Surrogates: Flesh and Bone

In the 2009 prequel to one of my favorite graphic novels ever, Venditti and Weldele give us a glimpse into the past and reveal the events that will eventually lead to the story in Surrogates.

Brett Weldele's moody, atmospheric drawing once again dazzles, straddling the line between comics and graphic design, with a signature style that puts him in the upper echelon of current greats like Ashley Wood and Ben Templesmith. The art is strong and loud, with linework that feels raw and gritty.

Robert Venditti's story is a bit hobbled by the fact that it has to get to a certain place at a certain time, and feels, at times, more interested in continuity than nuance. But, it remains clear that his work is more that what we see in most comics: a clear vision of a possible future; speculative fiction transformed into a new medium, and done for great effect. If he decides to continue the series, I'd love to see a story that is barely even tangential to the main arc, maybe something with completely different characters. I understand that the Prophet story is what's really happening, but it seems that every city must have a million other stories going on.

In summary, I guess my expectations were too high. Surrogates, in my opinion, is one of the best comics ever written, with a unique and realistic voice about where the world is going. It speaks through allegory about real problems in our time: racism, sexism, self-image, the cult of vanity. Don't get me started on the butchering that Ferris, Brancato and Mostow gave it. The movie was disappointing beyond mentioning, especially the last scene. And why did they get rid of the burglar surrie with the laser whip?

It's not fair to compare Flesh and Bone to what may be Venditti's masterpiece. It's a very good comic that has something important to say about race and class in a frightening future, a future that may be just around the corner. The pacing and action start off strong, but it fails to deliver a memorable climax. What begins with violence ends with politics, making the work seem excessively front-heavy.