The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone

The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone
The Surrogates Flesh and Bone review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Top Shelf - 978-1-60309-018-6
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2009
  • UPC: 9781603090186
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Crime, Science-Fiction

When first released, Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele’s dark world of people living their lives via mentally controlled android surrogates was only a modest success, but The Surrogates became an action film. Perhaps that guided some people back to the superior graphic novel. Anticipating the film being better than it turned out to be, Venditti and Weldele returned to their concept.

Wisely, rather than revisiting the original cast in 2059, Venditti opts to spotlight Harvey Greer as a patrolman who’s just taken his exam to become a detective. When a badly beaten man is discovered in an alley Greer is taken along by an older detective to interview a suspect, and from there the procedural work becomes one roadblock after another. The truth is discovered early, but proving it will be problematical, and Venditti delves into how several separate parties have their own spin on what happened, and how they attempt to influence public opinion.

This is a different set of circumstances in an earlier world, but Weldele takes the same approach, providing scratchy, but well defined people in gloomy environments reflecting their condition or the darkness of their souls.

Flesh and Bone investigates what ripples out from a tragedy, and how some people are able to exploit it for their own means. Were it to be set in the present day, and it could be with very few changes, it would mirror several tragedies prioritised in news reports, and possibly cause some offence, but punting it into the future distances events slightly. Venditti reveals how circumstances can quickly move beyond those who believe them under control, and also how powerful coincidence can be in reinforcing belief. As before, text features separating the chapters bolster the story and its cast.

Despite spelling out what was just background motivation for several of the cast in the original story, this is a more satisfying read than the first Surrogates graphic novel, which was already good. Everything is more tightly plotted, the people we’ve seen before feed logically into what they become, as do other aspects, and Venditti shows a world that’s not the way we want it, but sometimes justice is done.

Both Surrogates graphic novels are combined in the hardback Owners Manual.