Alienated is one of the most intriguing new creator-owned series coming from BOOM! Studios all year. It mixes teen drama with science fiction so very well, and blends lettering, art, and character progression keenly. The third issue is out this week after a two-plus month hiatus thanks to the pandemic. The second issue was quite good, but can the third issue blow us away further? For even more insight check out the podcast interview I did with writer Si Spurrier and artist Chris Wildgoose a few months ago about Alienated.
This issue continues the trend of focusing on one of the three main characters’ days hanging with the alien they call Chip. It’s Samantha’s turn with Chip and the book opens with her trying to keep the alien busy while she watches her friend’s vlog. It’s a vlog that very much could get them all in trouble, as it features a video of the bully Chip ate in issue #1. It sets in motion an A-plot that turns out to be a surprising twist cliffhanger, allowing Samantha’s B-plot some room to explore the character.
This is by and large a character drama with science fiction used to explore what a teenager might due with limitless power. There is one caveat, however: Samantha, Samuel, and Samir are all connected mentally, so they can’t quite do anything they want without being found out. This issue explores Samantha in a surprising way that takes us down a dark road and makes us question if Samantha is capable of horrible things. Spurrier has cleverly set this up with the reveal of Samuel in issue #2 that helps check and balance our expectations. It’ll be interesting to see Samir’s turn taking care of Chip in the next issue, since each issue builds so wonderfully off what we know of these characters.
The science fiction elements continue to grow and become more interesting, too. The powers of Chip almost seem limitless, but some key reveals and further exploring its powers this issue is starting to round things off. Is it an alien, or something more? The mystery of the alien isn’t forgotten by the creators, and that’s another subplot to drive your interest into the story.
Art by Wildgoose and colors by Andre May do well to pace the story with expansion in full-page spreads or structured layouts when it’s all about the brass tacks of a scene. The use of gutters to display letters (which are beautifully designed by Jim Campbell) add to the experience. These kids are inside each other’s heads and the captions inside the gutters help convey the spaces of their minds. Wildgoose continues to make Chip scary, cute, and everything in between with great attention to detail when Chip isn’t the focus of a panel. It’s worth re-reading this issue just to see the poses Wildgoose puts Chip in.
The plot thickens in this issue in more ways than one. The characters are going down a dangerous road while tempting fate with the abilities of a god. There are many moving parts worth exploring and every single one is edge-of-your-seat storytelling.