By Dustin Cabeal
Replicator wears its influences on its sleeve. It’s sci-fi that’s not unfamiliar in that a plague has swept the planet forcing everyone that’s disease free to wall themselves up and everyone that’s sick or poor to fend for themselves on the outside. It’s a class based system, but there’s not much acknowledgment of that in the story. It is a device that makes it easy to point out that the rich people are bad guys, the poor are the victims, and the middle class is where the story takes place.
There are several parts of Replicator, and all of them are disconnected a bit too much from each other. The opening is the start of the ending, and we’re not given enough time to begin to understand what’s happening or form an opinion on if we care or not. After that, the Red Death is explained and with that the walls and all that. We then meet the main character Ryker; his job is a border cop. It’s a weird job in which his main duty is to keep drugs out of the walls, but also appear as if he cares about the people outside of the wall. It’s well explained but seems to have very little to do with the story. They probably could have just said he was a cop on both sides of the wall and called it a day, but then there are the cyborg security bots that act as judge, jury, and executioner… making you wonder why the hell they have cops in the first place.
There’s a sequence involving a woman and a man that seem to be super charged. Their names aren’t given, and we’re not told what it has to do with the story. It’s not a bad sequence; it just doesn’t make a lick of sense with the other two scenes we’ve read prior. The good thing about it is that the characters involved are likable and make it entertaining. It’s a good bit of writing and art, but again, I was completely lost as to why I was reading it in the middle of the story about Ryker.
The final sequence of the issue is by far the weakest. Not to be mean, but it’s as if the creators realized they had run out of pages to work with and cut things out. There’s no flow to the action and movement. At one point Ryker tackles a man carrying his wife, and in the next panel the man is gone, and Ryker is holding his wife. It should also be noted that the man was with a kid before this and that kid disappears from the rest of the pages. Worst of all the final page is all black with just two words on it to signify that Ryker has passed out. A tip to anyone else thinking that this conveys something and is worth printing an entire page for, it is not. It’s a complete waste, and the point was already made on the previous page. No one wants to look at a blank page in a comic. It feels like a rip off no matter who is doing it. Leave the reader with emotion from the previous scene rather than a void. It’s the sad reason, so many monthly comics end on cliffhangers, it at least makes the reader want to come back for more.
The writing is weaker than the art. Ryker is given very little to say, and his narration doesn’t exude his personality in the least bit. It’s just narration to give us a bunch of details that frankly, at this point in the story, don’t feel necessary or useful to know. When there is dialogue, it’s not very natural and never establishes a flow. A head scratching moment was Ryker’s partner snapping at him hardcore when none of that emotion was established previously. It makes the heel turn from the partner a bit obvious when previously he came across as a concerned friend rather than aggressor.
The art is solid up until the final act of the story. Then it tends to get rushed looking. The scene with the friend looks like an afterthought since it’s void of background details and is the only sequence like that. What’s strange is the panel layouts get a lot tighter in the third act. The opening has so many wasted panels and pages in an attempt to show how futuristic the world is supposed to be. It, unfortunately, doesn’t look very futuristic and instead looks like a budget sci-fi TV show.
I would likely read more of Replicator if only to understand what’s happening in the story and to see just how similar it is to other properties. Several things come to mind, and it’s not to say that Replicator borrows from them, just that it’s playing in a shallow pool that generates a lot of the same ideas and plotlines. The issue that keeps Replicator from being great is that it just doesn’t have a lot of personality in this first issue. It has some flashes, but those flashes don’t currently make sense with the whole. If you enjoy sci-fi, it's worth checking out, but the creators have their work cut out for them if they want the second issue to hook the reader.
Writer: Robert Arnold
Artist: Armin Ozdic
Colorist: Ross A Campbell
Letterer: Jamie Me