There are a couple little perks that made me like this book right off the bat. The Surrogates is set in Atlanta. It was written by a local named Robert Venditti, and it’s published in nearby Marietta over at Top Shelf Productions. Cool. AND it’s a really cool story. I haven’t seen a lot of sci-fi comics, but this one makes up for the absence.
The Surrogates is set about 50 years from now. Technology has advanced such that humans can stay home safe and sound, while remotely controlling their electronic replacements, their surrogates, to take care of work… and play. Some folks don’t like it. So there’s some terrorism, some politics, and a good bit of gumshoe detective work. Luckily, Venditti’s writing doesn’t dwell too much on the heavyhanded dystopian riff, and the best meditative moments come out naturally in the characters’ conversations and interactions. Mixed between the chapters are Watchmen-like interludes, “primary documents” that help to flesh out the story, including sales brochures, editorials, news articles, and television transcripts.
I love Brett Weldele’s artwork in this book. Besides the sensitive work the the lettering, speech bubbles, and very spare sound effects, the coloring is especially good. It reminded me a bit of Dean Motter’s book, Batman: Nine Lives, with its restrained palette. One great set of panels show a crime scene inside a major industry lab. The lights have been tampered with, so the lab is drawn in a wash of a dark blue and grey, except for flashlight glare as the investigation goes on. A couple dozen panels later, the lights have gotten fixed, and the wash turns to a warm yellow. It’s a simple, but very cool effect. I read it all the way through the first time I started it. I predict that will happen again and again.