The Life Is Strange franchise continues to flourish, in both the gaming medium and that of the comic book world. As such, the ongoing series from Titan Comics has already reached its third major story arc involving the protagonists of the original game, Max Caulfield and Chloe Price. The latest narrative arc, titled “Strings”, spans a total of four issues of the Life Is Strange comics and they’re all now available for perusal. So let’s find out whether Life Is Strange Issues #9-12 are as gripping and dramatic as those that have come before it.
“Strings” begins with the truth about Max’s powers being unveiled to both Chloe and Rachel, which removes a heavy load off her shoulders. As the reader, it was clear that Max internally struggled to come to terms with harbouring secrets surrounding her ability to manipulate time and the alternate, original, timeline, so it’s good to see that struggle put to an end. But whilst it’s a relief for the truth to come out, it unfortunately leads to a rather slow beginning because most of what’s discussed will already be known to you.
That’s merely the foundation to build upon though, and the real depth to the storytelling comes in the way each of the main characters deals with the fallout to a shock revelation – Max wishes to return to her timeline to be with the Chloe she loves.
The range of emotion felt throughout the conversations that follow is impressive, putting all of their feelings on the table in the process. Chloe adores her best friend, but appears to feel a sense of abandonment, while Rachel worries as she wonders if Max will remember her as more than simply the girl that went missing. Meanwhile, you’ll feel sorry for the often disappearing Tristan who’s doesn’t believe he belongs anywhere, including this new circle of friends he’s acquired. It’s quite lovely to see all three of her friends then coming together to ensure that whatever her decision may be in regards to leaving, they’ll support it.
On a side note, Emma Vieceli – the writer – really does a terrific job at using some of the lesser known characters to draw out what’s on the troubling minds of the fabulous four as well. Particularly when a couple of members of the pirate themed band The High Seas get to share the spotlight and their personalities are able to finally shine during some one-on-one chats. Unsurprisingly, the usually forgettable band is a lot more likeable on the whole when given enough time in the comics to make an impression.
Interestingly, there’s a moment that points to Tristan being way more important than anyone could ever imagine and is therefore seen as an integral part to any plan Max has to relocate to her former string on the timeline. There’s still an air of mystery about his specific role though, which eventually leads to an unpredictable plot twist that will certainly cause a stir and see immediate consequences brought about.
In terms of the artistic efforts, there’s no doubt that the character designs are on-point once again with wardrobe choices always looking suitable. It’s also quite cool to see the little bits of detail in the backgrounds for those possessing a rather keen eye. There appears to be a lot more warmth emanating from the colour palette found in these four comics, which I believe should help to get the reader invested in the emotional happenings. It’s fair to say that the artwork is always of a good standard, but a handful of panels depicting a night-time gathering on a beach are simply beautiful and well worthy of kicking off the final stages of the story.
What this latest four-part narrative arc, “Strings”, does with the Life Is Strange franchise is take you on a ride that’s full of emotion, drama and mystery. Just because it’s emotional doesn’t mean there aren’t a few happy moments, even slightly funny encounters, to be experienced alongside the rather sad and worrying parts. At the heart of it all though is Max’s desire to return to her Chloe, hoping to rekindle the blossoming love they share; whether it happens or not is for you to find out, but it’s a relationship that really pulls at your heart strings. To cap things off, the writing also manages to elevate characters that previously seemed uninteresting, seeing these people becoming useful tools in certain situations.
Whilst Life Is Strange Issue #9 is a slow-burner, it only gets better with each advancing comic until Issue #12 delivers the final hook to ensure you’ll come back for more. And that means any fan of the previous Life Is Strange comics would do well to take in the ‘Strings’ arc from Titan Comics.