Review by C.J. Bunce

Your next exploration of a supernatural school and visit to a town full of secrets is here.

Life is Strange: Welcome to Blackwell Academy is an in-universe book by video game tie-in author Matt Forbeck.  Based on the Life is Strange adventure game franchise from Dontnod Entertainment and Square Enix, it’s a hardcover flip book, taking the form of a student guide to Blackwell Academy from one direction and a welcome guide to the town of Arcadia Bay when viewed from the other side.  The book is presented as Max’s personal used copy, and it’s overlaid with handwritten notes, doodles, and sketches from both Max Caulfield and Chloe Price, the focal characters of Life is Strange and Life is Strange 2.  (The original Life is Strange game is available here at Amazon, a prequel Life is Strange: Before the Storm is available here, and the first episode of Life is Strange 2 was just released and is available now here).

Blackwell Academy is a private senior high school located in Arcadia Bay, Oregon. The school, which has the feel of the Miss Quill’s classroom in BBC’s short-lived series Class, specializes in the Sciences and Arts, but there’s more to the school than meets the eye.  An X-File type of occurrence happened there back in 2013, changing the course of the town forever.  Based in a town that could be Bodega Bay in Hitchcock’s The Birds or Antonio Bay in Carpenter’s The Fog, Arcadia Bay could be this dimension’s parallel timeline version (think The Butterfly Effect and Donnie Darko) of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks or a sister city to Stephen King’s seaside Haven.

   

Coming next Wednesday is the first issue of a Life is Strange four-part comic book series.  Creators Emma Vieceli, Claudia Leonardi, and Andrea Izzo provide an up-close and personal look at the relationship between Max and Chloe, and their friends in Seattle, a year after an event in Arcadia Bay allowed Max to save Chloe.  Both Max and Chloe realize something is wrong.  Can one or both of them be unstuck in time again?  Take a look at our preview of Issue #1 below, courtesy of Titan Comics.

As in-universe books go, Life is Strange: Welcome to Blackwell Academy belongs at the top.  If you’re uncertain about the video game series, the book is sure to make you want to check it out.  The town as revealed in the book is equal parts creepy and enticing.  It’s infused with a blend of the great visual elements of the Pacific Northwest–the ocean, the mountains, the lighthouses, fishing, wood mills, and the next-generation attitude that continues that grunge movement world view that began in Seattle in the 1990s.  The X-Files and Twin Peaks vibe permeates the descriptions, mock advertisements, and character Polaroid photographs.  The book has all the features of a real-world prop from the game.

Here is the preview of the comic book and variant covers from Claudia Leonardi, Manda Schank, and art from the game:

Life is Strange: Welcome to Blackwell Academy, published by Titan Books is available now here at Amazon.  Add Life is Strange, Issue #1, from Titan Comics to your pull list at your local comic book shop.  Look for it in-stores Wednesday, November 21, 2018.  If you miss it, you can pre-order the compilation series as a trade paperback here at Amazon, coming next year.  Both are great jumping-on points for the video game series.

 

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