David Schulner is a Hollywood writer and has scripted episodes of The Event, Desperate Housewives and recent pilot Do No Harm. He has turned his hand to writing comics when his pitch for a series about clones was turned to the comic format. This is his first attempt at comic writing and he is paired with the experienced Spanish artist Juan Jose Ryp. Juan has drawn a variety of work with Warren Ellis but I remember him most for his work on Wolverine: The best there is. The title was not great but the art was certainly memorable, especially how he draws blood splattering! This book is based around a regular guy called Luke married to an expecting wife, who follows a trail of blood into his kitchen. He finds a man shot and dying who has the same face as him. While he tries to make sense of the duplicate conspiracy tale, his wife is kidnapped. The story then unfolds to a governmental secret operation of a cloning war and all Luke wants is to get his wife and unborn child back.
The narrative is solid and this issue has a delicate balance of plot reveals, action and suspense. The dialogue is simple and effective because only snippets of information are revealed at a time and the tone is full of tension. The addition of a government based side plot may prove tricky, as the thriller tone to the main plot may not benefit with a legislative prose. Certainly these aspects of the book come across dull compared to the exciting Luke clones pages. There is an excellent scene where he meets a one of his clones and the dialogue presents an air of insignificance to who they actually are, where one person begins and the other ends. They are the same and who they were has become obsolete. The artwork is great and Ryp draws thoroughly detailed characters. The vice-president looks like Tommy Lee Jones and captures the drawn out stonewall expression. Ryp ensures the clones are wearing different clothes otherwise they would be impossible to distinguish. His art style incorporates pointillism where small dots form the shading of characters and add to the facial detailing and expressions.
The pertinent themes of the book appear to be two fold. Firstly there is the idea of whether an individual exists as a clone; it is the classic nature or nurture argument. The clone discussion mentioned above features Luke convincing Serge he is not like everyone else. Everyone believes they are a unique person, but the trauma of watching himself beating his wife, makes the clone accept he has become one and the same as all Serges. Identity is key and when that disappears, we lose who we are and where we go next. The second theme of the book revolves around the legalising of cloning and the government conspiracy. The vice president is torn between party/religious ethics and the chronic disease inflicting his daughter. The two themes will interlink as we move through the issues, but they do not necessarily complement each other as they are at the moment. It can potentially lead to weaving plotlines of immense importance to the man on the street and the country at large. I am certain Ryp’s pencilling will continue to be imaginative and exciting, hopefully the story will follow suit.
“They are all me. I am not them” 8/10