September is about more than kids heading off to school, all bright shining faces and expensive new electronics. This month also kicks off a horrifying gauntlet of fear, tedium and aggravation (mostly aggravation) for a beleaguered species, the college professor.
Or so Owen King and Mark Jude Poirier suggest in Intro to Alien Invasion, a B-movie-style body-snatch graphic tale in which average American college students rank alongside extraterrestrial invaders in their ability to ruin a sane person’s day. In real life Poirier is himself a professor – he holds a creative writing fellowship at Harvard – and if this book is any indication, he’s not having too great a time at it. At his and King’s fictional Fenton College, the students are almost universally juvenile (Jello-filled balloon bombs? Really, kids?), entitled, and immune to the instruction their parents are paying for. They’re actually easier to deal with once intergalactic parasites have transformed them into 10-foot-long monster bugs.
The near-lone exception is the shy and nerdy heroine, Stacey Kepler, whose basic niceness nets her nothing but harassment at the hands of her fellow students. She’s sneered at by the hot girls, subjected to sexist (and, worse, just plain unfunny) jokes by fraternity types, targeted by a Jello bomb and overlooked by the roommate she has a crush on. In another story she might have found some measure of comfort from bonding intellectually with compassionate instructors. Here, though, the one fleshed-out professor is even more evil than the students (King and Poirier’s dark vision is total). When that teacher’s research goes awry, it’s up to ace-science-student Stacey to fight the resulting alien beetle invasion.