By Leroy Douresseaux
Nov 5, 2006 - 23:24
The year is 2054. Virtual reality and cybernetics have merged to create the Surrogate - a mechanical stand-in for real humans. Someone can plug into his or her surrogate, and stay at home while the surrogate goes out the door into the real world.
The trouble begins - this wave of terror in the Central Georgia Metropolis (Atlanta) - with the seemingly accidental destruction of a pair of surrogates. Chips, circuitry, and wires: all of it fried as if each received a direct hit from a bolt of lightning. Lt. Harvey Greer and Sgt. Pete Ford of the Metro Police Department are assigned to the case as detectives. After a few more instances of surrogates found fried by a power surge, Greer realizes that these aren't accidents. Someone is destroying them and Greer, in true tough cop form, is determined to find that someone. What he finds is a techno-terrorist - destroying surrogates and infiltrating the giant corporate manufacturers that make them - a mysterious figure that Greer names Steeplejack.
If that weren't bad enough - there is quasi-religious leader named Zaire Powell, III, also known as "The Prophet," who once led massive demonstrations against the surrogates. In a peace treaty with the city, he and his people, who believe that those who live through surrogates will spend eternity in (the Judeo-Christian) Hell, live in their own fenced off section of the city, the Dread Reservation. But The Prophet and his people are stirring again and Greer knows that his hunt for Steeplejack just got more complicated.
I've already praised to high heavens Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele's, The Surrogates, a superb science fiction, noir, action thriller. It's a slight visual riff on the film Blade Runner, but with more substance, as this narrative proudly wears its social commentary on its sleeves. The Surrogates' tale of physical appearance and body imagery is even more relevant now than when it was original published, especially in light of recent TV news stories about the use of Photoshop to alter photographs of human subjects - especially images of cover models for major magazines.
The recent trade paperback is like a DVD release. Not only does The Surrogates TPB contain the original five-issue mini-series, but it's also chock full of extras (including a separate gallery of the original covers for the mini-series). In "The Surrogates: Behind the Scenes," Venditti presents a few concept drawings before moving onto a favorite of many fans - the script to page section.
Venditti presents a script page (page 28 from Chapter 5). Then, we get to see Weldele's five-step process for creating a page comic art - from rough pencil sketches to the final page with color and color effects. We get a glimpse at the ad campaign from the series, and a look at a deleted scene from Chapter 4. Each of the original five issues had a small gallery of pinup illustrations from the likes of Kieron Dwyer, Duncan Fegredo, and Greg Ruth (who contributed two pinups), and all of those are collected in this volume.
The book design by the team of Bissel & Titus is beautiful, and the cover has flaps just like a book jacket for a hardcover volume. Readers who've heard about this series and have been interested, but didn't buy the original run will find The Surrogates TPB to be a terrific way to experience this wonderful Sci-Fi delight. Not only does the reader get Venditti and Weldele's acclaimed narrative, but also the kind of behind-the-scenes treats that enrich the reading experience.
This book can also be purchased directly from the publisher via their website, topshelfcomix.com.