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This Comic Is Good: The Surrogates

On a recommendation from beloved comicblogger Neilalien and a thirst for something different, I picked up the first two issues of Top Shelf’s new sci-fi miniseries The Surrogates.

Dang.

It’s good.

The setup is both simple and rich with potential: in a near-future city, someone is murdering people at random by electrocuting them. The complication is that the “people” he kills aren’t people at all, but robot “surrogates” that people use to interact with the outside world. Almost nobody goes out in the flesh anymore, preferring to interact via their surrogate.

A keen-o concept by itself, yes. What makes the series good is how writer Robert Venditti and artist Brett Weldele extrapolate from the concept in intelligent ways. The main character, a policeman investigating the destruction of surrogates, hasn’t seen his wife in the flesh in years, and she refuses to interact without her robot double. When the police meet a scientist’s tall and beefy surrogate, the cops later joke about how small the real man must be to adopt such a persona.

The dialogue feels real as well. Nobody speaks in tough-guy cliches, nor is the story a Blade Runner ripoff.

God, it’s so refreshing to read a cop hero who doesn’t speak in faux-Chandler pseudo-poetry noir crap.

Vendetti put great care not only into the fictional world but the characters. What a beautiful thing.

Weldele’s art is unusual, tending towards roughly-inked outlines and watercolor-wash colors that give pages expressive moods conventional art wouldn’t.

Here’s a page from issue #2.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The Surrogates is an interesting mystery, an intelligent sci-fi story, and a comic with an engagingly different art style. Man, you don’t find that every day.

Very highly recommended.

2 Comments

Criminal Comics

April 18, 2008 at 7:12 pm

Robert Venditti will be at Criminal Records in Atlanta, GA on May 3rd, Free Comic Book Day, leading a discussion on his comic as well as the movie adaptation starring Bruce Willis.

Watercolor-wash colors? More like abusing the palette knife tool in corel painter or photoshop. Seriously, I can definitely see the story being good, but I can’t stand the guy’s artwork. Can someone please help me through that?

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