Review - Alienated #1 (@boomstudios)

"Better anonymous than unappreciated."

Life in high school is hard enough without having to deal with strange alien visitors affecting the minds of the students. In Alienated #1 from BOOM! Studios, three students learn that such an event makes things much more difficult. The issue is written by Simon Spurrier, illustrated by Chris Wildgoose, colored by André May and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Three teenagers, each an outcast in their own way, stumble upon an unearthly entity as it's born. As they bond over this shared secret and the creature's incredible abilities, it becomes clear to the teenagers that their cute little pet is a super-predator in the making - and it's in need of prey. Guided by the best intentions at first, the teens' decisions soon become corrupted by adolescent desires, small town jealousies, and internal rivalries, sending them into a catastrophic spiral of their own making.

Spurrier relies on a very steady cadence for the issue, both in terms of introducing the characters and establishing to overarching narrative for the issue (and seires). Each of the three main characters (Samuel, Samantha and Samir) are all outcasts in their own ways and they're united by their shared experience in the forest that acts as a catalyst for strange psychic phenomenon. Spurrier leans on their shared alienation as a means of exploring the larger subject of feeling like an outcast, using dialogue representative of their thoughts as a means of narrating the events of the issue. There's also a steady subplot of a bully that's used to unify the three even further, providing Spurrier ample opportunity to amplify their loneliness. Spurrier ends the issue with a sufficient cliffhanger, clearly setting the direction for the remainder of the series to go slightly off the rails in terms of weirdness.

The artwork by Wildgooes is very much in a comic style befitting of the overall approach of the book. Each of the characters are given very distinct appearances that help differentiate them--both from one another and from the other students in the school. The empty gutters draw more attention to the action happening in the panels, further accentuated by the black outlines of the panels themselves. The colors by May are vibrant throughout the issue, helping to establish scenes such as the halls of the high school and the forest at sunset. Campbell does an excellent job on the lettering as well, effectively affording each character their own thoughts that are clearly defined by various color schemes.

Alienated #1 is a fascinating first issue that capitalizes on the title in more ways than one. Samuel, Samantha and Samir are all outcasts in their own way, brought together unexpectedly by unforeseen events and a mysterious visitor. Spurrier's script does a great job of defining each character and giving them common threads to share amongst the three of them, shown especially well by their shared internal dialogue. Wildgoose's artwork effortlessly captures a day in the life of a high school student and all the misadventures they often find themselves in. Alienated #1 is a very fun take on the concept of feeling isolated in high school, allowing those to find solace in a shared experience with others.

Alienated #1 is available now.