Ah, the old android/shapeshifter/entity posing as a member of the crew. Such a staple of sci-fi, from the first televised episode of Star Trek through to Stargate SG-1 (Kumtraya!), and many more. Often the android/entity/shapeshifter ends up dead by the end of the episode.

Another take on it is the clone or duplicate – a real copy of the original character, rather than a fake version. Because these are “real people”, it’s not so common to shoot them in cold blood. Instead they tend to either sacrifice themselves for the greater good, or they’re just let loose to run round the universe on their own – occasionally reappearing in later episodes. This spin on the plot has lead to a spare Blake running round the Blake’s 7 universe, and Thomas Riker romancing his way round the world of Star Trek.

So whether it’s aliens or androids, clones or evil twins, the idea of two identical-looking characters is a common one (heck, even Shakespeare used it). Some plots deal with the idea of self, while many deal more with other people’s perceptions of the individual. But regardless of the finer points of the plot, there are enough uses of “No, I’m the real [character name]” for it to be a worthwhile target for The Greys.

But this strip also has another source of inspiration: the world of comics themselves. It’s usually taken as read that the speech and thought bubbles in a comic are merely a tool for the reader – a facility for exposing the dialogue on a flat page. But what if they’re more than that? What if that’s actually how people in the “comic world” communicate? What if they can see each other’s speech bubbles?

If that’s the case, then the shape and colour of the bubbles becomes more than a clue to the reader, it becomes the comic book equivalent of intonation and inflection. And the harsh robotic voice in a spiky speech bubble isn’t just heard in the readers mind any longer, it’s a real and tangible thing to the other characters in the comic world. Even with the same physical appearance and words, it’s no longer possible for an android to hide… or is it?

Cette bande dessinée est aussi disponible en français
This comic is also available in French

Komik ini juga tersedia dalam Bahasa Indonesia
This comic is also available in Indonesian

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↓ Transcript
[One Grey (G1) holding a gun at two others (G2, G3)]

G3: I'm the real John Grey, and he's the imposter

G2 (in a spiky speech bubble): No, I'm the real John Grey, and he's the imposter

[G1 shoots G2]

G3: How did you know which one of us to shoot?

G1: I've read enough comic books to know that the android is always the one with the spiky speech bubbles