Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Emma Vieceli
Artwork: Claudia Leonardi
Colours: Andrea Izzo
Lettering: Richard Starkings, Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Release Date: 22nd May 2019
[WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE LIFE IS STRANGE VIDEO GAME]
The first volume of Titan’s Life is Strange series is set in the wake of one of the award-winning Square Enix video game’s alternate endings; an ending where Max – a young woman mysteriously gifted with the power to rewind time – opts to save her oldest friend Chloe’s life, resulting in the utter decimation of their hometown of Arcadia Bay at the hands of a brutal hurricane.
We pick things up a year later with both characters doing their best to move on with their new lives in Seattle, albeit with fairly mixed results. But when Max starts experiencing strange, uncontrolled continuity leaps, the pair decide to travel back to their hometown to see if they can find some answers, opening themselves up to some painful memories and difficult decisions in the process.
Series writer Emma Vieceli does a stellar job of capturing the distinctive voices of Max and Chloe, which is pretty much an essential requirement for a licensed comic like this. And while the timey-wimey multiple reality chaos keeps the story moving forwards, it’s the smaller interactions between the pair that help give this story (and indeed its source material) its beating heart. Their mostly unspoken love for one another makes for scintillating reading, and the way they continually lean on each other as things get harsh and painful is actually fairly moving at times.
Artist Claudia Leonardi has a softness to her illustration style that keeps things light without ever becoming too cartoony. The key characters are instantly recognisable, and the recurring ‘butterfly’ motif results in some truly beautiful pages. Leonardi also works seamlessly with colourist Andrea Izzo, whose similarly soft approach ensures that the book is eye-catching throughout, particularly during the sunset scene at Blackwell Academy in the third issue.
What I perhaps found myself enjoying most about the visual side of the comic were the transitions between the different continuities Max is experiencing. Rather than a flash of light or a similarly eye-catching narrative device, these shifts frequently just happen out of the blue, with Max only realising she’s in a different timeline when she suddenly, awkwardly snaps back to the present. It’s a great approach that ensures that the reader is tuned in throughout, and while there are some hazy lighting effects utilised later in the book, the early ‘flickers’ where there’s nothing but a subtle wardrobe change to denote the different realities are really well executed.
The creative team’s clear affection for the source material shines through here, and the sheer ambition of the premise she delivers in these four issues has to be applauded. The conclusion is tinged with positivity and bittersweet sadness, and I’m definitely going to be picking up volume two to see how the eyebrow-raising final page revelation plays out. An enjoyable read then, although those unfamiliar with the video game will likely struggle a bit without the prior investment in our two protagonists.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]