Chico Comics Review: Lifeformed Cleo Makes Contacts
Written by: Matt Mair Lowery
Art by: Cassie Anderson
Editors: Aaron Walker and Rachel Roberts
Consulting Editor: Dave Marshall
Designer: Ethan Kimberling
Digital Art Technician: Melissa Martin
President and Publisher: Mike Richardson
Published by: Dark Horse Books
Reviewed by: James Kniseley
Lifeformed is a fun ride with a familiar story. Unfortunately, several big flaws prevent it from living up to its full potential.
Let’s start with the best part, and that is the art. Lifeformed is marvelously drawn. The characters are very expressive and communicate their feelings at a glance. It is warm and inviting in its coloring and character proportions. The backgrounds and environments are incredibly detailed and give the reader a great sense of the world. Despite other issues I have with the comic, the art by itself is a solid ten.
The characters have great relationships. Cleo and her Dad and “Dad” (You’ll see what I’m mean when you read it) are wonderfully developed and have great character moments. Their relationship is the crux of the story, and it stands on its own. I would have liked more time spent on their relationships, however, because this leads to my next point.
The plot moved incredibly fast. Too fast. The character beats don’t work as they are intended. There are missing chunks of internal character development. Cleo falls victim to this. She quickly gains a new character trait to justify a particular action that is needed to advance the plot, but you don’t believe it. There needed to be more time devoted to getting the characters from point A and B. There needed to be more interaction with outside characters. There are several characters that are brought in for a page or 2 and then abandoned. These characters could have been used to advance Cleo’s character, but they are all throw away.
Another fault of the characters is some of their actions are not justified. Early on, a significant event happens to Cleo and she doesn’t react at all too. She is suddenly thrown into a massive invasion and tragic circumstances, but she acts like it’s normal and doesn’t go on any emotional journey to work through it. The story glosses over major points for character development to get to the next part of the story.
Speaking of the story, there isn’t one. There isn’t a driving force. Cleo and her “Dad” are just wandering around aimlessly. There is no objective. Other stories that are similar have an end goal. In The Last of Us Joel and Ellie are going on a trek across the country. In The Walking Dead they are trying to find a safe location to exist. This does not have it, and that hurts because you never feel like you are making progress with the story. Cleo and her “Dad” enter a survivor conclave and spend 3-4 pages there before just up and leaving for no reason.
There is a subplot involving the Alien invaders that makes no sense. Every so often the POV shifts to the aliens. It’s not clear who these characters are what they are doing. I ended up glossing over these scenes because they are just boring. They don’t seem to connect to the main conflict at all, and the dialogue is boring. Some of the early ones make it seem like Cleo is an alien, but as far as I can tell, she isn’t.
The Invasion is rather unbelievable. The reader is never shown what the aliens can do. As soon as the invasion begins, the world suddenly becomes abandoned and devastated. This happens over the course of a couple of pages. There is no justification for this. Are people being killed? Are they being kidnapped? Why is the world suddenly bare? This real hurt the piece because it shows how quickly an interesting idea can turn sour.You never feel afraid for the characters because all the danger is told rather than shown.
Speaking of the invasion, Cleo meets an alien rebel, but it’s never explained, to the best of my knowledge, why he is a rebel or what his mission is. Given that he has a lot of screen time, this is important. If I don’t have a motivation for a character, it limits how invested I can be in them.
Should you buy
Overall, the story is a fun read. But it leaves out several key character moments to push a plot that doesn’t exist forward. There is no natural progression for characters because they don’t fully open up. You always feel like there is a large portion of the characters that the writer is keeping away from you the reader. If this is a series that continues, the story needs an objective. The story needs the characters to have emotional moments, and the story needs to slow down and introduce other characters to the cast. Nevertheless, it is worth a read, and I am looking forward to how this series is continues should it be.
As it stands, I give this a 7/10
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