I picked up these to trades from my local Library the other day when I went to pay the enormous fine I owed them because I am not smart enough to return items or conveniently renew them online. There is no reason anyone should ever owe our library a dime, given how easy they make it for you to renew, but this isn't the first or even fifth time I have almost had my library fine go into collection... and still I just can't quit them.
Robert Venditti wrote both of these stories, and Brett Weldele provided the art. The art is pretty great in my opinion, and works really well in both cases. I have been trying to think of what the art made me think of. Style-wise It seems like a combination of Frank Miller in Dark Knight Returns, and Ben Templesmith in Fell, with yet again another property created in the combining of the two and the use of single color page spreads and lots of muddy gray and earthtone washes, with the occasional blues thrown in. Even in the midst of fairly stylistic art, the characters were distinctive, easily identified, and expressive.
The writing is good, the characters are believable, and it works well, while not exactly making any major innovations with regard to storytelling, or what is effectively a police procedural sort of story mixed in with some commentary on human nature and corporations, and religion. I liked The Surrogates, and because of that, I loved the prequel Flesh and Bone. Flesh and Bone needs to be read after the Surrogates, even if you have no idea of the story, etc. The prequel hits all of the notes and expands upon them in some unexpected ways.
The Surrogates centers around the police investigation into a series of crimes against 'Surrogates' Artificial human analogues that are 'driven' by people and take the place of those people out in the real world. Surrogates allow Police and emergency workers to be able to work better and face less actual potential injury, etc. They are very common in the setting of the story. Detectives Harvey Greer and his partner are our guides through this, and Greer personally stands in for us in the story in my opinion.
Flesh and Bone takes us back to some important events that set the stage for the world as it is seen in the Surrogates. A homeless man is killed by three teens 'joy riding' in their dads' surrogates. This event puts a lot of events into motion, and we get to watch as Harvey Greer participates in the case that will move him from being a uniformed cop to being a detective. We also see his own personal first experiences with surrogates on an intimate level that really gives greater impact to the story as you already know it.
I am not sure either of these will ever find a permanent spot on my bookshelf, but if they do, it will still cast me less than the fine I will rack up having them out from the library..