Elakshi and Adam continue to search for a cure for their powers, but are they right to trust Kittyhawk?
Who is Kittyhawk? Elakshi and Adam have asked that question before, but never from the deck of a cruise ship. Turns out it’s easier to talk when your life’s not in danger and, for the first time, the second volume of Strangelands gives Elakshi and Adam a chance to relax. It’s all thanks to Kittyhawk, too. She’s the one who paid for their journey. She’s also the reason they’re heading to Istanbul to see a scientist about a possible cure for their powers — but that’s what she said about Dr. Fletcher in volume one, and he didn’t exactly help.
Ever since they were held up at gunpoint almost a year ago, Elakshi has been able to repel things while Adam’s ability is attraction. But there’s a catch: If Elakshi and Adam stand too far apart, they trigger an explosion. Likewise, if they touch – massive explosion. They met the day they got their powers (issue #5 opens with another flashback) and while they have chemistry, the fact that they can’t give each other space (and have been on the run for most of their acquaintance) hasn’t been fruitful for romance.
Mags Visaggio and Darcie Little Badger go big with their second arc and it really does feel like the next step. What would be a situation two people who can’t touch would want to avoid? Instead of looking for easy ways out, Visaggio and Badger write themselves into corners that they then have to resolve. The opening of issue #6 is a good example. Nothing is off limits, which means they get to keep raising the ante and doing things they’ve never done before.
The whole idea of Humanoids’ H1 Ignition universe means Elakshi and Adam aren’t the only humans to have developed powers, so Visaggio and Badge really use this volume to expand the world and question how long this has been going on. Their old enemy from volume one, Hendley Berman, is back with a new name (Bixby Hardman) and a bigger role. His entrance is particularly priceless (there’s a costume change involved).
The price of this expansion is Elakshi and Adam aren’t as front in center in this arc. Instead of experiencing things with them, readers get to see what other characters are doing. Volume two also introduces a new art team. Vincenzo Federici and Rex Lokus replace Guillermo Sanna and Bryan Valenza as artist and colorist, respectfully. Valenza’s colors are a lot glossier than Lokus’ — which is appropriate for some of the settings, like the cruise ship and a lab, but don’t always feel as grounded as Valenza’s flatter colors did. Federici’s action sequences can also be more difficult to follow than Sanna’s were, with some of the angle changes. A Larger World Studios (who are responsible for the letters again) are especially good at staging conversations when the characters are running and thinking on their feet. Elakshi and Adam interrupt each other and there are sharp changes in subject matter. Personally, I missed the intimacy and more singular focus of volume one, but the series is growing and that’s probably for the best.
Strangelands Volume 2 goes on sale October 6th from Humanoids.