I think I spent the time in between each issue of the second arc of Life is Strange anticipating major Chloe/Rachel drama because it just seemed so obvious to me that at some point they were going to have to deal with the possibility of a long distance relationship and the total availability of Max. All that stuff ultimately took a major backseat to the more immediate plot revolving around Tristan’s introduction to the book, which makes sense given the need to expand the cast a little bit beyond our three heroines. I mean, I could read stories about the friendliest of love triangles each month with no problem, but I suppose there does have to be something else going on in between the feels dumps of long chats about relationships.
The standard cover of this issue wraps around the book in two parts with a playing card motif. On the front we have Max, Chloe, and Rachel looking like they always belong in a deck of cards (I know this is not a novel visual concept, but it still delights me when I see it) with one face down card set beneath them. On the back it’s revealed that that card is Tristan, throwing a bit of chaos into the group’s relatively well-ordered lives. It’s a nice thematic nod to the way that Tristan’s introduction in the previous arc has precipitated a major upheaval in the status quo of Max’s life. Last issue closed with her promising to tell Chloe and Rachel everything because of what had happened since she’d met Tristan, and given the utterly bonkers nature of Max’s backstory (“I come from a different timeline where everyone you know and love is dead except me, and also there were a lot of murders and other dark stuff that happened”) the usual associations with playing cards like fragility, uncertainty, and the whims of fate are totally apropos. For the purposes of this issue itself, Tristan’s relatively minor; he’s there, but it’s also very clear he would rather not be because there’s a lot of baggage that Max needs to unpack, and it’s not the most comfortable thing for someone she’s just met to witness along with her close friends.
The entire first half of the book is just these four main characters sitting in their apartment unpacking everything that’s happened with Max. It’s like an extended recap of the entire Life is Strange series, but with added feels. Rachel is understandably upset by the thought that there’s a reality where she and Max never met because she was murdered and also by the realization that Max and Chloe totally got together in the aftermath of that trauma. Chloe seems to process everything much more efficiently, which I guess makes sense given the fact that she’s the focal point of all Max’s positive feelings. It’s honestly amazing how much better adjusted this Chloe is than any of the other ones we’ve seen; as soon as she groks that Max left a different Chloe behind, she’s down with the idea that Max needs to try to leave. This Chloe’s doing okay; the other one lost everything. Max seems mostly relieved that she’s finally shared this massive secret she’s been sitting on for two years, and Tristan would just like to get away from all the awkwardness of this very complicated living situation. Given his powers, this is so on brand for Tristan it hurts.
Because the first half of the book is a massive feelings and data dump, the second half packs in a fair bit of set up for this story arc. Rachel flirts with Dex, the High Seas’ keyboardist (who maybe is signalling that he’s trans or just that he needed a cooler name for his musician persona) and it comes out that the band is touring the East Coast next, with their first stop being an arts festival that is also where Rachel will be going for her acting gig. Chloe announces that she’s going to travel with Rachel, and we can all see that this is rapidly going to turn either into a road trip story or the majority of the cast is getting sidelined so that we can focus more on Max and Tristan’s misadventures with superpowers. I obviously am hoping very much for the former, which is almost a guarantee that it will be the latter.
- The background designs on the cover are Tristan’s shirt design and the spiral icon that Max presumably drew on the note board in the kitchen (itself a callback to the original game’s rewind visuals).
- Max recognizing the sculpture as a representation of the Arcadia Bay storm continues to tease that there’s something weird going on with Chloe, who we’ll remember has been getting unwitting flashes of things from Max’s other reality.
- Tristan apparently thinks he could use his powers to step through dimensions, which, yeah, okay.
- Rachel is deep in her feelings, and I want that explored so much more.
- Just give me a High Seas spinoff already. The more I see of this band, the more I want stories centered on them.