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"The Replacer" Graphic Novel Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by AfterShock Comics

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Written by Zac Thompson
Illustrated by Arjuna Susini
Colored by Dee Cunniffe
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
2019, 64 Pages
Graphic novel released on April 24th, 2019

Review:

Everyone deals with grief differently. You could go through the stages of acceptance, coming to terms with the loss or heartbreak. When his father suffers a debilitating stroke, Marcus has trouble dealing with this. He's convinced his father has been replaced by a demon. It would be easy to dismiss this as an overactive imagination...but what if he's right?

Marcus is desperate to find proof of this and convince his family of what he believes is the truth. You can imagine how this looks from the outside. He's acting out and getting increasingly erratic. At times, it's painful to watch him go through this as you feel for everyone involved.

Even if the demon is not real, we see what Marcus sees. Artist Arjuna Susini has created an absolute monster in The Replacer. Everything about this creature is unnatural. It has this big head, shaped kind of like an ice cream cone, covered in eyes. Its massive limbs are covered in smaller arms and legs. You don't see it frequently, but when you do it makes an impression. It also shows up out of nowhere. This is the equivalent of a jump scare in a horror movie.

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Click images to enlarge

Although this monster doesn't have a mouth, it does speak. Letterer Marshall Dillon uses haunting black word balloons that appear almost like echoes of what Marcus' father is saying. This gives the impression that the demon is pulling his strings and putting words in his mouth.

While this creature is nothing short of terrifying, some of the normal, human scenes are even scarier. When the stroke first hits Marcus' dad, Susini captures the complete and total fear coursing through the boy. His father is flopping around on the floor, making strange noises and even stranger facial expressions and he's absolutely powerless to do anything about it. Tears stream down his face as he struggles to understand what's happening.

The family's home life is dramatically changed when the patriarch comes back from the hospital. This is where more unsettling horror lies as Marcus' father has this cold, dead stare. He's a shell of the man he once was.

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Click images to enlarge

Throughout the entire story, you have to wonder whether or not the demon is real. There is evidence supporting both sides of this, so you're able to draw your own conclusion. Both are equally frightening. It helps that colorist Dee Cunniffe plays with the shadows throughout the book, giving an equally unsettling quality to both the demonic scenes and the regular home scenes. It makes it so you're never quite at ease while reading this graphic novel.

The Replacer will break your heart. It's a comic that everyone can relate to, even if you haven't experienced something like this. Writer Zac Thompson frames a family tragedy through the eyes of a young boy. There's a deep, personal feel to this story. While you might guess as to whether or not the demon exists, part of you will pray that it's real so that there's some semblance of hope that Marcus' father can come out of this. Sometimes real life is scarier than the supernatural.

Grades:

Story: Fivestars Replacer Small
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Replacer Small
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Art: Fivestars
Overall: Fivestars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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