In Review: Replica #1

A fantastic premiere issue that is fun to read and gorgeous to look at.

The covers: A trio of covers for this opening installment from AfterShock Comics. The Main cover is by Andy Clarke and Marcelo Maiolo. This frontpiece is what got my attention when I was scanning the shelves. It features a lot of weird aliens looking at a frustrated human who’s holding his head. The creatures are all holding or wearing items that state that this individual is “Number 1.” Initially, I thought that they were doing so because this was the first issue of this title — I couldn’t have been more incorrect. The artwork by Clarke is fantastic, with the aliens (I’m a sucker for a well drawn alien) and others looking fantastic, and the coloring by Maiolo excellent. The colors, with the neon pinks and lime greens caught my eye before I saw the details in the art. This is why I picked up the book and it’s even better looking on the inside. The Variant cover by Andrew Robinson is very much in the mode of Blade Runner: Detective Carter, holding a cup of joe, is leaning against his car, while partner Vorgas is on the passenger side sporting a large rifle, all before the panorama of a city street of Transfer. Nicely done, but the coloring is eating away at the details of the art. It definitely captures a noir flavor, but things are hard to see. The Phil Hester variant is pretty funny, with Carter riding on Vorgas’ back, pointing in the direction they should run, since they’re being followed by a mob of people sporting giant sign with hearts on them. Some fans just can’t take a hint. Great illustration with good coloring, with the choice of a frosty teal to highlight the two men. Overall grades: Main A, Variant Robinson B, and Variant Hester A-

The story: A Grn’#x*ian acolyte is scuttling atop a corridor by using its insect-like hands to grasp some pipes. Speeding behind the alien is human Detective Trevor Carter. He’s yelling into his phone that he sees the Grinnex and that his men have to lead it to extraction point seven. Sadly, the two officers he’s contacting, Shudd and Veet-Bot, aren’t the smartest, and the alien easily gets past them. Carter reminds his men not to shoot the acolyte, they have to take it unharmed. The creature makes its way past Sub-Lietuenant Weezik, who reports on its movement. Finally meeting with his men, Carter notices that Vorgas is missing. That’s when the Grn’#x*ian appears before the police and Vorgas makes his first appearance in dramatic fashion. This is a solid action introduction to protagonist Carter and his crew, as well as the setting. Writer Paul Jenkins seems as though he’s going to have this be a typical police procedural in a science fiction setting where the lone human is frustrated by working with aliens that don’t understand him. I would have been happy with that, as there isn’t a book on the market like that currently. However, Jenkins completely snookered me with what actually occurs. On Page 11 Carter gets an idea and that’s when the premise of this book begins. 15 has his the results, and I do mean results, of his idea fully shown and the premise of this series is fully revealed. This is unbelievably clever. This is writing gold, as there are now several different directions this series could take, all of which would bring a different aspect to the crime being investigated, and there is one heck of a major crime committed at this book’s close. I stand and applaud Jenkins for putting several new spins on a classic concept. Overall grade: A

The art: I love science fiction comics that have highly detailed art that whisks me away to worlds and creatures I’ve never seen. Andy Clarke does an exceptional job with the visuals. He starts out teasing the alien world by only having three “different” characters on the first page; the setting could be anywhere currently on earth. The aliens of this book are great, with outstanding creatures on Pages 1, 5, 8, 15, 18, and 20. Page 6 is a full page splash of Transfer and it throws the reader from seeing only alien looking characters to having a planet sized location immerse them into a new world. The following page has a slow and impressive progression through the monstrous setting until arriving at Carter’s place of employment. After this, every page has got some interesting little facet to look at and think about. It’s a completely believable location where every corner could hold a story. There’s some really cool technology on Page 12, which is soon followed by four panels of hilarious thoughts as Carter is sedated. The scene that will induce laughter and then a pause to take everything in is on Page 16 — I have to see more of this, it’s that simple. This book looks spectacular. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Marcelo Maiolo does the coloring on this book and his contributions are impressive. Look at the green lighting effects he does on the first page in the first five panels — the coloring creates a realistic depth to the artwork. The last panel on the page has another terrific lighting effect with the background behind the two officers looking distant and aged. My favorite work by Maiolo occurs whenever a major action sequence takes place: the main characters go white, the backgrounds a crimson, and the individual causing the problem orange. It’s incredibly stark and unbelievably dynamic. It makes the visual become the focus of the page and increases the level of excitement for the reader. It never fails to work, and I’m in love with this technique. The care with which Maiolo creates the environment, from the tint of a car’s window to the dreamy blue state of “the happy train”, this book’s colors are incredible. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Yells, pants, dialogue and narration (the same font), robotic dialogue, signage, the passage of time, sounds, and next issue’s tease come to life through Clayton Cowles. It’s mind boggling to consider how he’s able to put so much dialogue into panels without stepping onto the visuals — the sign of a professional. I’m hoping that there will be aliens encountered in future issues that have their own unique font when they speak, as there was only one this issue. Overall grade: A

The final line: A fantastic premiere issue that is fun to read and gorgeous to look at. I’ll be adding this to my pull list, to be sure! It’s the first issue, so get on now. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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