Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Emma Vieceli
Artwork: Claudia Leonardi
Colours: Andrea Izzo
Lettering: Richard Starkings, Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Release Date: 8th April 2020
[WARNING: CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS]
In the latest instalment of Titan’s ongoing Life is Strange series, Max, Chloe, Rachel and Tristan are trying to come to terms with their near-death experience in the pages of volume two, and Max opts to tell her new (and old) friends the truth about her powers and the ever-so-slightly unbelievable events that brought her to this timeline.
While the first volume of Emma Vieceli and Claudia Leonardi’s video game spinoff series was undoubtedly strong, it felt like things perhaps took a bit of a step back in volume two with the slightly clunky introduction of Tristan, a mysterious boy who has the power to turn invisible and who seems to be drawn to Max in some way (and vice versa). However, I’m pleased to report that we’re definitely getting back to what made this series great in this latest trade paperback, which collects issues #9-12 of the Titan Comics series.
For me, Vieceli’s story focuses a little too heavily on the mechanics of Max’s gift at times, trying to explain away exactly how she ended up in this particular timeline and how she might go about returning to her own. It’s interesting enough, but for me, Life is Strange is always best when it’s focusing on character drama and weighty decision-making first and foremost. And thankfully, aside from one or two diversions, that’s exactly what we get here.
Overall, this feels like a tighter, more intense story than the second volume, with the relationship between Max and Chloe taking centre stage as it most definitely should. Rachel Amber continues to be fleshed out into a fascinating character, and the way she fits alongside (and occasionally between) our two leads makes for some truly interesting moments. Personally speaking, I’m still not quite sold on Tristan at all, and while he and his abilities do help to move the story along, he also frequently feels like more a plot device than a fully realised character in his own right.
The volume culminates in a tense finale which allows the artistic partnership of Claudia Leonardi and Andrea Izzo to really cut loose with some striking pencil and colour work, breaking out of the expressive yet slightly subdued character work with some wildly ethereal scenes. It’s a good looking book once again, and the key moments and understated character reactions are all brought to the page confidently.
These final pages also serve to throw an interesting wrinkle into the proceedings on the part of Tristan, and deliver the potential for some cracking road trip hijinks as we head into volume four. A welcome return to form for the series, then, and another volume that brilliantly captures the appeal of the BAFTA award-winning Square Enix video game.
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