Three teenagers, each an outcast in their own way, stumble upon an unearthly entity as it’s born. As they bond over this shared secret and the creature’s incredible abilities, it becomes clear to the teenagers that their cute little pet is a predator in the making—and it’s in need of prey. Guided by the best intentions at first, the teens’ decisions soon become corrupted by adolescent desires, small town jealousies, and internal rivalries, sending them into a catastrophic spiral of their own making.
Alienated has an intriguing, if familiar, premise revolving around the most alienating time in most people’s lives: being a teenager while maneuvering through the minefield known as high school.
The story revolves around three misfit main characters all nicknamed Sam: Samuel, who hosts an anonymous political internet program out of his bedroom; Samantha, a bristly loner who wants nothing more than to leave their town and Samir, who’s not so much an outcast than someone thirsty for status and public approval, masking his internal pain with a gregarious attitude.
The three of them become bonded by a cosmic force and discover newfound powers within them that overwhelm and intrigue them.
It’s one part Chronicle, one part Heathers and one part E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Each of the Sams’ inner turmoil is displayed frankly and with little sentimentality. They’ve been put through the wringer and their challenges ring familiar even if it’s been decades since you’ve stepped foot in a high school.
Alienated deals with trauma, budding sexuality, anger, anonymity, abandonment and self-abuse. These aren’t the usual obnoxious high school clichés, they’ve been updated. This modernized misery is best exemplified by the unpleasant character Leon: the initial link between the three Sams, brimming with resentful wrath. Or is he just misunderstood? We don’t get to find out for sure.
By the time we get to issue four, the three teens who are now taking care of a H.E.R.B.I.E.-like alien creature nicknamed Chip (as in “… off the old block”) have left no small amount of destruction in their wake waiting to be uncovered and discovered. H.E.R.B.I.E.’s not the only call back to the Fantastic Four, given the three Sams’ penchant for bickering and, you know, GREAT COSMIC POWERS.
Writer Simon Spurrier has a knack for turning the three Sams into sympathetic and relatable characters, even as we shake our heads at their appropriately immature decisions. He understands and empathizes with them. Chris Wildgoose’s art is clean and vibrant, and his main strength is in effortlessly implying motion into every panel without making the action frantic.
There’s a real sense of humor that runs throughout the series that keeps the angst from running the story into the ground, especially when the revelations and consequences begin to get dark.
As these kids’ lives start to gradually unhinge and Chip’s real motivations start to come into focus, the book starts to get more interesting. The walls are closing in on Chip and the Sams (Samuel’s mother is the police officer unknowingly investigating her own son’s crimes) and in between homework being due, class assignments that need to be met and old wounds that need healing, there isn’t a single character in Alienated that isn’t just that.
Alienated #4, BOOM! Studios, released July 8, written by Simon Spurrier, illustrated by Chris Wildgoose, coloring by André May, lettering by Jim Campbell, covers by Chris Wildgoose and variant cover by Christian Ward, designed by Scott Newman, edited by Eric Harburn and assistant editors Ramiro Portnoy