I wanted to like this book. Really, I did. It has an interesting concept that only became obvious in retrospect how similar it was to the plot of the Orphan Black TV Series. Not saying they’re related in any way, but maybe Clones have become the new Vampires or Zombies: trendy afflictions that readers quickly understand and flock to. It’s a plot device that somehow hooks fans based on its presence alone. There’s usually one key book, TV show or movie that kicks off the fanfare, and if clones are the next big thing, Image Comics’ Clone won’t be the reason why.
Luke Taylor is just another attractive doctor with a super attractive pregnant wife, who wakes up one day to find his clone bleeding from a gunshot wound in his kitchen. You know, the usual kick in the face of reality these protagonists end up having. So begins the story, before Luke finds out that a third clone (who shot the bleeding clone in his kitchen) is about to kill his wife at her sonogram appointment. A chase ensues and we’re off to a running start in this series. The pacing is decent, despite some obvious missteps in the plot (e.g. Luke’s wife somehow doesn’t notice the bloody mess in the kitchen on her way out the door?) and there are enough twists to keep readers guessing throughout.
That being said, a lot of the reveals are really not that surprising, but you wouldn’t guess that by the looks of complete shock and horror on character’s faces. They’re far too over the top, and my previous statement that Luke is attractive is only an estimate, as the character just looks creepy to me. I’m sure there is an audience for the style of art used in Clone, but I am not among them. It’s responsible for pulling me out of the story almost every other page. The line work is excessive; older characters look like movie monsters, their faces riddled with so many wrinkles that they look horrifying. Younger folk are no better off, suffering from perpetually squinty eyes and puckered faces. On top of that, almost every panel with a full body shot of Luke or his clones looks like a beefcake pinup calendar: chests jutting forward, asses back and limbs at awkward, model-pose angles. This is particularly noticeable when Luke meets a large group of his clones— it looks like a portrait of a gay porn set before the festivities kick off. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with homoeroticism, and I’m a huge fan of beefcake and cheesecake art. However, unless you’re writing a comic about it, or it’s an integral part of the story, those poses are incredibly unnatural and distracting to readers. Especially with a story set in the everyday world, even if your characters are doing remarkable things, they should look natural while they do them. I feel like the artist was attempting to mimic Frank Quitely’s style, with none of the subtlety or inherent knowledge of how people carry their bodies.
Overall, if the art doesn’t unnerve you, it’s a decent enough read that sets up the next chapter in the series well. Personally I’ll stick to Orphan Black, which is honestly only marginally more interesting so far, but is at least a delight to watch, visually.