STRAYED, ISSUE #2
Writer: Carlos Giffoni
Illustrator: Juan Doe
Publisher: Dark Horse
WHAT IS IT?
A space opera centered on the relationship between a captive woman and her astral-projecting cat and the colonizing empire using them to expand their interests.
Think Battlestar Galactica meets Secretariat (or any other horse bond/racing movie).
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Lou, the psychic cat, continues to astrally project himself across the universe to find a mysterious power source called "the flower," which can power all of human society for thousands of years. Meanwhile, Kiara has seriously moral reservations about the nature of their mission, which is leading to the death and enslavement of dozens of species in pursuit of colonization.
The constant stress Lou puts himself through while projecting is destroying his health, but their only way out of the empire's grip is to find the flower. Will Lou be able to find this incredible source of power before his body gives out, and if he does, how much destruction will it bring if it falls into the wrong hands?
Doe's background work is stunning, with beautifully realized alien worlds, incredible architecture, and a wonderful emphasis on geometric shapes that gives the book a unique futuristic look.
Doe and Krotzer's design and layout of the book is inspired. The pages all look distinct with chaotic but flowing panels and gorgeous 1- and 2-page splashes.
The linework is rough but distinct which helps sell the foreign feel of the alien worlds and space station. The entire world presented in Strayed is enthralling with its harsh lines and meticulous shapes.
Krotzer's subtle bumpiness in his caption boxes delivers the protagonist's uncertainty of tone in a way that the words alone could not.
Giffoni's dialogue shines between Lou and Kiara, making a potentially silly scenario of a woman talking with her cat into the most poignant scenes in the comic. The love between them is authentic and will be familiar to animal lovers and cat owners alike.
Doe's coloring of space and the cosmos can be mesmerizing at its best. His use of greens, purples, and reds are distinct and, when done especially well, elevate the already fantastic art.
There's a kinetic sense of movement on the page, nothing feels stiff or static especially while following Lou through space. This keeps the comic flowing and the reader engaged throughout.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Doe's anatomy feels off. The heads seem a bit too small and the faces aren't clearly defined, particularly in Kiara, the protagonist. It distracts from the otherwise excellent art.
While we're on figure work, dialogue between people is the only thing in the book that feels stiff. It's partially on the writing, but equally the fault of the odd framing decisions and awkward posing of the characters when they talk and confront each other.
Writing in this issue is a bit weak. The first issue kept much of what was happening up to the reader's interpretation; this one never stops explaining every little thing. There's a big problem with telling over showing that lowers reader investment, which is a shame.
The antagonist (so far unnamed, but very Emperor Palpatine), from design to dialogue, is one-note and flatly evil, which seems uninspired and lazy. Comes complete with a monologue explaining evil motivations.
The comic takes quite a while for the rubber to hit the road, meandering in the same place story-wise that we were at the end of the last comic for about 10 pages before anything new happens.
The bold colors don't always work, and can sometimes make the page look over-saturated and boring without effective contrast.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
The art is incredible, fresh, and unique from design and layout to atmosphere and colors. It doesn't always hit every mark, but it stands out and is certainly worth taking a look at.
The key relationship between a psychic cat and its owner is well-written and authentic, and what mystery remains after this expository chapter is legitimately compelling. There's a lot of personality and ideas in this book, not all of which are completely original – but it does familiar things through a unique perspective which can make even the stalest concepts fun and interesting again.
I find the writing a mixed bag, but if you're more interested in a comic's art than its writing, Strayed is definitely worth checking out.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Space Rider: Vortex of Darkness by Carlos Giffoni & Alexis Ziritt
Incursion by Alex Paknadel, Andy Diggle & Doug Braithwaite
WE3 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
If you like the art:
Dark Ark by Cullen Bunn & Juan Doe
Sea of Stars by Jason Aaron & Dennis Hallum
Martian Manhunter by Steve Orlando & Riley Rossmo
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Carlos Giffoni – Writer
Multitalented: Since he was 14, he's been in electronic and punk bands as a singer, a musician, and even a producer. He's also a creative director in the video game and television industries and has credits working on League of Legends, South Park, and The Daily Show.
Outlander: Originally from Venezuela, but currently lives near the beach in Los Angeles, according to his personal website.
Animal Lover: Viktor Fulgencio and Lou Reed are the names of his two cats. Whether the Lou in the comic is a shameless Mary-Sue for Lou the cat has yet to be determined.
Juan Doe – Artist
On his art: "The images he creates are snippets of warp speed hallucinations colliding with the split-second reactions to the cultural zeitgeist." -Juan Doe
Cover Artist: Best known in the industry as a cover artist due to his bold and flashy style.
Alias?: Though his name likely is Juan Doe, it also happens to be police short-hand for an unidentified Hispanic male.
Matt Krotzer – Lettering
Multitalented: Also works as a graphic designer
Chas Pangburn – Editor
Multitalented: Though he edits other comics, like Metalshark Bro, he also writes and letters comics, too! Also has some film credits.
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