COMIC BOOK REVIEW: ALIEN IN THE OUTFIELD / AUTHOR: JACK KIRBY / ARTIST: MAT BARNETT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
There is a hugely nostalgic ‘80s theme running through the middle of the new comic from Jack Kirby and Mat Barnett. Alien in the Outfield channels the spirit of sporting glory from Teen Wolf, mixes in a little of the “lovably relatable outsider” from E.T. and comes up with a baseball story about an alien child who crash lands in middle America and becomes the MVP of the local little league team. In true Hollywood fashion the team is populated by all manner of teenage social misfits (can you spot the message yet?) and our alien hero is pursued by F.B.I. versions of Men in Black who have traditionally nefarious intentions for their quarry.
Billed as a comic for all ages, Alien in the Outfield in truth reads on the young side. There is that unavoidable 30 year old nostalgia that is impossible to miss, but the familiar plotting, well-used characters and simple visuals may not hold older attentions too long. Younger readers will relate better to the heroic underdogs and underplayed emotional pulls more than older ones who have had time to have become victims to a little developing cynicism, with the latter perhaps missing some of the inherent fun in the comic.
That said, there is little not to like about Kirby’s reverential writing and Barnett’s charming visuals. The humour is pleasantly chucklesome and the heroes likeable, and those designs are without doubt captivating in their basic beauty. It would be sniffy in the extreme to dismiss Alien In The Outfield out of hand and would take a cold soul devoid of joy not to be even a little won over, but as the beginning of a series there are limitations and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the series develops.