By Graeme Manson, John Fawcett, Jody Houser, Szymon Kudranski & Matt Lopes w/ Nick Runge
Orphan Black is one of the best ongoing shows on television and if you’re missing out on BBC America’s series, then you really are missing out on something special. Those who have seen it like this reviewer highly praise Tatiana Maslany’s stunning acting, as she is able to switch between multiple personalities and fully developed characters with ease, to the point where you almost think that it’s a different actress in the role. She’s that good, and it helps that the plotting, pace, tension and character development is kept at high levels. However, there’s a problem. Orphan Black isn’t on television at the moment. In fact, Season 3 doesn’t begin until next March, and the wait still feels like forever, which is why that it’s so great to see that the Clone Club now have their monthly ongoing series give fans consistently new material.
There were a lot of different paths that Orphan Black #1 could explore. Would the creative team, the three writers of Graeme Manson, John Fawcett and Jody Houser, along with the pencilled Szymon Kudranski and the colourist Matt Lopes, focus on already established characters or decide to the invention of another clone, and follow her adventures? How closely would they stick to the source material? Would it be canon or not? Whilst it is too early to tell, it seems that at least for now, the creators are going down the route of expanding on scenes from the episodes, telling the same story again, but adding new perspective, for example, like flashbacks to Sarah’s youth and what Helena was up to in the pilot. It’s a bit of a nostalgic trip for fans of the characters, who get to revisit what life was like for them back before Sarah even knew that she was a Clone. However, there’s a slight problem with this approach, and this means that it almost feels like a ‘been there, done that’, with not as much new material that this reviewer would have liked. However, by achieving this method, it does feel like this actually becomes more accessible to newcomers who haven’t seen the TV series, offering a good entry point into the world from the show here.
The artwork by Szymon Kudranski is good, for the most part. The characters look like the characters from the show which is the bare minimum required from a TV adaption, and there are several interesting panels that are really well done. Matt Lopes’ colours further enhance the excellent mood that the comic creates, and it feels distinctively part of the Orphan Black world, with all the right visuals being there. It’s going to be interesting to see what characters Kudranski can bring to life going forward, as we haven’t yet seen all of them as one would no doubt be aware of if you’ve seen the pilot episode already. However, Kudranski’s visuals aren’t perfect though, and that largely lies with the character’s faces, which, although recognisable, aren’t really given enough depth to stand out aside from in a few panels, which is probably the book’s biggest problem. Something that’s also worth pointing out just how good Nick Runge’s cover art is of the first issue, and although it’s not the main one, it’s really worth checking out as it simply looks incredible, with a real, Star Wars-esque feel to it.
So whilst Orphan Black #1 may not quite hit all the high marks of the TV show, it remains a fairly strong entry point for new readers (although, just as word of advice, stop what you’re doing and go and watch the show now if you haven’t already, you’re really missing out on something incredible) and the potential is still there for more fascinating stories to come. New readers and returning fans of the show should find plenty to enjoy here.