Story: Paul Jenkins
Art: Andy Clarke
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Release Date: 12/2/2015
Replica is a new series from indie publisher Aftershock Comics. With any new series, the creative team is tasked with building a world for their characters and making it interesting enough for readers to stick with the story. Replica #1 takes a stab at fulfilling those obligations. Right away we are introduced to the story’s main character, Trevor Churchill. Churchill is a detective for Firstwave, a peacekeeping force for an intergalactic habitat called “The Transfer”. He and his team, composed of various races of aliens and robots, are attempting to apprehend a suspect. This part of the story doesn’t seem intended to add to the story, but serves more as a way to introduce the main character and his supporting cast.
After things don’t go as planned, We find Trevor back in his precinct attempting to absolve himself of wrongdoing on the last mission. These scenes do not do much to move the story along, but you do get a sense of how densely populated The Transfer is, and how difficult of a job the Firstwave team has. As Trevor heads back out on patrol with his partner, he decides the job is too big for one person, and wishes there were two of him to handle things. Quite conveniently, just as he is having this thought, (sigh) he passes a billboard for a company that offers clone creation. Trevor decides to have himself cloned so he has someone to do his paperwork. His partner cautions him that something can go wrong, and guess what? Something goes wrong. The story jumps ahead 4 months, and we find Detective Churchill has a new team, and is working security for the Firstwave peacekeepers. Unfortunately, this mission doesn’t go well either, and the issue ends with a mild cliffhanger.
I imagine it can be tough creating new characters and fleshing out the world they live in. You have to grab readers early on for them to stay engaged with your story. Having said that, everything doesn’t need to be accomplished in the first issue. Writer Paul Jenkins provides readers with tidbits of information about the main character and the world he lives in, but not enough to make me care about any of it. In order for me to be interested in the main character I need to know a little about them. I don’t need their whole story in one issue, but give me SOMETHING to be interested in. We learn virtually nothing about the main character in this outing, other than he works for a peacekeeping force and he feels he’s overworked. During the issue there is a scene where Trevor’s commander tells him he is the only human on the force because of his unique genetic makeup. I think exploring points like that would have served the story better over the long, drawn out mission presented in the opening pages of the issue. Trevor’s decision to clone himself feels rushed and disconnected from the issues with his partner he highlights during the issue. Also, I found pulling up next to a cloning clinic billboard just as you’ve figured out you have too much work for one person cheap storytelling. I know there is only so much you can squeeze into a 20 page comic, but I think structuring this issue differently would have helped it immensely. Everything that happens after Trevor visits the cloning clinic feels like it should have been in the next issue. If the issue would have ended with a reveal of what happened at the clinic, it would have saved pages in the issue to further explore some of the things previously mentioned.
I can’t really say much about Andy Clarke’s art in this issue. It wasn’t bad…It also wasn’t good. One point that I could not get over was Replica’s main character’s striking resemblance to DC’s Constantine character. Trevor Churchill is basically Constantine with purple and green hair. Had the character been smoking throughout the issue, I would have been convinced this was some weird alternate universe mashup with DC to be revealed in a later issue. Another downfall for me was that it didn’t feel like a lot of effort was put in to the designs of the alien species that surrounded the main character. You can play by your own rules when creating an alien species, and it felt like Clarke played it safe with his alien designs rather than creating something unique and special.
FINAL VERDICT: Replica #1 has the feel of a comic with a lot of potential that just stumbled out of the gate.. Star Wars and Saga would be good comparisons to the type of world that Replica #1 wants to create, but it didn’t take the time in this issue to lay the groundwork needed. It’s only the first issue, and it was only 20 pages, so there is definitely an opportunity to right the ship. But if the storytelling and art approach do not change, I don’t see a bright future for this comic. To sum things up, I would ask the creative team why I should read this book over a Star Wars or Saga. Whatever their answer may be is what I believe can make this story a success.