21st Apr2020

‘Life is Strange Vol.3: Strings’ Graphic Novel Review

by Xenia Grounds

Written by Emma Vieceli | Art by Claudia Leonardi, Andrea Izzo | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 112pp

At the end of the last volume, it’s safe to say that I found things a little disappointing because it’s where I really saw the cliched fanfiction tropes and it came across as fan service fluff until the very end of Vol.2. That said, this series of chapters in the story definitely put things back on the right track because it focuses a lot more on character and plot development.

Strings starts with Max revealing her powers to Chloe and Rachel so the weight she was carrying is now gone from her shoulders and Max wants to find a way back to her reality or string in the universe. It’s a slow start because the first ten pages or so are briefing Chloe and Rachel on things that we are already familiar with. It’s the way these characters deal with learning about their fates in another world that really drives some great moments.

For this version of Chloe, some things never change regardless of the universe. Chloe absolutely adores Max but she selfishly wants Max to stay in this world rather than go back to the one with another version of her. This is her best friend and Chloe doesn’t want to be abandoned again even if that sting doesn’t define her as much as it does in other realities. There’s a saying that comes to mind which is ‘If you love someone then let them go’ but as anyone who’s been in those situations knows; it’s easy in theory but harder in practice. Chloe acknowledges that it’s a selfish desire in those quiet moments when Max isn’t around even though we all know she is going through with helping her best friend. It’s a very human thing and I appreciate that the writing touches on these dilemmas because it’s a layer of characterisation that keeps them feeling like real people.

Rachel has a different response because she knows that she was brutally murdered in that reality. It raises the question of whether Max sees her more than the girl whose life was tragically cut short. Eventually, Rachel does ask Max that question and the answer Max gives is very heartfelt and one that gives value to this world. Max actually got to know Rachel/

Usually the side characters have been rather pointless but the perspective they bring in Strings is very well done because they’re on the outside. It helps bring our troubled trio out of their minds and the High Seas band of characters are a lot more likeable when they’re actually having their one-on-one conversations with one of our main girls.

Lastly is the character of Tristian. I’ll admit I drew a lot of harsh judgement on this character when he first showed up. He looked like such a cliche. He wore dark colours, he was brooding and he was a little arrogant. That said, I’m always happy to be taken by surprise. Yes, the idea that he warms up after knowing the girls more is still a predictable arc but it’s definitely a preferred characterisation because he fits in with the dynamic between Max, Chloe and Rachel. It was obvious that he would be important to the plot but he’s more important than the last issue seemed to imply. Even though we get some of the answers about him, there’s still more mystery to be solved especially given the cliffhanger ending in Strings.

When it comes to the art, Life Is Strange is still stellar. I always love that the characters look so true (in regards to clothing as well as physical traits) to the ones we saw in the video game series. The setting is absolutely beautiful and there are a lot of things to pick up in the background if you have an attentive eye. My personal favourite were the panels with the characters on a beach during the night because there’s a lot of warmth in the colours. There’s also a lot of dark pink shades in the climax which builds that unsettling feeling of something about to go horribly wrong in a place completely alien to you.

I’ve said it before but Life is Strange is at its best when they have interesting characters and meaningful interactions. This issue reaffirms that because it hits the right beats of mystery, drama and emotion. At the core of it, this is a story of trying to get back to the person you love and whether that happens for Max is still in the air but the ending of Strings makes sure you’ll want to find out.

Life Is Strange Vol. 3: Strings is available now!
US & Can: https://amzn.to/3adUhyR
UK & Europe: https://bit.ly/2xEeOz5
Digital: https://bit.ly/3esUnpv

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