It is the distant future. Military scientist Kiara Rodriguez has discovered a means of translating thoughts to language. Because of this discovery, she finds out her cat, Lou, can do some incredible things. Unfortunately, the military has become extremely interested in Lou.
Strayed #1, published by Dark Horse Comics, written by Carlos Giffoni, art and colors by Juan Doe, and letters by Matt Krotzer, wastes no time getting right into it. Right off the bat, we are treated with a splash page showcasing Lou as he uses his special ability to astral travel in search of planets fitting a description he’s been given. He does this believing it will please his owner Kiara. Unfortunately, Kiara’s request is not being made of her free will. She is being forced to use Lou’s abilities for the military’s own purposes.
This introduction to Strayed #1 highlights the best aspects of this issue. The imagery used to depict Lou’s travels is both striking and vibrant. Lots of sharply contrasting colors keep the reader’s eye happily going from panel to panel, compelling them to take in the vastness of the universe. This journey feels both all-encompassing and, at the same time, almost intimate. Each planet discovered is given a quick glance and judgment by the feline. Through this, we get a base understanding of just where on the intelligence scale Lou is. It introduces us to his motivations and personality and does it with a great amount of subtle elegance.
After Lou’s journey concludes the first portion of the book Strayed #1 spends the rest of its time catching the reader up on how and why the story has arrived at this place. While writer Carlos Giffoni does a satisfactory job of laying out the ground work of this story it isn’t anything exceptional. The story beats all feel recycled, almost as if I had read this story before. It does go out of its way to give hints of things to come that might shake up the formula down the road, but, barring this promise of future developments, it’s all pretty by the numbers for Strayed #1.
After the first couple pages of Strayed #1, the art also begins to struggle a bit as well. While the gorgeous use of color continues to lend a special appeal to the pages, I personally didn’t enjoy the illustrations themselves. Many of the images, especially those of people, were too devoid of detail for my taste. Facial features, in particular, feel almost non-existent much of the time. This overly simplified style felt like a let down after the initial promise I felt from the first couple pages of Strayed #1. Although, when there are no people involved, the art does take a noticeable uptick. A dream sequence midway through the book almost recaptures that initial captivation I felt with the art.
While Strayed #1 struggles a bit, I can certainly see where there is the potential for greater things to come. If the book can expand its story past the classic tropes it builds on here, there could be a unique story waiting to be told about a scientist and her especially gifted cat.
Strayed #1 releases on 8/14.
While Strayed #1 struggles a bit, I can certainly see where there is the potential for greater things to come.