With two major story arcs under their belt already, the team behind Titan Comics’ Life is Strange series – Emma Vieceli, Claudia Leonardi and Andrea Izzo – are back to deliver more. The main protagonists, Max and Chloe, have been through so much on this long and arduous journey through life and alternate timelines, but now we’re about to see which direction Life is Strange Issue #9 is going to take; kicking off the third narrative arc.
Before that though, let’s get caught up on the goings on of Issue #8, starting with the fact that Max used her powers for the first time in a long while. It became a necessity in order to save not only Tristan from getting shot, but also someone who had overdosed at the party. Unfortunately, the time manipulation dragged Max into danger, with the terrific trio of Tristan, Chloe and Rachel needing to save her from the grasp of ruthless thugs. As the dust settled towards the end of the rather manic issue, it left us in the knowledge that Max is going to finally share her secrets with the others. But how will they respond?
Understandably, Chloe and Rachel are in shock regarding the revelations that this version of Maxine Caulfield has not only been hiding those special powers, but also the harsh realities of the ‘original’ timeline. After all, the storm ripped apart Arcadia Bay and poor Rachel met an early demise due to Nathan Prescott overdosing her. In the midst of all this though, Tristan feels as if it’s not particularly relevant to him and therefore takes himself out of the situation, in order to allow the others some space to process everything.
In some ways, as the reader, you kind of have the same feeling because it’s nothing new really as we’ve been privy to such information about Max from the beginning. Hence, the issue is a bit of a slow-burner with the cast piecing together the goings on and even reminiscing somewhat. The only shining light in these moments is seeing Chloe deliver a couple of unfiltered comments that come so natural to her. Interest levels do pique slightly in the latter stages of the comic when Rachel goes off on her own, which enables a decent insight into her mindset.
What this also does is bring in a member of The High Seas, Dex, and the two of them hold a genuine conversation at Paul’s beach café whilst the band are setting up for a performance. Now, I’ve been quite critical in past issues of The High Seas and their pointlessness – to be blunt – but there’s an opportunity here for one of the group to show off their personality and the writing does this very well. It helps that both Rachel and Dex have a proper inspiring chat, which is lovely to see as it enables the former’s mood to be lifted dramatically.
When it comes down to the artwork, plenty of effort has been put into the attires once again, but with the majority of the comic set in the apartment, there’s not an awful lot of visual delight to take in. That being said, Paul’s place ends up standing out more as a result and you become extra appreciative of the little things in the background; the likes of plants, drinks and even a poster becomes a draw for the eyes.
The only problem Life is Strange Issue #9 suffers from is that it’s a sharp change of pace after the couple of comics prior to it. Given this is the start of the ‘Strings’ arc, you have to provide a bit of leeway as the foundations for the narrative are laid down. Whilst it could bring back a few memories of Blackwell Academy, and does elevate Dex as a notable character, it’s difficult to get excited for the next instalment when most of the storytelling is covering old ground. Even the ‘cliff-hanger’ fails to provide a convincing argument to be eagerly waiting for another issue.
Fortunately though, the Life is Strange series has so far shown that whatever they’re building up to is probably going to be worth sticking with. Here’s hoping Issue #10 has something great up its proverbial sleeve…