After starting off with such promise, Alienated #6 ends the story of the three Sams with a proto-Dark Phoenix style conflict without the emotional payoff, leaving the reader, well… alienated. The series, and writer Simon Spurrier could have benefited from having one or two more issues to end the story with the proper gravity it deserves.
Reeling from the devastating effects of Chip’s true powers, the Sams have a terrible choice to make. As they face off once and for all, Chip – and the town of Tangletree – hangs in the balance.
And just like that: poof. It was gone.
In my review for Alienated #5, I expressed my anticipation in seeing how writer Simon Spurrier and artist Chris Wildgoose were going to wrap up this series. After all the bombast, destruction, dissipation and death, Alienated #6 left me feeling … well, alienated.
We really didn’t get to know these kids at all, only their situation. What I initially called a “tapestry” ended up with so many loose threads, they might as well be tassels.
There are resolutions, but the story feels like it’s either hiding something more profound within – really hiding – or that this is just a set-up for a continuation, like a pilot to a yet-to-be-made TV show.
Either way, the story of the three Sams (Samir, Samuel, and Samantha), alienated teens imbued with incredible cosmic power by their alien companion, Chip, is over. In its place, it’s left a crater as big as that incurred by the wrath of the emotionally overwhelmed and power-corrupted Samuel.
Spurrier knows these characters. He sympathizes with them and understands the immaturity that drove them to make such stunningly bad decisions. When Samantha tells Samuel, “You went too far. Big %$&#ing deal. That’s called being a kid,” there’s a sincerity there that belies its defensive tactic.
Spurrier also understands the idealistic nobility that burns intensely bright in youth and how that light can become a firestorm incurred by instability and insecurity.
I can’t help but feel that Spurrier wrote himself into a corner, raising the stakes so high that he didn’t know how else to really end the series with the same gravity it started — but what a great start!
There’s an implication that unchecked anger — not to mention unchecked power — can corrupt anyone, regardless of status or affiliation. That those that own up to their transgressions end up evolving, while those that don’t end up consumed.
I truly believe that Spurrier, Wildgoose (whose vivid, vibrant work throughout the series has been superb), colorist André May and letterer Jim Campbell, could have elevated the series properly if they only had one or two more issues. The end of the book feels hurried and curt, like someone who forgot the time and has to cram breakfast before leaving for an appointment.
Here? The plates are still full save for some crumbs. The story and the characters feel abandoned, morphing into a proto-‘Dark Phoenix‘ conflict without the emotional payoff.
I will say this, though: bravo for the creative team for not taking the easy way out and using some hackneyed time travel trope to try to close the series out. At least here we might be unresolved and underwhelmed, but not cheated.
All of which leads me to ask the basic question: what was “alienated” about? Was it about the feeling of alienation from the crowd? Was it about being “alienated” with awesome alien powers? Was it about the alienation in ourselves; the disconnect between trauma and healing? Well, it’s all of these and ultimately none of these. The running theme throughout the series is trauma and its aftermath, and that’s one mountain many of us don’t get over, just around. So in that, its unresolved nature is at least consistent.
The story ends with a muted acknowledgement of the catastrophes that occurred over the length of the series, albeit with a few small victories for the survivors who end up moving on into uncertainty. Neither their world nor ours receives the satisfaction or benefit of closure.
Alienated #6, BOOM! Studios, released Sept. 30, 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