June 24, 2010

Getting Graphic: "The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone" by Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele

Title: The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone
Author: Robert Venditti
Illustrator: Brett Weldele
Published: Top Shelf (2009)
Pages: 140
ISBN 978-1-60309-018-6

One of the good things about Venditti's and Weldele's The Surrogates was that the world they created felt whole, and it felt like there was a fully realized history to that world. We didn't get to see it as readers, but through allusions to it and through character dialogue, we understood where just about every single character was coming from.

With the second book, which is a prequel, The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone, Venditti and Weldele take us back in time to fully explore the precipitous events that led to the exciting and engrossing original graphic novel.

Detective Harvey Greer isn't a detective yet, only a beat cop with aspirations of one day becoming a detective. His first real shot at becoming one appears in the form of a murder committed on a flesh and bone person by one or more surrogates. Unlike the original book, this one isn't as much a mystery as an examination of the events talked about in the original: why cops are all issued their own surrogates, why Greer's wife is hopelessly addicted to life through surrogacy, why the Prophet has become so influential in decry surrogates, etc.

We learn who the killer(s) is right off the bat--a teenage boy with no regard for the homeless man he beat to death while "joyriding" his wealthy dad's surrogate. And while the kid's white and his victim is black, race doesn't really play a role in the story as much as the classism shown among the haves and the have-nots.

It's not a bad story, really. Kind of a "Law & Order" version of a sci-fi thriller. The only thing is that it doesn't really feel like it adds anything new; it simply contextualizes what was already established in the first graphic novel. It's a fine bit of flashbackery for those that want to see what happened with the early character development, but there's not a whole lot beyond that. In fact, it kind of felt like this book should have been published first. Although there is one key scene at the very end of the book that would act as a spoiler to the original novel if Flesh and Bone was read first.

It's okay, but if there is a third Surrogates graphic novel out there, I hope it does something to carry the narrative forward instead of basking in what's already been done.

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