Review – Relay #1 (AfterShock Comics)

Relay #1 (AfterShock Comics) cover B (detail) by Christian Ward
Relay #1 (AfterShock Comics) cover B (detail) by Christian Ward
Relay #1
  • Story - 7.5/10
  • Art - 8.8/10
  • Overall - 8.2/10
User Review
0 (0 votes)


Writer: Zac Thompson
Story: Zac Thompson & Donny Cates
Artist: Andy Clarke
Colorist: Dan Brown
Letterer: Charles Pritchett
Maturity Rating: Teen
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Release: July 11, 2017

Hank Donaldson has been thought dead for 300 years. The Relay wants him and the first world he brought the Relay to found. The search for a dead man and true knowledge begins in Relay #1.

Obedience is Rewarded in Relay #1

Relay #1 throws us into a future/alternate Earth where a giant monolith known as the Relay controls everything. The Relay brought knowledge and prosperity to Earth. Culture and customs are traded to join the interconnected worlds with the Relay. What comes is great wealth, knowledge and a world full of prosperity, but what is lost? The Relay has one goal, and that is to find Hank Donaldson and the original world, the “first world” the Relay was brought to. Could this man still be alive after 300 years, or is that just another fable the Relay tells its people to keep them complacent?


Relay #1 (AfterShock Comics) cover A by Andy Clarke
Relay #1 (AfterShock Comics) cover A by Andy Clarke

Well, where to start with Relay #1? I guess first you might want to jump back and pick up Relay #0. It follows Donaldson as he sets up the Relay on the fabled “first world” talked about in Relay #1. That issue, while very confusing, at least gives you an idea of what you are in for in this first issue.

Zac Thompson—with story credits to Donny Cates (does this guy do everything?)—drops us right into this futuristic Earth with the monolith known as the Relay ruling everything. We are introduced to the main character, Jad Carter, who works for the Relay as a police officer figure. They seem to keep the “peace” on Earth by stopping people from saying disparaging things about the Relay and/or depicting what Hank Donaldson might look like. The only people who know what Donaldson looks like are the people who work for the Relay. Through Jad Carter, we are introduced to this world and his main priority, which is to travel to other uncolonized planets that have not joined the Relay system and/or to find the “first world” and Hank Donaldson.

The story in Relay #1 is pretty straightforward, yet very confusing at the same time. It has a good sci-fi plot with the future Earth and the whole-world connecting Relay that brings knowledge yet takes away culture and customs. That is all interesting, but how we got there and what is going on is a little confusing. There are factions that strike out against the Relay. Some people who work for the Relay believe in Donaldson, others don’t but yet they still work for the Relay. That whole part of the issue is confusing to me. We also do not learn much about the main character besides he seems like he likes his job and going to new worlds. Other than that we learn nothing about him, or really anybody else, to grow attached to them.


The art in Relay #1 is spectacular. Andy Clarke does some phenomenal work in this issue. Clarke has a mesmerizing detailed style with some bold ink lines that brings everything to life. He fills the world of Relay up with an absurd amount of background detail. The amount of things he puts into the backgrounds of Relay #1 is amazing. It makes this whole world feel alive and fully realized. Clarke also does some wonderful panel structure and page layouts throughout Relay #1. The scene of our Relay “cops” confronting a “protestor” is amazing. The protestor sets off a sound device and Clarke breaks up the panels and action tremendously well—showing disorientation while still showing the action perfectly.

If I have one minor complaint about Andy Clarke’s art it would be the emotionless faces. The faces are lacking that expressiveness of what is happening to the characters. It is not a big thing but it does bring the story and art down a little notch.

Dan Brown also does some superb coloring work on Relay #1. I love the wide array of colors he uses throughout this issue. From the crowded city streets, a blast with billboards and advertisements, to the pink hue of the skyline, Brown adds in unique coloration throughout the issue. Brown does a good job of using bright colors when necessary and then toning it down.


While I am not 100% certain what exactly is going on in Relay #1, it still has me hooked. My confusion is not enough to draw me away from the story just yet, as the sci-fi angle and mystery have kept me thinking for a while after putting down this issue. The art in Relay #1 is fantastic and it is truly a beautiful book to look at. The art team brought this world to life with some stunning detail that will absolutely mesmerize your eyes. Relay #1 is a solid, yet confusing, start that will have you thinking long after you set the issue down.

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About the author

Brent Jackson

Brent is happily married and an avid comic book consumer who loves nothing more than the smell of comics in the morning and diving through a long box of back issues. By day he is a nutritionist and has also been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 10 years. He is probably not the coolest person you have ever met. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @brentjackson30

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