Instead of being just another Mulder and Scully wannabe, Strange Nation tells the story of a journalist from a small tabloid newspaper intent on bringing secrets and conspiracies out into the light. But will this digital-first from MonkeyBrain comics stop the presses or will it end up being something that shouldn’t be in circulation?
Publisher: MonkeyBrain Comics/IDW Publishing
Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Juan Romera
Price: £0.69 per issue from ComiXology, print edition from IDW Publishing coming soon
Strange Nation follows Norma Park, a rising journalist who, after seeing cults and aliens and monsters, turns her back on a promising career to expose ‘the truth’ via Strange Nation – a supermarket tabloid who print unusual and accurate stories. However, as Norma and her partner Jesse, work at exposing the truth, forces of invading aliens, talking monkeys and even her own parents try to silence her before she puts a halt to the nefarious plans that are already in motion.
Writer Paul Allor has taken the familiar premise of conspiracies and aliens and created a fun and entertaining story around them. By telling the story from the perspective of a Lois Lane-inspired journalist Norma rather than the usual shadowy government agents it takes many of the usual tropes from conspiracy theory fiction, but subverts them slightly, which adds to the books charm and helps aid the it’s subtle humour. (Does Jesse bear an uncanny resemblance to a late rock ‘n’ roll star to you?!)
While the story itself is pretty engrossing, as Norma uncovers mysteries at global companies and finds out more about her parent’s involvement in the shadowy conspiracy, the enjoyment does suffer a bit from some rather odd pacing. For example, parts six and the first half of part seven feels unnecessarily drawn out in places and seems to have had panels cut in others which really affects the flow of the narrative, halting its pacing.
Meanwhile, the art by Juan Romera doesn’t display such problems, maintaining a high quality throughout. His character designs are particularly worth nothing, especially in the non-human characters like Joe the gorilla-human hybrid who sets Norma off on her mission and Merc, the main villain of the piece, who looks uncannily like Jaws from the James Bond movies. As well as these great characters Romera packs in plenty of detail in every page, such as the alien invasion in the opening act or the highly detailed background of the lab with mermaids held in a tank being one of our favourites.