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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/01/2006 Archived Entry: "Comic review: The Surrogates"

The Surrogates, Issues 1,2, & 3
by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele
Top Shelf Comics

"Everyone dreams of changing the world. I only want to change it back." -- Surrogates, issue 2

Review by Tom Good

In the year 2054, many people operate surrogates: cybernetic substitutes for themselves, almost like avatars in an online game but in the real world. Police officers and others in risky professions can use their surrogates to do the dangerous work, and if something goes wrong, the consequences are limited to surrogate repair or replacement. Other people use surrogates as a way to relate to the world in a younger, stronger, sexier body, or even a body of the opposite gender. But not everyone supports the use of the technology. It has created a new class distinction between those who can afford the devices and those who cannot, leaving the poor unable to compete. And a group called the Dreads opposes surrogates for religious reasons, on the grounds that man should not seek to improve upon God's creation. Against this backdrop, Lieutenant Harvey Greer investigates a series of violent attacks against surrogates. It seems that someone wants to turn the world back into a pre-surrogate society.

It turns out that Greer's wife will only talk to him through her younger, more attractive surrogate. Greer himself uses a surrogate that looks just like his real body, but he has to forego that "abomination" and show up in person to meet the leader of the Dreads. One of the interesting things about the comic is that it can be hard to tell the surrogates from the real humans. Though it begins like a typical detective story, the twists and turns of the plot become very interesting by issue 3.

The Surrogates is a color comic that combines forceful, almost angry lines with moody gradations of color to suggest a film-noir atmosphere. The visuals and concept remind me of the movie Blade Runner, which also featured a police officer and artificial humans, though it had a much different plot. The comic fleshes out its back story with future "media material" spanning several decades, such as newspaper articles, classified ads, and television transcripts. This succeeds in establishing the story within a large, convincing world. The additional content appears at the end of an issue rather than at the beginning, so it does not seem to slow down the story.

I would recommend The Surrogates. It is a good cyberpunk mystery that explores the social implications of technology.

Replies: 1 Comment

When the movie comes out "Robert Venditti" will be a household name.

Posted by Uncle Mike @ 06/08/2006 10:18 AM PST

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