The Case of the Un­wel­come Vis­i­tor

Bad Ma­chin­ery: Vol­ume 6

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Graphic Novels -

John Al­li­son, Oni Press, Soft­cover $19.99 (144pp), 978-1-62010-351-7

John Al­li­son’s ac­claimed Bad Ma­chin­ery se­ries of graphic nov­els con­tin­ues with The Case of the Un­wel­come Vis­i­tor. The book fol­lows Al­li­son’s six early-teen pro­tag­o­nists as they search for a new mys­tery to solve in their na­tive town of Tack­le­ford, Eng­land. The hoped-for mys­tery soon presents it­self in the form of a “night creeper” who ter­ror­izes Tack­le­ford, leav­ing his vic­tims with a strange, ab­sent smile on their faces. With sus­pi­cions cast on the new boyfriends of one char­ac­ter’s mother and sis­ter, the kids team up with a lo­cal re­porter to dis­cover the truth. The Case of the Un­wel­come Vis­i­tor of­fers a del­i­cately bal­anced blend of the nat­u­ral and su­per­nat­u­ral, and Al­li­son keeps a light, re­fresh­ing tone via hu­mor, even as the mys­tery deep­ens; mid­dle school­ers in par­tic­u­lar will ap­pre­ci­ate scenes like Char­lotte con­vinc­ing her mom she needs a girls’ out­ing to go bra shop­ping, hid­ing Char­lotte’s true in­ten­tion of meet­ing up with her fel­low mys­tery solvers. The com­plex, in­tense emo­tions that ac­com­pany early ado­les­cence are of­ten han­dled play­fully, but al­ways sym­pa­thet­i­cally. There are no sim­ple stereo­types, and Al­li­son’s writ­ing and art ben­e­fit from a nat­u­ral, easy flow, be­ing the prod­uct of one mind that does both equally well. By spread­ing the fo­cus across his large sta­ble of char­ac­ters, Al­li­son has not only kept this sixth vol­ume in the se­ries from seiz­ing up and stalling, he’s got it run­ning smoothly on all gears.

Art­work from The Case of the Un­wel­come Vis­i­tor, Bad Ma­chin­ery: Vol­ume 6, by John Al­li­son. Used with per­mis­sion from Oni Press.

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