Illustrated by Chris Wildgoose, colored by Andrew May
Three teens named Sam - Samir, Samuel, and Samantha - all stumble upon a budding alien life form in the woods on their way to school. The alien links their minds and is hungry to devour human psyches. Each of the three Sams is struggling with their own demons, especially their acceptance amongst their peers. Samuel runs a vlog that pleads with other teens not to be brainwashed by the acceptable narrative. Samir struggles with being the "perfect" Muslim and keeping his family together. Samantha is trying to get out of this small town and craves the fresh start where everyone won't know her past. And Chip, as they name the alien life form, feels their pains, their struggles, and is manipulated into carrying out their selfish agendas on friends, foes, and family.
This goes from an adventure story to a much deeper story in the span of a few pages. The struggles these three Sams go through are very real and something many students will relate to. Spurrier explores a different outcome to teens getting superpowers than what most stories do. All three of the Sams don’t use their powers to better the world or save people — they use their powers to relive painful moments and change them, or to exact revenge on the friends or family who hurt them. The Sams and their use of their power feels very authentic, and their vengeance is visceral and heartbreaking.
Wildgoose’s illustrations are authentic and slightly stylized with a few characters having comical proportions. Chip and his many evolutions is very fluid and intriguing. May’s coloring is superb — Chip actually seems to glow, and the teens using their power is mystifying and frightening simultaneously.
There is a lot of cussing and death in this story. Victims are mostly torn apart or erased, so there isn’t a lot of gore. There are some really serious themes here, such as teen pregnancy, bullying, white supremacy, and self-harm. This story would be best suited for high schoolers.
Sara's Rating: 7/10
Suitability Level: Grades 9-12
Tags: Rating: 7/10, Suitability: Middle School, Comicbooks, Grief, Action Adventure, Family, School Age
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