[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
In the far future, a woman named Kiara Rodriguez creates a device that translates brainwaves into language, and she uses this to communicate with her cat. She soon discovers that her cat can astrally project himself across space. The military is looking for new life-bearing worlds to harvest and colonize, and they use Dr. Rodriguez’s cat to find these worlds. Her cat, Lou, finds another world for the military, and they get to work. Dr. Rodriguez knows what goes on these worlds when the military arrives, and she knows it must end.
Strayed #1 is an especially peculiar new offering on the shelves. The starting premise is kind of cute and endearing; a scientist finds a way to communicate with her cat. The next step of astral projection is weird for sure, but the next escalation to the cat being embroiled in a vast metaphor for American and European colonialism/imperialism akin to James Cameron’s Avatar is where the book gets downright strange even for me.
Strange isn’t innately bad–not by a long shot. What forces me to really consider whether or not Strayed gels is how off-kilter the themes are. The idea of a talking cat is cute, and Lou speaks in these broken sentences that are a little funny and make it even cuter. Balance that with the heavy themes about the military essentially enslaving species and stripping worlds for parts, and you have a comic that’s seemingly at odds with itself.
The tone is very tame, and it plays all of this very seriously. It’s pensive and even a bit existential in its imagery.
None of this is to say that Strayed #1 doesn’t work at all. The relationship between Rodriguez and Lou is endearing, Lou’s thought captions are interesting, and the themes of imperialism and consumption through bloodshed is ambitious. It just feels like some of this stuff should be in a different comic.
Juan Doe’s artwork is beautiful, and the scenes of Lou astrally projecting himself across space and time are quite a sight to behold. The emotional anguish shown by Rodriguez is quite affecting too. The color palette is strange and otherworldly, which suits the book pretty well–even with the conflicting themes.
Strayed #1 is an interesting one for sure. It wants to make this story about a talking psychic cat fit in the same story about intergalactic imperialism, and…it doesn’t quite work yet. But it could. I won’t discount it completely, and I find myself very much wanting to see where it goes with this. However, I can only give this issue a soft recommendation.
Strayed #1 comes to us from writer Carlos Giffoni, artist and cover artist Juan Doe, letterer Matt Krotzer, and variant cover artists Dustin Nguyen and Morgan Beem.
Final Score: 6/10