Reading certain comics feels like being carried through an idyllic temporal plane infused with magic. You’re swept away — mentally, emotionally, and physically — by merging landscapes of words and illustrations, upending the paradigm of expectancy. Life Is Strange: Coming Home #2 from Titan Comics courses with this wondrous magical essence.
The second and concluding expanded issue in the Coming Home saga opens during a snowball fight between Max and Chloe. It’s evident these are the Max and Chloe from their original universe timeline. Aged up a few years since Max sacrificed Arcadia Bay to save Chloe from death, the two lovers laugh with contentment, joke about Max’s cosmic, time-rewinding powers, and share a kiss under the blissful sky dotted white with falling snow.
A reconnected Max and Chloe seems like magic, right? Of course, all magic comes with a price, and this ethereal moment was too good to be true, to my utter dismay.
Oh, how this comic plays with reader emotions.
Strands of happiness are quickly snipped as both Max and Chloe realize the reality — or rather un-reality — of their presence together. Max heartbreakingly awakens from the glorious dream, and our hearts break along with her. Unfortunately, a rude awakening snaps her back into the universe across the transect where Chloe is currently dating and accompanying a living Rachel Amber on her Shakespeare theatrical tour. Life Is Strange can’t possibly wrap up all the fraying and loose narrative ends in the first three pages. However, the scenes offer a foreshadowing in dream form; a twisted, ethereal glimpse of hope for our reality-stranded women.
Emma Viecelli, artist Claudia Leonardi, colorist Andrea Izzo, and letterers Jimmy Bentacort and Richard Starkings sprinkle moments teeming with thematic significance throughout the rivulets in Life Is Strange: Coming Home #2. Tonal anticipation paces the story magnetically, carrying readers downstream toward Max and Chloe’s enchanting ending. As I said, this issue is overflowing with hypnotic beauty, bristling inside and waiting to erupt like a rabbit from a magician’s hat.
In the Life Is Strange: Before the Storm prequel video game, audiences were introduced to Blackwell student and roleplaying aficionado, Steph Gingrich. During Episode Two, “Brave New World” Steph compliments Chloe’s new hair and comments, “Sometimes you’ve just gotta do something new.” Additionally, Steph is also a confirmed major character in the new Life Is Strange: True Colors video game releasing September 9th.
How coincidental that, not only does Max discover a new time-controlling power in Life Is Strange: Coming Home #2, but Steph also makes a crucial appearance in this comic issue! Sometimes, you’ve just gotta do something new to change destiny’s course. Max and Chloe’s fate is irrevocably altered after encounters with newness, and Max’s new manipulative ability she dubs “pocket time.”
How can I describe this issue without spoiling major events? How can I accurately put into words the extreme empathy and emotional catharsis rolling into this issue like a storm?
Let me say one thing: All creators in this book combine forces with the entire power of the transect to create a few of the most stunningly poignant comic pages I’ve ever had the honor to lay eyes upon. A blue butterfly floats through the panels, sun-glittered light speckling its color-revolving wings. Max watches in the forefront of a black background transforming behind her, dialogue hauntingly predicting the narrative’s metamorphosing forecast. These scenes occur midway through the issue where a normal-sized issue would end on a natural cliffhanger. Since pandemic delays forced two double-sized issues into containing the Coming Home arc, readers are lucky to receive an immediate answer to this butterfly scene. Ultimately, the climaxing moment halfway into Coming Home functions as one of the story’s final catalysts.
The butterfly transitioning pages reverberate in my thoughts, even days after reading. I could almost breathe a sigh of hesitant relief watching Max and Chloe break through their encasing chrysalises and stretch their captured wings back toward one another. The payoff to this moment over the last fifteen Life Is Strange comic issues was worth every anguishing ebb and flow. Life Is Strange has always balanced character-driven emotional resonance with well-placed story beat conflicts. Here, emotion and storylines collide, equal parts miraculous and calamitous in its implications. God, this comic series is good.
Both struggles regarding experiencing grief and managing grief have heavily saturated the thematic material in Life Is Strange. How does one relieve themselves of a self-imposed guilt for supposedly causing their own grief while shuttering the blinds to the unvarnished truth?
Max receives clarity from an unexpected stranger. A woman tells her how she too has lost people, and we must give ourselves permission to mourn, channeling that loss in order to preserve their memory. In essence, this issue allows Max to relieve herself from feelings of selfishness over her grief involved with separation from Chloe. Selfish grief is encouraged because Max — and all of humanity — have valid feelings. Thank you, Life Is Strange for reminding us all of a valuable lesson.
In a present day where grief, loss of loved ones, and separation is more relevant than ever, Life Is Strange: Coming Home #2 shines truths like a magical beacon cutting through the clamor of a storm. If there was ever a time to read Life Is Strange, the time is now. Do yourself a favor and pick up this issue — and the entire series before the final arc this year — today. You deserve a little magic in your life.