WRITER(S): Carlos Giffoni.
Artist(S): Juan Doe.
Colourist(s): Juan Doe.
Letterer(s): Chas! Pangburn.
PUBLISHER: Dark House Books.
RELEASE DATE: MAY 26TH, 2020.
GENRE(S): COMICS, SCIENCE-FICTION.
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆.
Have you ever felt so overwhelmingly happy to be around certain people that you’d do anything for them? The sense of belonging can be mysteriously hypnotizing and leave you blind with a desire to please and satisfy. Imagine the strength of this love in pets, those very life companions that long for your love and attention (and probably also for your food). But sometimes, happiness can be an illusion fed through false promises and empty words. Sometimes, they open your eyes to the ugly truth and everything you believed in crumbles before you. Collecting issues #1-5 of Strayed, debut comic book writer Carlos Giffoni and veteran comic book artist Juan Doe join forces to deliver a story featuring a powerful cat and his owner off to change the world in unimaginable ways.
What is Strayed about? Set in a faraway future, the story follows an astral-projecting cat named Lou and his owner Kiara Rodriguez condemned to working for a military-industrial complex ruled by Premier Peely. Through a translation device, Lou is able to communicate his thoughts to his owner, and innocently utilizes his powers to search out for habitable planets with a viable and organic energy source. What he doesn’t know is that his abilities are used for much sinister plans that rhyme with galaxy domination through destruction and colonization. It’s when Lou learns the truth that he then becomes the last hope to save humanity before it’s too late.
This stand-alone graphic novel has a lot of great ideas but most of them come off half-baked. It isn’t a flaw in itself, especially when you realize its length, its focus on the artwork rather than a wordy exposition, and its elusive desire to raise philosophical questions. Without ever beating around the bushes, the story dives headfirst into this science-fiction universe and quickly establishes the few characters and their relationship with one another. The various dilemmas are then established, leaving the reader with questions to ponder, whether it’s the cost of one life versus that of millions or the omission of the truth from loved ones for their own good. The final act, where all the cards are flipped over, the story takes an unexpected turn as it allocates the final issue to a completely hallucinatory experience that tackles themes of love, loss, purpose, and home. While this final issue was visually commendable, it forbade this tale to offer any form of closure and left a lot of loose threads hanging around in the universe.
If there’s one thing this story does right, it’s the artwork. Artist Juan Doe pencils and colours all five issues and does an exquisite job in sharing a gorgeous vision of a galaxy filled with beautiful yet dangerous creatures. Whether it’s a planet with inorganic beings (e.g. A.I.) or creatures with an advanced form of communication, there’s a truly outstanding visual understanding of this universe in which this story is set and the artwork allows the reader to be immediately immersed in this environment throughout this voyage through space. Tinted in shades of green, orange, and brown, the artwork also fully appreciates the liberty of structure as it presents stunning splash pages that capture a very experimental visual style.
Strayed is a psychedelic and out-of-body adventure featuring a disillusioned feline creature and his search for happiness.