Everyone knows the consequences of absolute power — and the three Sams are no exception. As their different desires come to a head, the only thing that stands in their way is each other. And Chip’s deadly powers are in the center of it all.
Right as this mini-series is winding up with its penultimate issue, Alienated #5 ramps up the stakes and leaves us with the lesson that — inevitably — with great power comes great accountability.
Throughout the run of the series, we’ve seen two of the three “Sams” (lonely Samuel, loner Samantha, and approval-seeking Samir) face and come to terms with the sources of their pain and abandonment with varying degrees of vengeance.
In this issue, it’s Samuel’s turn and here he takes full advantage of the cosmic powers afforded him by Chip, the alien lifeform the Sams have taken into their care. Emboldened by Chip and fueled by simmering anger at his own frustration and rejection, Samuel finally confronts his idol, the masked viral internet star Waxy.
On his way there, there’s a subtle point made that optimism remains steadfast, even in the face of the hydra of chaos and negativity, which is only preoccupied in chewing off its own heads and replacing them with new ones.
At one point after, Samuel finds himself literally acting out, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” (Well, not so much the sound part) and all of his actions culminate into one panicked, truly horrific, catastrophic moment.)
The running themes of abandonment and alienation aren’t broadcast by writer Simon Spurrier in exclamation points. They get clearer upon reflection and Spurrier harbors a good deal of good will towards his conflicted lead characters.
He knows that the Sams are aware of their own out-of-control feelings and actions (with Samir the most open for taking personal responsibility) but that they’re too overwhelmed by their own choices — and rage — that they hardly seem aware they’re making them — much less being open to the actual awareness of their consequences.
The Sams might be connected telepathically, but their connection to the world outside only seems to come intermittently in fits and spurts. Little by little, the reality of their surroundings broadcasting through the haze like a comedown.
The art by Chris Wildgoose is still crisp and animated, but also superb at getting across the feeling of dreamlike unreality when Samuel is confronted with something so emotionally monumental as with what happens in the middle and at the end of the issue. The coloring rendered by André May is especially effective here in helping portray his internal and external devastation.
There’s one more consideration worth mentioning. The line that precedes my earlier William Shakespeare quote carries a particular gravity regarding this story: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.”
It’s all too relevant because, short of time travel or reality warping, I can’t see how Alienated can be resolved in its next — and final issue — without huge, open-ended, world-changing ramifications.
There are too many questions, too many threads to this tapestry, that I’m not sure how Spurrier and Wildgoose are going to weave it into a satisfying, resolute conclusion. I look forward to the attempt.
Alienated #5, BOOM! Studios, released August 12, written by Simon Spurrier, illustrated by Chris Wildgoose, coloring by André May, lettering by Jim Campbell, cover by Chris Wildgoose, variant cover by Matías Bergera, designer: Scott Newman, assistant editor: Ramiro Portnoy, editor: Eric Harburn