What if you could read minds? It’s an enticing prospect but certainly, it would come with some downsides, like in the version of mind reading in Alienated by Si Spurrier and Chris Wildgoose. In this story, three high school kids can read each other’s thoughts. Oh, and they also have a new pet somehow connected to the powers that will eat bullies. That ain’t good. The second issue is out this week and in it, the plot very much thickens.
The plot thickens largely because things change quite a bit between issue #1 and issue #2. The powers of these children are a bit more under control and only two days have passed when the book opens. There are also some interesting reveals in regards to the alien (cutely named Chip, which Wildgoose hilariously kept mentioning on the AIPT Comics Podcast), which seems like an innocent creature. The problem is when you add the human element to something innocent, it tends to get corrupted. That’s a deeply interesting element to watch, as Spurrier and Wildgoose reveal the intentions of one of the three high school kids in this issue named Samuel.
It’s starting to look like each kid will be the focus of subsequent issues after they each were explored in the first issue. This issue has us following Samuel who has been hiding the alien and seems to be going down a new road he may not be able to come back from. It’s fascinating stuff if you like character exploration as Samuel seemed to be a decent kid but now with a little bit of power, it’s going to his head. Spurrier shows this via his reactions to a popular girl who is taking advantage of the missing bully. The inner anger and frustration Samuel has exhibited come out and it’s fun to analyze his behavior and the outside factors that are influencing his choices. There are some deep moral questions to ponder as the series progresses and that makes the book all the more rewarding to read.
Added to that rewarding reading aspect is Wildgoose’s art (with colors by André May) which continues to excel at capturing the inner thoughts and evolving emotions of these kids. Chip continues to look cute as hell, and while he has a scary look in some respects (especially in one scene) you very much gain a sense of its intentions as an innocent animal. The use of Ben-Day dots continues to be excellent in the issue, adding a sense of shading and volume to help make the pages pop. It’s a colorful book giving it a fun vibe, but when it comes to characters they are rendered and colored in a way to be taken seriously.
This is a great second issue that shockingly jumps ahead a bit and forces the reader to catch up. That makes it exciting as it never overly explains or feels slow. It’s one of the best psychological explorations I’ve read in comics for quite a while.