Trespasser issues 1–2
Writer: Justin M. Ryan
Artist: Kristian Rossi
The first two issues of Trespasser, scripted by Justin M. Ryan with art by Kristian Rossi, unfold at a single location, a remote farmhouse. Society has taken a turn for the worse and a lone parent is raising his daughter at this isolated outpost, scavenging for food to survive. One afternoon when hunting with the family dog, he discovers an alien – one of the grey, bald and bug-eyed Roswell/Whitley Strieber variety – caught in a bear trap. He takes the alien home and nurses its wounds, but then, doubting the creature’s intent and fearing for his child’s safety, kills it in the dead of night. However, this is not the last that father and daughter see of this visitor.
It’s fun to go big in comics, using the medium as a canvas for all manner of outlandish scenarios encumbered only by the imagination, but it also pays to go small sometimes. Trespasser leans towards the latter approach: it’s essentially a three-hander (four if you include the dog) and feels like a chamber drama.
The story’s setup is simple and unimposing – a father and daughter menaced by an alien houseguest – but it’s also sneaky: two issues in I don’t have any real inkling where the story’s going, and that’s a refreshing feeling. In future issues Trespasser could become a full-blown siege thriller ala Signs or an abduction drama ala Communion; it could pit man against alien ala Predator or take an apocalyptic turn; heck, it may even become a tender E.T.-esque tome to genteel human/extra-terrestrial relations.
Both father and daughter are functional but sympathetic archetypes. That economical sketching works for the story: simply put, they’re isolated, dependent on each other, and motivated primarily to survive, and no further nuance or complication is necessary. As indicated above, there are references throughout to a society that has soured, though the extent and nature of this remain fuzzy; it could be a Mad Max state of affairs, or maybe Trump was elected. Rather than belabouring the point with exposition, the storytelling adopts a showing rather than telling approach: Rossi illustrates this history and its toll in the emaciated limbs of the daughter and protruding ribs of the family pet, and the way the large desolate house and its shadows loom over and dwarf the characters. Such details add grist to the parental paranoia and help explain the father’s decisive (and possibly damning) action. Against considerable odds he has built a good home and approximation of normalcy for his child – Rossi’s use of gorgeous autumnal colours adds a certain tranquil, homely burnish that contrasts nicely with the signs of physical and mental toil – and he must protect this endangered domesticity.
Trespasser is, two issues in, a sneaky little gem of a comic. It’s a slow burn sci-fi chiller on a very human and intimate scale. Count me very interested to see where Ryan takes this story.