Life is Strange #4 concludes what would have been a miniseries featuring Max and Chloe after the “Sacrifice Arcadia Bay” ending. This series was promoted to an ongoing series, so this makes it the conclusion of the first arc. However, this presents a problem which we will get to in a moment. I do look forward to more adventures with Max and Chloe from the creative team of Emma Vieceli and Claudia Leonardi. What they did to expand upon Max’s abilities is fascinating in Life is Strange #4. I’m just not sure if it sticks with the landing.
Great Concept, But Poor Ending
The previous issue ended with a bombshell revelation that Max is experiencing flickers. These flickers are causing her to transport between alternate realities instead of time as previously thought. It was a brilliant reveal and added to the storytelling possibilities of Max’s power. Emma takes it a step further by introducing the Transect. The sort of space between spaces where all possible realities can be seen and entered by Max. This is just a good science fiction concept and makes her power seem less generic as a result.
However, this is where the ending comes in, which weighs down Life is Strange #4 from being great. After a big moment where Chloe and Max kiss, there is an incredibly odd scene transition. This transition comes out of nowhere and makes the epilogue to this story feel tacked on. When the series was upgraded to an ongoing there was a delay in production to restructure the story. Everything feels just too perfect and happy, even though there is some emotional pain. There is even a fanservice scene which proposes the idea that the rest of this series is going to be the misadventures of Max, Chloe, and Rachel.
While I’m not opposed to the idea, it just comes out of left field. The ending felt like we were building up to an emotional moment between Chloe and Max. After they got the closure they so desperately needed; Max would be lost in the Transect thus facing the consequences of her actions. We have a variation on that ending that rips away the emotional impact, thus giving us a more traditional ending. This causes a disconnect between the story being told from the first issue and the ending of Life is Strange #4.
The Build-Up Was Perfect
Claudia Leonardi’s art has been growing on me. When I started the series, her art just wasn’t my cup of tea. But as I’ve gotten used to it and really dug into the details of the art, the more I love it. She has a great sense of composition, camera angles, and panel layouts. Her art, as stated previously, is a little stylized but has just enough realism to make things seem grounded. While Max and Chloe don’t look exactly like their game counterparts, by the time Life isStrange #4 rolls around, they are closer to being on model and fit the tone of the comic much better.
What I like most about Claudia’s art in Life is Strange #4 is that there is a gradual build-up to the Max and Chloe kiss. If you look at her composition from the first issue to this one, you will notice that in the panels Chloe and Max are gradually getting closer together. Then in this issue, they are repeatedly close to each other at almost claustrophobic degrees and have their heads touching. But it’s not until the height of the emotional impact did the kiss happen. Claudia also does the amazing trick of having several panels in a descending order show them getting ready to kiss. Then she hits us with a splash page featuring the kiss, brilliant stuff. Not only is it something many fans have wanted to see, but it also through the use of panels metaphorically showing Max and Chloe shedding their baggage and getting closure.
Life is Strange#4 Is Good But It Has Problems
Life is Strange #4 is a good ending to the first arc. The ending feels rushed and tacked on, leaving us with an open-ended story. Personally, I would have preferred a tight, character-focused ending that played on the emotions and consequences of Max’s actions. I can understand why we got the ending we did. I look forward to seeing where this goes and hope that this ending is justified in the future.