September 2, 2009

Virtual Living - A Review of "The Surrogates"

It was almost poetic, in a way - first, catching the trailer for Surrogates at the front of District 9 on a Saturday, then finding a copy of the graphic novel at my local library. Eagerly, I read the graphic novel on the Orange Line trip to work, and quite led me to sitting one evening and rereading it again.

The Surrogates is easily one of the better graphic novels/series compilations out there, with a unique feel, style, and mixture of good art and strong storytelling.

What works about The Surrogates as a graphic novel is...well, a lot of things. First, even though there are some big ideas (basically, humanity using robotic duplicates in an unusual twist on virtual worlds), this doesn't read like a screenplay-to-be unlike some other properties (yes, I'm talking to you, 30 Days of Night) - Robert Venditti's writing incorporates a series of styles (noir, science fiction, police procedural) that seem to flow effortlessly into a rather intriguing plot. Nothing about this plot feels cliche - the tale is one where I found myself rereading pages not because I didn't follow along, but because I wanted to get more detail.

Brett Weldele's art and coloring also help bring this world to life - using mostly grays, tans, and blues, his backdrops make this future world seem all the more real. (Fortunately, in the "DVD Extras" section in the back of the book, the way Wedele used computers to finesse his penciling make for very engaging reading). Saying that this is a book that looks like no other is a slight understatement, as Wedele's art does just as much to tell the story as Venditti's writing.

No matter what the success of the film, the graphic novel does much to have a kind of "indie blockbuster" feel, combining some grand ideals with some down-to-earth art. It's the kind of book that stimulates the mind as well as the eyes...and provides a great experience as well.

Very Highly Recommended

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