The Replacer (Aftershock Comics)
What happens when you mix IT, Stranger Things, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and a pinch of The Exorcist? You get something along the lines of The Replacer, a new original graphic novel from Zac Thompson and Arjuna Susini. A moody, atmospheric story, The Replacer is one of the creepiest reads of the year, and shows that Aftershock Comics has what it takes to move beyond the standard monthly comic format.
After Marcus’ father has a stroke, he starts to notice strange things around him. For starters, his father seems unusually strong, despite the fact that he can’t move one side of his body. He’s also making some pretty startling improvements in his health, but not quite the leaps and bounds that doctors expect him to. Oh, and he’s also got a multi-limbed yellow demon following him around at all times that only Marcus can see. Marcus believes that this demon is possessing his father, but can’t convince his family that what he’s seeing is real. With his options running out, it’s only a matter of time until Marcus does something drastic to save his father. Maybe even too drastic.
Unlike a lot of horror comics, The Replacer trades gore and violence for atmosphere and dread. Much of that comes from Zac Thompson’s script, which does a great job of not only setting the stakes pretty early on, but also makes sure that those stakes build up at an even pace. Many graphic novels either take their time telling the story or rush things towards the end, but Thompson’s script avoids both of those pitfalls to create a compelling and engaging story throughout. The idea of the Replacer as a demon is pretty interesting, and the surprise ending practically begs you to reread it once you finish.
Adding to the atmosphere of The Replacer is Arjuna Susini’s art, which does a fantastic job of building on the foundation of dread that Thompson builds. An interesting mix of Gabriel Rodriguez and Greg Capullo, Susini’s art is able to balance expressive facials with dark horror, something that is obviously a must for this kind of book. Should Replacer prove to be a success, expect to see a lot more of Susini’s art to grace the pages of many comic racks.
At 64 pages, The Replacer is definitely a hefty purchase for comic fans. But if you’re looking for a solid creepy comic, there’s really no better option. While it’s not a monthly series, the fact that this is a true “one and done” story is not only rare in comics, it’s refreshing too. If this is the future of Aftershock comics, then it’s a bright one indeed.