Lifeformed: Volume 2 – Hearts and Minds from Dark Horse Books is exactly what fans of the first volume needed. Writer Matt Mair Lowery and artist Cassie Anderson are back together for the second volume in this sci-fi adventure series, releasing September 4, as they dive deeper into the world surrounding Cleo and her shapeshifting alien friend, who also happens to look like her dad.
If you haven’t read the first volume, Lifeformed: Cleo Makes Contact, you can read my review first before moving forward or find it online for purchase. Lifeformed: Volume 2 – Hearts and Minds is a story that stands on its own, but I highly recommend getting as much Cleo in your life as possible.
Lowery further examines the struggles that both Cleo and her new guardian, Alex, undergo as they continue to fight the invaders of their home. After Cleo’s father was killed during the invasion, an alien took his appearance and kept watch over her. In the second volume, the dynamics between the two main characters expand much like a father-daughter relationship. Cleo pushes her boundaries, especially when it comes to her safety, while her alien friend begins experiencing memories from Cleo’s past with her real father.
Lowery is able to continue the fun dialogue between these two characters, while also exploring how trauma affects those who’ve been impacted by the events following the invasion. Lifeformed: Hearts and Minds highlights to fans and new readers why Cleo is such a wonderful character, as she continues to display amazing courage and a perfectly snarky attitude, while also showing off a huge capacity to learn.
All of these great characteristics come through in the amazing artwork by Anderson. Cleo shines with fantastic facial expressions, whether being bewildered after an overprotective comment from Alex, showing happy feet when listening to music, or the subtlety that comes across when facing uncertainty in her life. Lifeformed: Volume 2 is also filled with vibrant colors, whether it’s from Cleo’s outfits, alien vessels in the sky, or flashbacks that give us an even greater sense of life before the invasion. These pops of color work perfectly against natural backdrops and semi-monotone flashbacks.
Lowery and Anderson do not disappoint with this follow-up. The layers of this story are well constructed, while the overarching story of fighting back doesn’t always overrule thoughtfulness in trying to find common ground – an astounding revelation coming from the youngest of characters. Cleo’s mindfulness is truly magnificent to watch, proving that age doesn’t limit one’s ability to be generous, kind, or a go-getter. She also knows how to take care of herself in dangerous situations. In short, Cleo is perfection.
Cleo and her new dad are continuing to grow their relationship, being completely aware of the odd dynamics of Alex resembling her father, while also remembering his past life. The awkwardness he has around Cleo is genuine and much resembles the life of a father who isn’t sure how to react to his daughter’s independence. Their chemistry is wonderful to see, while the panel design perfectly pushes the story forward, making this a cinch to read in one sitting.
Lifeformed: Cleo Makes Contact was my top pick for 2017, and its sequel, Lifeformed: Volume 2 – Hearts and Minds, is already on my list of contenders for top pick of 2019. Pick this story up!
Creative Team: Matt Mair Lowery (writer), Cassie Anderson (artist and letterer)
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Available in digital and print formats.