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.
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.