Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Meteor Men Review (Jeff Parker, Sandy Jarrell)


Meteors containing aliens crash on Earth. Are these extra-terrestrials peaceful or hostile? They’re actually peaceful but the US Military knows one goddamn thing – it’s got some goddamn missiles and it’s gonna goddamn use them!

As everyone freaks out about an alien invasion that isn’t happening because the aliens are too busy walking on air (literally!) as if they’re stoned superheroes who’ve just figured out their powers, one alien befriends lonely American teen Alden Baylor, a kid whose name sounds like someone with a mouthful of toffee trying to say “Alan Taylor”.

You’d think he was miserable because of his crap name, or maybe because that’s the attitude that works best on the laydees but he’s not getting any, for some reason, even though he resembles an Abercrombie & Fitch model with no parents to tell him what to do and a massive amount of land he’s just inherited, plus media attention. (That said, can a teenager own land? I don’t know the US laws but doesn’t seem right)

Middle middle middle, terrible anticlimactic ending, stare into space wondering what the point was, and it’s over.

Meteor Men is probably the least interesting aliens come to Earth storyline you’ll ever read. Our “hero” archetype, Alden, might as well have empty speech bubbles for all its worth reading his dialogue. He’s the most vacuous person to have as a main character and there should be a sign hanging around his neck saying “WARNING: Listening to me talk for any amount of time will put you a coma”.

The aliens are criminally dull too. I’m sure the idea that when aliens invade, the reader is supposed to be interested in finding out who they are and why they’re here but they do so little and display such little character – they’re like alien versions of Alden – that you’ve all but given up on them proving to be in the least bit worth knowing. I can say having read it, the reason why they do what they do is one of the most mind-numbingly boring reveals ever.

The book overall has a strong Spielberg-ian feel to it. The kid who makes friends with the alien and the government/military hunting them down cliché is very ET and the fact that the comic is aimed at younger readers makes it a very safe read. Nothing original is attempted, there are no complex themes or characters, there’s little in the way of tension or obstacles to overcome, and the message is as universally positive as you can get – don’t judge appearances and be tolerant and kind to others. A fine sentiment but bland as hell – sorry, kids – “heck”, to read.

Maybe that’s why the book has no resonance with me, being an adult reader, and teenagers will lap this up? It does seem to portray the life of a teenager fairly accurately – the awkwardness of a shy boy around girls, the parties, etc. - so perhaps for a reader going through these things themselves, they’ll identify more closely with the protagonist (who is luckily a blank slate – maybe that was the point?) and feel more strongly about the book as a result.

Sandy Jarrell’s artwork is pretty good – I liked how the alien first spoke to Alden psychically, the background was whited out with a giant word to show how big an impact it had on his mind, and overall the comic is easy on the eyes. The alien designs aren’t that original though and seem fairly generic and forgettable.

And those two words sum up Meteor Men – generic and forgettable. At no point was I engaged with any aspect of the narrative and the most powerful feeling I had when reading it was sleepiness. Maybe a teen who hasn’t read much sci-fi will enjoy this, but for the rest of us? It’s a miss. Like the meteors in the book when they lay on the ground split open, Meteor Men is quite hollow.

Meteor Men

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