rideaspacecowboy's Replica #1 - By the Book review

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This may just be my megalomaniacal egotistic narcissism talking, but I often feel there ought to be more of me in the world. Not merely more people like me, but more copies of myself exactly. Friends are all well and good; hell, it felt like half of Hub City came celebrate my recent birthday*. But still, with few exceptions, friends seem to fall into one of two categories: 1) those acquaintances who slowly but surely drift apart, relegated to updates in my Facebook feed till the day they post a baby picture and get unfollowed forever, or 2) veritable brothers who take a page out of Doom and Magneto, embracing evil and enmity. The latest was a master-manipulator one level below Kilgrave who straight up monologued about joining the dark side. Such is my life.

Of course, comradery is hardly the only reason to replicate myself. Those of you who’ve followed this site know that, like Wolverine, I’m the best at what I do. I offer insightful analysis into the latest comics like no one else on the internet in a prose-style the envy of poet laureates. Were there more of me to do the requisite reading and reviewing, this site could prove fam more prolific in its content.

Detective Trevor Churchill, the protagonist of Paul Jenkins' new series Replica, is a man after my own heart. He speaks his mind with the frankness and confidence of a man who’s the best in his field, or at the very least leagues better than his co-workers and superiors. Though in his case, such isn’t particularly difficult. Much of Jenkins’ comedic prowess is displayed in the idiocy of Churchill’s alien associates. Perhaps the best scene in this debut issue is when Churchill’s partner Vorgas, having just been reprimanded by the detective for breaking protocol by assassinating a perpetrator with diplomatic immunity instead of apprehending him unharmed, apologizes for the oversight, only to obliviously point his weapon at the decapitated corpse and shout, “Stop, or I fire!”

The obvious solution (at least within the fiction of Replica) is for Churchill to clone himself, initially only a single copy to help only with his own workload, but within a few months’ time he’s replaced Vorgas and the rest of his unit with a squad of nearly forty or more clones. In obedience to established science-fiction tropes, the ethics of the emergent technology is called into question only to go awry immediately, implicitly inferring the “immorality” of the procedure to be the cause for the malfunction. Resulting from this, it is heavy implied that either Churchill’s initial clone or possibly even the original himself is behind a terrorist attack in the issue’s climax which prevents the passage of a historic peace treaty.

It will be interesting to see if Jenkins more fully explores the actual ethical dilemmas surrounding cloning throughout the series, or if the debate will begin and end with a fiat out of the mouth of the imbecilic Vorgas, hardly a trustworthy source for moral philosophizing. I certainly hope such not to be the case, as any condemnation of advanced technology which lacks nuance comes across as utterly luddite.

Andy Clarke’s pencil’s perfectly match Paul Jenkins’ tone of appropriating elements from police procedurals and imbuing them with a science-fiction veneer. Every alien character is a caricature of an existing trope, replete with the iconic irate black police chief (albeit purple skinned), porn-addled pervert of a dispatch officer (albeit a tool-fetished robot), and the sallow, sunken-faced lawyer (whose blue face really is sunken in). The entire issue is a bizarre parade of exotic lifeforms of a number and diversity which universes such as Mass Effect or Star Trek could only envy.

Replica tries to be as many books as Churchill has clones of himself. It’s a character-centered comedy, a police procedural, semi-serious science-fiction examining the ethics of an emerging technology, and even has elements of mystery, noir, and thriller to boot. It’s an eclectic combination, also not unlike the team of radically unique replicas Churchill assembled. So long as Jenkins executes Replica better than the Trevors their mission, the series certainly has a shot of being all those things and more.

*I’m kind of a big deal**

**Conf. the aforementioned narcissism

Replica #1 was released in print on December 2nd 2015, but not digitally until January 20th 2016, thus the delay in this review.

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