Juan Doe (Artist and Colours), Carlos Giffoni (Writer), Matt Krotzer (Letters)
Dark Horse Comics
August 14, 2019
In the very far future, Dr. Kiara Rodriguez creates a kind of universal translator. She mainly uses it to talk to her cat, Lou. But when the military find out about it, Kiara and Lou are put to work looking for resources. They were supposed to search for just one planet, but as Kiara realises in Strayed #1, one will never be enough for the military.
I recently reviewed a feline-related comic for WWAC, so when another one crossed my path, I couldn’t help but snap it up to review. Strayed #1 is the beginning of a sci-fi series that promises to be quite exciting. This first issue sets up much of what we can expect in future installments—we get a fair idea of the bond between Kiara and Lou, the military’s agenda, and the existence of a new resource that should not fall into the wrong hands.
In that sense, Strayed covers the hallmarks of sci-fi stories. The good guys versus the baddies. The power they are fighting to win or protect. And, of course, the central, loving relationship between a human and, well, her adorable cat. We all know that feeling!
However, even though I’m certain this series is going to be doing exciting things in coming issues, the first issue itself doesn’t really do anything out of the box. It feels a lot like Avatar, but with a cat. There’s the evil military and a greedy leader. There’s even a sacred, alien holy place that has coveted resources. We’ve seen a lot this before, unfortunately.
What I would have liked to have seen in this book was something that challenged our expectations. We get a glimpse of it with an entity who seems to be talking to Lou through his dreams, and who rekindles long-forgotten memories from Lou’s past. This plot point was a fascinating entry in this issue, but I would have liked to have seen it developed further. As it stands, these pages feel incongruous to the rest of the book, and are also quickly forgotten.
One thing if for sure, Lou is not an ordinary cat. He has the ability to astral project to far away planets, and I assume we will get an explanation as to how he came to have this power in future issues. I have a feeling that these powers weren’t a fluke—something more sinister lies in Lou’s past.
What I enjoyed about Strayed #1 is that readers can understand how powerful Kiara and Lou’s bond is even if one doesn’t have a pet. You get it even if you don’t like cats! They’re like siblings, trying to protect one another and desperate to find a way back to each other. Despite the horror around them, their concerns lie with their little family unit. I really love this aspect of the book. It’s adorable and relatable, and I sincerely hope we get to see more of their bond over the course of the series.
What absolutely hooked me with Strayed was the art. Juan Doe’s work is gorgeous. His double-page spreads are mesmerising. His humans aren’t the most realistic, but that didn’t bother me. I love his style, and his colours, which are rich and dynamic. This book is a joy to behold in every sense.
As a starting point for a new story, Strayed #1 doesn’t push the boundaries as much as I would have expected it to. But it is a promising beginning, and I can see it building into a story that is full of twists and turns. At the moment, it is riding on its central relationship between a feisty human and her loving cat, which is fun and adorable. But the story needs much more if it is going to reel me in.