"Replicator #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Robert Arnold
Illustrated by Armin Ozdic
Colored by Ross A. Campbell
2016, 35 Pages
In the near future, an epidemic called the Red Death sweeps through England, killing millions of people. As a result, the country has been turned into a strict military state. The uninfected deemed useful to society are kept safe in a walled city while the rest of the citizens live in desperation outside, clinging to what life they can. Also, there's a futuristic mercenary battle going on for reasons that are somewhat unclear.
There looks to be two separate opposing storylines within Replicator. One is the plague angle, which is a harrowing tale that's reminiscent of 28 Days Later, but without the infected running around terrorizing people. It shows the effects that a contagion like this can have on a country surrounded by water. How it is kept only within England's borders is unknown. The other plot thread has to do with super-hero-esque soldiers engaged in impressive fights worthy of action movies, although their reasons are ambiguous.
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These battles are expertly choreographed by artist Armin Ozdic. You'd think this comic was made up of storyboards from a futuristic blockbuster movie with the way it's laid out. These are exciting and violent scenes that are unlike what you'd see in most super hero comics. Ross A. Campbell's colors add a layer of grit to these scenes. They're darker and much more grim than the rest of the book, which is saying something, as a chunk of it features people dying from a plague.
Campbell also solidifies the difference between the walled city and the rest of England. Inside the walls it's like a paradise. The sun is shining and people are playing in beautiful parks. Outside is a wasteland where it's perpetually overcast and grey. Ozdic even draws the buildings as decrepit and broken, like a bomb went off out here.
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Ozdic explains so much of the virus through the facial expressions of the infected. There is no hope in their eyes. They have all but given up. They're broken. Contrast this with the faceless masks of the soldiers tasked with keeping the city safe. They're cold and emotionless. You can't even see their eyes, so they appear robotic in nature.
Replicator began life as a Kickstarter campaign and the description there clears up some of the confusion, however that's not included in this issue. I'm sure that will come through in future installments. As it stands, the book jumps around a bit and doesn't provide enough context for these threads. On their own, each one would be a strong story, but mushed together like this makes for a frustrating read at times. It would have benefited from some inner monologues to make the connection between the two threads more clear. Replicator has great potential, especially with the art team involved.