In this collaboration between comedian Paul Scheer and Adult Swim writer, Nick Giovannetti, stoned interstellar deliverymen, Parker and Modi, find themselves on a secret mining base with a gorgeous secret agent, a surly soldier, and a seemingly infinite number of hostile aliens. As they fight their way back to the surface, survival seems like a long shot. Will Parker and Modi save the day?
The story is an homage to the experience of being a young, single male with nothing to do but play video games. Parker and Modi’s alien experience mirrors the first person shooter in their video games while they hang out on their ship. Many of the scenarios that Parker and Modi run into parody situations common in video games like in “Halo,” from disgusting sewers to accidental kills in blind hallways.
Artist, Manuel Bracchi, does a good job of skirting the trap that other video game-inspired comics (and movies) often fall into: the one where enjoying the piece is a lot like watching someone else play a video game. (In case you’ve never had the dubious pleasure, rest assured that there is nothing more boring than watching someone else play a video game.) The writing is good enough that despite the common tropes, the story doesn’t feel flat or trite. As I read, I was able to reflect on my positive memories of first person shooters bygone, while still feeling immersed in the story.
Though the characters aren’t stale, they are fairly standard bro-comedy types. Parker is an unlikely man-child hero, Modi is the funny and competent wingman who somehow isn’t the star, and several other cast members fill out the stock roles of idiot savant, jock, out-of-your-league love interest, and paranoid wacko. Watching them interact is fun enough, but it’s so easy to predict what they’ll do that it’s hard to take them seriously.
If the video game references weren’t enough, the flavor of the humor makes it pretty clear who the audience is supposed to be. (Hint: it likes dick jokes.) Laughs generally revolve around the deliverymen’s lack of manly toughness. Situational comedy is less crude and even sometimes self-reflexive, often commenting on the video game subculture that the book draws from so heavily. Once again, the art really aids these bits. One notable gag involves the deliverymen’s own online gaming pursuits, over the course of which they consistently lose games against verbally abusive twelve year-olds.
Manuel Bracchi’s art wouldn’t be out of place on Adult Swim. Bold lines and colors contribute to the hip visual vibe. The artist’s tendency to use a single shading tone means that things sometimes come across as a little flat. However, the art works well with the narrative and shows off the artist’s understanding of the theme.
Aliens vs. Parker will appeal primarily to college-age men who enjoy first person shooters, late-night cartoons, and buddy comedies. Other readers may find it amusing, but might not get the full experience until after a few rounds of “Halo.”
Aliens vs. Parker
by Paul Scheer, Nick Giovannetti
Art by Manuel Bracchi
Boom! Studios, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: 12+