The Life is Strange ongoing is back after a brief hiatus between arcs with Life is Strange #9. The new arc, “Strings”, seems to be bringing the disparate elements from the previous two arcs together in an interesting way. Both Emma Vieceli and Claudia Leonardi are using the fact this is taking place in an alternate dimension to their full advantage as Rachel gets some extra focus in Life is Strange #9. This may very well shape up to be the best arc yet.

What Would You Do If You Found Out You Died?

Max finally tells Chloe and Rachel the truth about herself. She is from another universe in which horrible decisions have to be made for the greater good. Max has let herself become accustomed to this life, this universe. The problem is that she feels guilty. While she has Chloe back and a new friend in Rachel, these aren’t her Chloe and Rachel. They are someone else that happens to talk and look like them. She wants her friends back, which means finding a way back to her universe.

Max bears her soul.
Life is Strange #9; Titan Comics 2019

But this is where the most interesting bit of Life is Strange #9 happens, and hopefully it will be the focus of the arc. While Chloe is dealing with the implications of multiple universes, Rachel has to deal with the status of her other lives in said universes. She is dead.

Worse than that, she was killed by one of the worst people imaginable. She never truly got to be in love with Chloe before being dragged away from her. And that doesn’t count all the potential problems that Max’s version of Rachel went through, as seen in the games. Rachel was already a fascinating character to me, and she has the potential to become my favourite out of the cast. Where she goes will be fascinating to watch. I’m getting similar vibes to Tasha Yar’s arc in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.

Two Beautifully Silent Moments

I have pointed out on several occasions now where Claudia Leonardi really shines. From her art all the way to her panel layouts, she has been phenomenal all the way through. But there are two pages in Life is Strange #9 where I think Emma Vieceli and her work on such the same frequency that it makes them pop. The very first page is one of these examples. It’s the silence and the framing of the panels that affect the reader most.

Rachel reacts to her death.
Life is Strange #9; Titan Comics 2019

By facing Max away from the audience and repeating the image five times, they emphasize the magnitude of the moment. Max is pouring her heart out and it’s causing so much anguish. The trio is trying to keep up and understand. The amount of times it’s repeated shows the length of time that this is taking, it’s not easy. And then Claudia Leonardi changes the panel just slightly for the sixth and final panel of the page. This indicates the shock everyone is going through and Emma Vieceli lightens the mood slightly with Chloe comedically saying

“Well, shit.”

Later in the issue, when Rachel is alone, there is a three-panel page that is completely silent. It’s so impactful because of this silence. We see Rachel heading towards the door, turning around with her back to the door, and then sliding down into the fetal position. Rachel was genuinely trying to make the effort to move forward and get past the revelation she was just hit with. But she can’t, the knowledge that she died in another universe is just too much to bear. It consumes her.

Life is Strange #9 Is One Hella Great Way To Start An Arc

Life is Strange #9 uses the heightened science fiction elements of special powers and universe hopping to analyze the characters at the center of the story. That has always been the series’ strength and continues to be its biggest selling point. The focus on Rachel is welcome and the implications for the future are interesting enough to keep me excited every month.