"recovery." But Loma begins to sense that no one is all that relieved "Megan" is back. They react with panic, discomfort, and resignation. Then "Megan" announces she'll be going by the title "Shade," cuts her hair, and starts wearing exclusively psychedelic animal-esque prints and talking about her home world. At that point everyone's just confused and figures there was some serious brain trauma.
It's a fantastic set up: an existential poet alien awareness replacing a nightmare of a girl and navigating Earth in her skin, all while fighting off "The Madness," which is alluded to have killed RAC Shade. (Not to mention dealing with the last vestiges of Megan's own soul; she's hardcore evil, guys.) Meanwhile, you get snippets of what's happening back on Meta, preparing for what will obviously be a major conflict later in the story (but I shan't say more.)
Visually, this. is. BEAUTIFUL. When I say this, what I mean is that every single page is a masterpiece. You could close your eyes and flip through, and wherever you landed, you could blow it up and frame it on your wall and it would look magnificent. The art style has this surreal, psychedelic tone to it, and it often puts you in a place where you are unsure whether the characters can see what you're seeing--you don't know what's real. It's astonishingly well executed, as it creates this tone of uncertainty. The real world isn't a sure thing. For you, or the characters.
Each panel reads like a strange, free verse poem. Loma's existential and eloquent and living up some of the most vivid experiences of her life; but those around her are learning to cope with the atrocities that Megan committed (this girl was a grade A bully. She was not good news.) Watching the dynamic, and watching Loma try to sort out these problems that she didn't create--it's not frustrating, but rather rewarding. She wants to make right because those around her didn't deserve what they got.
The writing is strong, the plot is strong, the characters (and their names--Teacup? Hello yes) are strong; but what this does so astonishingly well is tell its story simultaneously through imagery and words. And yeah, all graphic novels should do that--but this is on another level. It's not just worlds that the art creates, and it's not just a point of view. It's a state of mind.
It's philosophical, it's poetic, it's aesthetically stunning, and it transports you to a whole new mindspace. 5 stars.