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Orphan Black

Orphan Black Orphan Black

Orphan Black back

John Fawcett, Graeme Manson, Jody Houser & Szymon Kudranski, Alan Quah, Cat Staggs


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

"I don't think the study..."
"No, you don't think. You leave it up to the people who actually know how. Like it or not, you're a tiny cog in a machine, the importance of which you can't even begin to comprehend."

Now, I will confess at this point, I haven't seen the titular TV show. I know our Dominique is a huge fan, as are several customers whose televisual tastes I do trust quite implicitly. So I have therefore been trying to work out exactly how this material fits in with the show. As far as I can see, it isn't new material per se, more a slightly expanded retelling of certain major characters' stories and the main plot points from, I think, the first season.

I suspect therefore this work is intended as a primer to get new people, comics fans, into watching the show, rather than a companion or continuation work like, say, the excellent SERENITY graphic novels. I do question precisely how wide an appeal this gives it, I would have personally thought brand new material aimed at people who love the show would have been a better approach.

It is, however, excellent speculative fiction penned by the creators of the show and, having read this, I am now determined to watch the show! The basic premise is that a group of scientists calling themselves Neolutionists, operating out of the Dyad Institute, undertook an illegal human cloning programme some thirty years ago which proved very successful indeed. The resultant clones, all of one woman, are being now covertly monitored by people strategically inserted into their very different lives. There is a wider next phase of the plan hinted at, hence the monitoring.

Some, however, have worked out that they are clones and begun to communicate with each other. One, a con artist called Sarah, has taken on the identity of another, a policewoman called Beth who committed suicide in front of her. There is also a cult-like religious organisation called the Proletheans who somehow know of the clones and, viewing them as aberrations, are determined to eliminate them all. That their chief assassin is one of the clones is merely a further level of intrigue.

From what I can gather, it seems like the show features a different clone week by week, with the story of recurring important characters and groups also being developed, and this comic series follows the same premise with each of the five issues being titled after a different clone. It is extremely well written and the art is competent enough, but nothing to get excited about.

The show and comics do also raise some genuinely interesting questions surrounding the moral implications of human cloning. Because let's not kid ourselves if we seriously think that various nations around the globe aren't undertaking precisely such research in direct contravention of the global treaty banning it. I think only an idiot would seriously believe the various superpowers and their militaries aren't conducting human cloning experiments on the quiet. So perhaps this isn't quite as speculative a premise as one would initially think...