The first comic series for Orphan Black was little more than a companion piece to the television show. While it wasn’t bad, it did not rise above the level of additional branded merchandise and revenue source. The books did manage to match the suspense, tell a well-paced story and hint at some of the details of the conspiracy not yet revealed, but nevertheless, it still felt like an afterthought.
Helsinki, the second series was much more of its own thing and actually improved on the larger story. The Scandinavian background about an unsuccessful clone trial could very well stand on its own as an independent supplement to the rest of the story. Even by the fourth season, most of the details revealed in Helsinki had only been implied in the televised episodes.
Deviations starts from the beginning and combines the best of both those other approaches. Instead of Beth committing suicide and Sarah stealing her identity, Sarah saves Beth. Sarah is then drawn into the clone club by Beth and MK finding and kidnapping her. This early introduction to MK is welcome, increasing the peril, and providing another level of mystery among the clones. We also find out about Rachel and Ferdinand’s connections to Helsinki and see them portrayed as the bad guys even before we anyone gets to the Dyad Institute.
Kennedy has accomplished a great deal in this issue by being true to the voice and mood of the original, salvaging the import pieces of the canon, yet setting up a clever alternate POV to an enduring techno-thriller. The artwork flows well and is competent, but does not add to the story. I would prefer that that take as many chances with the art as they do with the narrative.
This is an essential read for fans of the show and/or the previous books, but even if the reader is new to the secrecies of Orphan Black, this is a great entry to the clone club.