Alienated #4 Review

by Nick Devonald on July 07, 2020

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Chris Wildgoose
Colours: André May
Letters: Jim Campbell

We’re now four issues into our six issue run. The past two issues have focused on first Samuel, then Samantha. Continuing that trend we now have an issue focusing on our final Sam, Samir. Just as each issue has drawn us deep into the character where we learn something unexpected lurking beneath the surface, so to does this issue draw us deep into fun loving Samir’s personality and it’s a lot darker and more twisted than the reader expects.

Samuel wants to change the world. Samantha is still reeling from giving up her baby. Samir is in pain. Feelings of worthless-ness plague him and leave him in a dark, dark place. This issue deals with incredibly dark themes, including self harm and suicide. These are difficult subject matters and need to be handled with a certain degree of tact. Spurrier doesn’t shy away from these darker storylines, rather he embraces them fully, not shying away from topics which a lot of readers will find difficult. It’s an unexpected direction for the series, and it reminds the reader that Simon Spurrier is a masterful storyteller. Spurrier always puts the characters at the front of the story.

Throughout this series there has been a feeling of recklessness and irresponsibility from the three teenagers, they’ve done bad things using Chips powers, but there’s also been a sense that deep down these are three good kids and there’ll be a relatively happy ending. This issue is the first one where these conceptions are challenged, and actually the ending is very up in the air.

It also looks at the effects that one persons decision can have on those surrounding them, completely oblivious to the hurt and damage it causes others. Of the way that everyone is interconnected, a deeper look at cause and effect.

As the last issue revealed Chip is just a child, and the three Sam’s have ended up being his surrogate parents. And, just like any other child, their parents mould and shape them. But what happens when the parents aren’t mature adults, what if they are essentially children themselves, still discovering themselves? What if their morals are still in flux, they’re still deciding on right and wrong? And imagine all that indecision and insecurities, coupled with Chip’s almost limitless power and abilities. These are the questions that Spurrier puts to the reader, then sets out to answer. Spurriers writing is masterful, his ability to surprise the reader and lack of fear to delve into some dark themes, coupled with an incredible imagination make him a writer to watch out for. The quality of Alienated is incredible.

Chris Wildgoose’s art is put to the test in this issue. Spurrier challenges him to really push the boat out with some of his designs for Chip and his abilities in this issue, and Wildgoose not only rises to the challenge he knocks the readers expectations out of the water. Chip and his abilities are so incredibly alien and exotic, not only does the art look fantastical on the page it’s also an integral part of the storytelling. Then we have the less exotic scenes, which he brings to life with a realism which is in keeping with the excellent characterisation.

Some of the scene’s Wildgoose has created on the page are incredible, then André May’s colours really bring them to life. They help to reinforce just how alien Chip is. Then of course May has cleverly used colours throughout the series to help differentiate between the different Sam’s, not only in the colour of the text but each characters clothes and environment end up reflecting their individual colours. It makes what could otherwise be confusing telepathic scenes easily understood, it’s so well done that readers are only subconsciously aware of it even as it aids the reading process and takes any extra thought out of it.

Each issue of Alienated has been better than the last, taking the story in unexpected directions and really building on our understanding of the characters. We begin to understand the reasons why each character feels ‘alienated’. This issue covers some dark territory which is rarely addressed head on, but Spurrier does it with a surprising sensitivity towards the subject matter. An incredibly difficult series to describe, it’s a definite must read.

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