Review: “How I Spent My Summer Invasion” from a grown-up/kid perspective

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Indie publisher We Comics’ new all-ages sci-fi series “How I Spent My Summer Invasion” written by Patrick Rieger and illustrated by Mark Sean Wilson, places a pair of rarin’ for summer-fun boys, Russ and Tim, unexpectedly in the service of a hotel that caters to extraterrestrial clientele complete with giant bug-like maitre d’s, free-roaming internal organs and even an alien princess.

Will this book hold pass the test of multi-generational readership? Here are a couple of thoughts from the grown-up/kid perspective:

Part One — by Lisa Kay Tate

For a new comic, I found this a witty story geared towards the ‘tween set, with just the right mix of mild and droll humor to hold that age group’s attention.  Nothing in the book was a particularly laugh-out-loud moment for me, except I did find the comment “If you’re not doing anything later, I’m hitting puberty in about three years,” pretty dang cute. The story did seem to be rushed along a little too fast in places, but I think as Rieger continues to grow as a writer this pace will even out. This story has potential to blossom in some rather clever places.

As for the art, I was taken with Wilson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” meets “Men In Black” style. The lines were crisp and the colors were fun and bold, which made even its kid-friendly “gross-out” moments kind of endearing. His work is a good pairing with Rieger’s words.

As a comic enthusiast who regularly finds myself drawn into fights with Ultron and near-world-ending Infinity Gauntlet searches, this book may not hold the interest of some adult readers. However, it was a refreshing break from the “over-the-top” cutesy plots or inane sight gags of some young readers books, as it managed to balance Tim and Russ’s misadventures with just enough silliness, as well as a lot of heart (and stomach and eyeball) to keep the pages turning.

My biggest gripe was it was just all too familiar, given the similar storylines of the non-conventional guests that are popping up frequently in movies and books; most notably the forthcoming Sony Pictures animated feature film “Hotel Transylvania,” and the 2011 children’s novel “Aliens on Vacation” by Clete Barrett Smith.

I’m always on the lookout for plots that are new and original, and I felt I needed a little bit more of that for this to be an entirely satisfying read for me.

But then again, I’m not 9…

Part Two — by Molly Kay Tate, age 9.

I thought this comic was extremely funny, and it reminded me of the book “Aliens on Vacation,” and I think that’s a very interesting type of story.

The artwork was pretty funny and cute as well, and my favorite part was when the bellhop just kept coming back even when he was practically getting all chewed up. My favorite character was definitely Starlei, especially since the way she was drawn was very pretty and colorful.

I thought the end was a little sad, though, and would have liked to see (SPOILER ALERT) the poor bellhop’s legs grown back, even when he was still missing his torso and his hands. Quick Mom interjection: not exactly sure how the latter suggestion would be anatomically possible, but we can always imagine.

I do want to read more and see what happens next, because altogether I really liked this story and think it is something kids will want to keep reading.

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