We’ve reached the penultimate issue of Alienated, which has set in motion a rollercoaster of emotions in its three lead characters and their alien cohort Chip. These teenagers are going through a lot, be it thoughts of self-harm, jealousy, or a desire to be heard, but those emotions are being amplified by the abilities of Chip, who can alter reality and make these teenagers gods. It’s a scary scene, one that Si Spurrier and Chirs Wildgoose have expertly crafted to make a typically angst-ridden field of fiction into something wholly original and unnervingly real. Issue #5 sets up the climactic issue while totally blowing up the world these three kids share.
One reason this series has been so addictive, absorbing, and wholly understandable is how the creators have built up the tensions, drama, and fears of these children over each issue. Time passes between the issues, and with that gap in time, we see expansion. Expansion of the children’s understanding of Chip, their emotions growing wildly out of control, and their ability to control themselves grow ever more difficult. It’s like watching a freight train without brakes, only this train won’t just crash or fall off a bridge — it could destroy everything. Like a metronome that’s pushed too hard, something is about to break.
Alienated #5 opens with a boy named Vern Heath talking about how we must do the little things to enact change. Shouting and stamping your feet will not get things done, even in the face of a world with religious fanaticism, corporate greed, and rampant racism. He was picked to be a guest for an online streamer named Waxy, and sadly this detail is why Samuel can’t hear the truth in his words. He can only feel anger over not being picked.
Spurrier expertly tilts our attention to Samuel having a moment of clarity and positivity, giving us hope he can be saved after his terrible anger and acts have shown what he’s capable of, but alas, it doesn’t stick. As one of the three protagonists, it gives us hope for the character, further making the narrative tragic as he goes more and more off the rails using Chip’s power for harm in the book. Meanwhile, Samir and Samantha are starting to see the light and what they must do to right their wrongs. The emotional journey they have been on is paying off and real lessons are learned, but like with most penultimate issues, by the end, we ponder, “Are they too late?”
Chris Wildgoose continues to expertly articulate these characters’ deepest fears, desires, and various emotions expertly. They are wholly real because we feel what they feel every step of the way. That includes the awkwardness of doing wrong and evil, and Wildgoose reminds us they too understand what they do is wrong but can’t help it. It’s in these emotional outbursts we most feel their pain.
There is also the strange horror aspect that Wildgoose captures so well. The supernatural nature of the book is smartly used sparingly to enhance the moments where reality-twisting things occur at the hands of these deeply emotional teenagers. You see that here too. Andre May adds depth to these scenes with their color throughout. The blue bubble that surrounds Samuel helps convey their emotional state, or later, the warm tones surrounding Samuel as he takes the place of Waxy builds tension and the fear we’re exhibiting as we hope he doesn’t do something truly evil.
This issue makes strong statements about how we actively live in our society and so often react to it with rage and anger when small acts of kindness may be our only way to salvation. It opens with a speech that makes you reflect, then perfectly reveals an example of the rage that doesn’t work told via the perspective of the angry character and how they think it’s doing good and inspiring. But it is not. Spurrier and Wildgoose should be commended for telling a story that shows complex ideas that are difficult to visualize in an understandable and stimulating way.
Spurrier and Wildgoose have crafted with despair, anger, and fully realized people a fantasy that works superbly on so many levels. Alienated floats in an air of supernatural disquiet and tension, at a point of reflection, mirrored in everything and everyone.
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