Life After Arcadia Bay In Life Is Strange #1

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Max and Chloe left Arcadia Bay in the wake of the terrible storm that struck the small town. They’ve found a new life in Seattle. The two women are helping a small-time band work on their PR with photos from Max and logo work from Chloe. Now, it’s been one year since the storm hit Arcadia Bay, and the reality is hitting Max and Chloe hard. Worse yet, something strange is happening with Max’s time reversal abilities. However, the band is throwing a pirate-themed party and invited Max and Chloe. Can the two find contentment in their new life?

Life is Strange #1 cover by Claudia Leonardi
Life is Strange #1 cover by Claudia Leonardi

As a disclaimer, I played and loved every episode of the first Life is Strange game, so I do have a lot of investment in these characters and am able to follow along with this story pretty easily as a result. I haven’t played the sequel or Before the Storm though.
Like many people, I chose the “Save Arcadia, let Chloe die” ending, so it’s almost cathartic to see the alternative explored. The characters of Max and Chloe are recreated perfectly in the writing and dialogue. Life is Strange #1 reads like a natural progression of the Life is Strange story. There are even numerous trippy moments as a result of the potential problems in Max’s powers.
The themes of survivor’s guilt and the ripple effects in people’s lives are explored well. It’s a bit slow and meandering at times, but the game had similar moments.
The question becomes how approachable the comic is to people who aren’t familiar with the story of Life is Strange and are coming to this fresh, and I’m not sure it’s approachable to that set of readers. Those new to the franchise would likely be alternatively bored or confused by the mixture of existential crises and reality warping.
You could argue that this isn’t made for newcomers, and that is a fair argument to make. That said, there are almost certainly some people who will pick up this comic, and possibly not know what Life is Strange is beyond a comic (culture is more niche-based and atomized than ever). That person would likely not understand much in the story.
Life is Strange #1 art by Claudia Leonardi, Andrea Izzo, and letterers Richard Starkings and Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Life is Strange #1 art by Claudia Leonardi, Andrea Izzo, and letterers Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt

Claudia Leonardi’s artwork looks damn good though, and she recreates the aesthetic and feel of Life is Strange with seeming ease. I felt reabsorbed by that world and its people. The emotion and atmosphere is still there. Andrea Izzo’s color work accomplishes the same thing; the tones and palette resemble the world presented by the game.
Life is Strange #1 is a welcoming return to the world of Max Caulfield for those familiar with the game and its story. For others, it will likely be a little alienating and confusing. Consequently, I can easily recommend it to the fan of Life is Strange. For others, well…the game is great, so you should play it then check out this comic.
Life is Strange #1 comes to us from writer Emma Vieceli, artist Claudia Leonardi, color artist Andrea Izzo, letterers Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, cover artist Claudia Leonardi, and variant cover artist Manda Schank.

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