Clone #2 (Image): I think it’s safe to say that I love everything about this book. I love the dark mirror reflection of the credits page. I love how the opening sequence, and the times we revisit that segment of the story, offer clues to the larger conspiracy surrounding a DARPA stem cell experiment from the 1970’s. I love the way Juan Jose Ryp’s art is so detailed and intricate that it provides a grizzled sense of life and animation on every page. I love the chilling black and white scene with implantations happening in assembly line fashion. I love small little flourishes like the implied “SCREECH” of the record scratch that stops a conversation dead in its tracks. I love how David Schulner’s script explores the effect of time, specifically how the global connectivity of social networking unraveled the greatest experiment in human history. I love how his story never forgets to be a human drama first, but is rooted in a realistic bit of sci-fi. I love the idea of loss of identity and the psychological impact this would all have, specifically the example of having to watch yourself kill your wife as you are trying to kill you. I love that we’re offered two possible explanations for what may make our protagonist so special, the pacing of the story and the interest of the reveals it contains are all deftly handled. There are fair twists and turns here, and I just love the fun entertainment this offers, the thought provocation, and the gorgeous art. It makes the act of creating fun, smart, beautiful comics look effortless. Grade A.
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Change #1 (Image): I was pleasantly intrigued by the art, including the first couple of black and white pages that seem to merge the styles of Frank Miller, David Mack, and even hints of Howard Chaykin. It switches to color from there for squarely story-driven reasons, which I appreciated. At times, the color art gets very inky and drippy in a way that even reminded me of Paul Pope, which is high praise indeed. As intriguing as the art is, unfortunately, this book degenerated quickly for me because of the schizophrenic story that feels like it can’t decide what it wants to be about. This meandering all over the map touches on screenwriters and a movie treatment stuck in development hell (though I’m not sure why), which may have something to do with Lovecraftian Cthulhu babies being murdered(?), a manned mission to one of Jupiter’s moons returning home (though they never explain if this is the future or how a human would survive such prolonged space travel), some chick with gray diamond shit on her face, annoyingly named characters like "W-2," "Rhubarb," and "Labia," which were not nearly as clever as someone must have thought they were, and contrived highly improbable lines such as “You must look like two sphinx cats trying to form a sex donut. With decorative baroque folds.” I think the creators were going for some type of ape of insider commentary mixed with big wacky ideas like you’d see from a writer like Joe Casey, but they get lost in this circular space time thing mired in pervasive paranoia about drones, “the other,” and a sense of an impending space time apocalypse. I want to reiterate that the art is very pretty in spots, but with no proper credits I couldn’t tell you who is responsible for what. It’s just a long string of disparate players and locales. I appreciate not assaulting your audience with exposition, but without any foothold it’s definitely possible to cross the line into being obtuse and not really telling a story. That’s not fun. That doesn’t give me a reason to return. Can’t tell who is talking in some caption boxes… Musical bonus stuff I didn’t get… Astronauts and home invasions… Grade B-.