Advance Review – Strayed #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Carlos Giffoni
Artwork: Juan Doe
Lettering: Matt Krotzer
Release Date: 14th August 2019

Coming this August from Dark Horse Comics, Strayed has a somewhat unconventional premise.  This first issue introduces us to Kira Rodriguez, a brilliant young military scientist who manages to develop some pioneering technology that allows her to translate brainwaves into an understandable language – and immediately uses it to communicate with her cat Lou.  I mean, you would, wouldn’t you?

However, in doing so, she discovers that Lou is actually capable of “Astral Projecting” to different places in space, a revelation which puts the pair firmly in the crosshairs of her military employers who begin exploiting Lou’s ability in an attempt to seek out and gain control of untapped resources around the galaxy.

It’s a cracking premise, and the way writer Carlos Giffoni and artist Juan Doe work together to emphasis the cosmic scale of Lou’s trips helps to inject this book with a truly fantastical feel.  I’m always a sucker for a well-executed science fiction story, and this most definitely fits the bill, but the creators never let themselves get too caught up in the story, ensuring that the series retains its heart and charm by virtue of the strong relationship between Kira and Lou.

The exploitation of animals is likely to push the buttons of a great many readers, myself included, and watching Lou being used as a mere resource while desperately wanting to see his owner is likely to elicit a mixture of sadness and fist-clenching anger. Kira’s technology also results in Lou’s “voice” coming out in a broken, We3 style of English that only adds to the emotional impact of the horrible situation the pair have found themselves in.

I’ve been a massive fan of Doe since the early days of AfterShock Comics, and the way he captures scale and expression without getting lost in unnecessary detail is a rare gift.  There’s always something a little abstract and a little dream-like about his characters and designs, and it works wonders as part of this story to emphasise the trippy cosmic vistas and dreamscapes.

Also playing a significant role in the visual package is Matt Krotzer, whose creative lettering gives the dialogue exchanges some extra sizzle, mixing up different font and word balloon styles for different characters, and really nailing the emotional impact of Lou’s communication with Kira.

The final pages add an even more nefarious slant to the military’s plans for Lou, making the wait for issue two a long and painful one (particularly as I’m reviewing this first issue two weeks ahead of its release), but setting this series up to have some serious chops as it unfolds.

Boasting a genuinely interesting premise packed with emotional heft and stunning visuals, Strayed is an impressive new series that will appeal to cat owners and sci-fi fanatics alike.  Highly, highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.

The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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You can follow Ceej on Twitter

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