Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of different lives throughout time, caught up in an eternal cycle as they take part in a war so old that neither side remembers what they’re fighting for anymore. As Mali wakes up in her newest life, she suddenly becomes self-aware and starts to question everything, especially why she continues to fight. But elsewhere, Tessa is already on the hunt
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3 / 5
Welcome Back is a graphic novel, the first book comprising of 4 issues. I don’t often read graphic novels, but this one was a fun foray into the genre. I was entirely attracted by the plot: Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of lives and each life they have only one goal: to kill the other. Lifetime after lifetime they have fought, for so long they can’t ever remember why, only that they must. But now, Mali is having doubts.
First off, I loved the art style. I thought it looked amazing. But then, halfway through the artist either changed style or the artist changed entirely. I found this quite jarring and although the art was still good, I thought it was a downgrade, which was such a shame. Otherwise the layout was fine and it was easy to read. There’s a bunch of really awesome panels where it shows Mali and Tessa as all the people they have been before, and the fighting and action scenes are beautiful.
I did find it a little bit difficult to understand at first. Essentially, Mali and Tessa are sequels, people that reincarnate. When one kills the other, they die straight after and both are reborn. A sequel must be “woken up” in each life in order to remember who they and what their mission is, and whilst Tessa is woken up at five years old and put through intensive training, Mali becomes a young adult before she awakes. She’s at a disadvantage, however, because Tessa is already on her trail. I did find the idea really great and engaging, but it did take some time to pick up the gist in the book.
I was also interested in this because it was listed under LGBT+ categories. Mali and Tessa are both gay, but this only comes into play at the end of the book, and I found it a bit abrupt and perhaps a little forced. I would have liked a lot more development, which hopefully will happen in the next volume!
Essentially, Welcome Back is a bit convoluted and difficult to follow, but the art is beautiful and I loved the characters.
My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the artists for an ARC of this book.