I recently caught up on about six months' worth of "Clone," and I came to one conclusion above all else: David Schulner, Aaron Ginsburg, Wade McIntyre and Juan Jose Ryp adore the big cliffhanger. If "Clone" were a television series (with an insanely high budget), at the end of each episode, there is no doubt in my mind that viewers would be going bonkers waiting a week to find out what happened next. In a big action thriller comic, that's exactly what's needed.
"Clone" #10 continues in that vein, as Luke continues to try and rescue his wife, even as he also has to finally go up against the villainous clone Beta who already massacred his parents. What's surprising when you go back and examine "Clone" #10 is how much plot advancement happens in its 22 pages. Multiple battles start and end, the lives of several characters change, and there are some huge plot developments added into the mix. Schulner, Ginsburg and McIntyre deserve a lot of credit for this; so many comics would have doled these out over the course of a year or two, and having them all come on the heels of one another is a daring but pleasing move.
More importantly, it doesn't feel rushed at all. It would be easy for this level of crazy to just hammer at the reader and make them feel overwhelmed. Every page moves smoothly from one to the next, and Schulner, Ginsburg and McIntyre handle cutting away and back to the main narrative without missing a beat. Ultimately it's that deft skill at pacing this month that pushes up the level of the comic from good to excellent. Everything felt satisfying; the way that Luke escapes from the base, the fight between Luke and Beta, the continuation of Amelia and Eric's relationship as they're on the run, even the latest twist with Gamma.
I'm also a little amazed at how ten issues in, Ryp hasn't taken a break yet. (Did someone clone him?) His heavily detailed art hasn't missed a beat, and he's gotten stronger with each issue. Characters don't feel stiff and posed any more, and there's a strong theatrical feel to his pages in the way that the characters react and shift across the page. Sanah going up against her attacker in the control room is a prime example. When she attacks the guard in the fourth panel, I love how he's reaching out towards the reader with his left hand (even as his right tries to free himself); it's an attention grabbing visual even as it feels natural. Likewise, when she's looking up at the monitor in panel six while the alarms are going off, it's excellently composed; the focus is on just the right amount of her upper body so that we get her reaction (and also her physical condition with the little trickle of blood) and the general tense nature of the scenario, while also still being able to spy the flashing red light and even squeeze in the sound effect of the alarm at the top of the panel. It's good storytelling, and Ryp's turning out some of his best pages to date.
"Clone" #10 is a fun book, and this slightly increased pace makes it even more so. With splash pages doled out for the best moments (like Luke with the army of clones behind him), I feel like all parties involved really understand how to tell a serialized comic, with multiple moments of punctuated excitement to hold onto a reader's attention. If you've fallen behind on "Clone" (like I had), now is an excellent time to catch back up.