We’re over the halfway mark for the first story arc of Titan Comics’ Life is Strange comic series and so far it’s been a joy to read, rekindling the emotional investment many of us made when playing the video game series. With Life is Strange Issue #3 now here, a lot of questions are yet to be answered, but there’s also a need to ensure enough of a hook is present to reel readers back in for the upcoming conclusion. So let’s find out whether the turbulent life of Max and Chloe continues to impress, or if the time-bending novelty has worn off.
In the previous issue, Max and Chloe ventured back to the place that haunts their days forevermore – Arcadia Bay. Having been invited to attend the one year anniversary of the storm that took countless lives, our protagonists figured it might help bring some closure to their lives and, subsequently, it may stop the strange timeline shifting that’s affecting Max’s health more and more frequently. Unfortunately, it only made things worse, with Max seemingly flickering in and out of different timelines, seeing people who should be dead like Diana and Chloe’s mum, Joyce. The goings on put too much strain on Max and she falls unconscious.
Instead of immediately dealing with the aftermath of such a dramatic cliff-hanger, Issue 3 delves straight into a practice session for the band back in Seattle, The High Seas. The problem is, the character development for these four fresh characters has been so weak that I couldn’t care less what they’re doing; the majority of readers and I just want to find out how our beloved Max and Chloe are getting on. Hence, any momentum built up beforehand takes a swift knockback, but fear not because it’s bonkers – in the best way – once the comic resumes the story in Arcadia Bay.
Not only are the lines getting increasingly blurry between different timelines, Chloe is able to join Max in a truly surreal blast from the past style moment. Upon arriving at the Blackwell Academy memorial, the duo are embroiled in various ‘visions’ and weird encounters, some of which are only experienced by Max. There are characters featured here that, in a parallel universe, could’ve survived the storm and other life-altering events that could’ve played out differently – I still can’t quite get my head around one appearance, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless.
It’s during these moments that their fantastic relationship blossoms further, as the writing really conveys the love between the two of them, at the very least, as best friends. Chloe is more than willing to take the pain from the time-shifting occurrences, if only to ensure Max isn’t going through it all alone. There’s a little bit of hope that whatever the problem, they’re going to solve it, whatever it takes, together.
What’s unveiled in the latter stages of the comic though completely blows open the narrative and makes not only the reader, but also Max, wonder what the heck is going on as it may be affecting her more than she thought possible. Deciphering reality from the alternative timelines is increasingly tricky, whilst at the same time, fascinating.
In the artwork department, it’s very impressive to see both the subtle and more obvious changes to the characters as well as the environment around them during the time-jumping parts. There’s one section that specifically stands out for a brilliant use of a colour palette that simply oozes warmth, which really fits a lovely reuniting of old friends. Even more impressive are the attire choices, because no matter the timeline, the clothing is always on-point with how you’d expect the protagonists to dress.
Overall and Titan Comics’ Life is Strange Issue #3 is a confusing, crazy, intriguing instalment of the comic series that really sets up the arc for a strong finish. Sure, the issue struggles to keep interest levels high at the start, but once the storytelling returns to Arcadia Bay, everything just feels how it should be. You can get all nostalgic, slightly sad, consistently baffled, and mildly entertained by a superb pop culture reference that fits well with what’s happening.
We owe it to ourselves to march forth towards the finale of the inaugural Life Is Strange narrative arc, to receive the answers we desire and some much needed closure.