Review - Strayed #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"Is he actually doing it? The thing?"

Alien life is always on the lookout for other alien life. In Strayed #1 from Dark Horse Comics, communication amongst aliens is brokered by a telepathic cat. The issue is written by Carlos Giffoni, illustrated by Juan Doe and lettered by Matt Krotzer.

In the far future, a military-industrial complex reigns over all humanity and actively destroys distant alien worlds. The galaxy's only hope can be found through an unlikely pair: an astral-projecting cat named Lou and his loving owner Kiara. Trading nine lives for the well-being of billions, their revolt is a battle for love, friendship, compassion, and the soul of humanity.

Giffoni's narrative in the issue seems very simple on its surface, but there's actually a lot more complexity to it than that. The crux of the series is the relationship between Dr. Rodriguez and Lou, a cat who's capable of conversing with others thanks to the technology created by Dr. Rodriguez. Their relationship is a big explainer for the broader topic of the series which Giffoni offers as the concept of weaponizing science. Giffoni cruises through most of the issue fairly quickly, but that doesn't lessen the impact at all because the reader still gets a good idea of everything that's going on. The dialogue varies between in-depth conversations and sparse thoughts about space, all of which Giffoni manages well to keep the reader engaged.

Doe's linework is very crisp and fluid that's somewhat minimal on the details. Lou looks like a cat, but where Doe really excels is in rendering the other alien creatures, some of whom look downright terrifying. The pages aren't constrained by panels at all really, with most of the pages somewhat ambiguous in its form and offering a free-flowing mentality. The panels that are there are outlined with white borders that allow them to stand out a bit more against the darker backdrop of space. Doe's colors are bright and vivid which also provide a good contrast and give the book a space-flair.

Strayed #1 on its surface seems to be about a talking cat who ventures through space, but it's more complicated than that. Dr Rodriguez and Lou are the focus of the issue, although there's a larger, intergalactic bent to the proceedings that give the story more weight. Giffoni has a larger concept for the story in mind than just a talking cat and it shows by the end of the issue. Doe's illustrations are very concise and provide a clean look at the action. Strayed #1 is an interesting first issue that snowballs in fascinating twists as it unfolds.

Strayed #1 is available August 14.