The Surface #1
Writer – Ales Kot
Artist – Langdon Foss
Colourist – Jordie Bellaire
Letterer – Clayton Cowles
Publisher – Image Comics
Ales Kot has been presenting some very challenging subject matters within the comic book world over the last couple years through series like Change and Zero from Image and even approaching well established characters under a unique light in Secret Avengers and Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier. He has approached relevant topics such as the age of heavy surveillance that we currently live in to the difficult question of trying to understand the individual self. He has worked alongside some fantastic artists to breathe life into the perspectives Kot has and continues to tackle. From Michael Walsh to Marco Rudy and an array of collaborators from Zero alone, Kot firmly stands tall next to these great artists. And now, for The Surface, Kot is at the helm once again to pose a question that is highly relevant in the state of our current society: “When you look under the surface of things, what do you see?”
Mark Loki sits with his two friends, Gomez and Nasia, absorbing the recent speech made by Mark’s dad, the President. They have decided to unplug from their lifelog devices: an implant that allows the wearer to log their life at all times. Experiences and memories are shared faster than food is received at the local coffee corporation. Sound familiar? Mark and his friends are on a mission to locate and hopefully understand the true meaning of what is merely an urban legend: the surface. The surface is described as an outside reality that proves this theory that the world and the universe as a whole is a hologram, and everything that is understood to be real is very far from that. The three characters venture out of their home city of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, into the desert wilderness hoping to encounter and experience what lies underneath the surface of their reality.
The Surface will be a challenging read for some but presents a close enough link to our own understanding and questioning of the society and reality of the world that we live in that will appeal to the readers who are interested in these grandiose thoughts. Ales Kot has always struck a unique chord within his writing, where certain questions posed tend to wiggle into your brain, sprouting into a garden of ideas and possibilities. The Surface definitely appears to be right down this vein.
Langdon Foss’s art holds itself firmly alongside Kot’s script, detailing through some well expressed line work the depth within the frames and the fear and excitement on the faces of the characters presented. Jordie Bellaire, as she has been steadily doing with all of her colour work, utilizes some starker tones of colour within the city of Dar Es Salaam compared to the warmer hues of red, orange, and yellow as Mark and his friends set up camp outside the city. Clayton Cowles adds a nice touch to the sound effects, giving a real sense of texture as Gomez’s foot slips as he descends alongside the cracks within the land or the sudden glow of the holo-heater.
There are sudden breaks within the comic’s pages that feature an article on the theory of the surface and an interview from a writer named Doublehead, bridging the gap between the comic world and our own as the interviewee appears to be Kot himself (especially noticeable when referencing his own work). There are also moments of placing advertisements, Bioshock-like, within the title card, placed about half way through. This rapid firing of information is all too similar to the amount of overwhelming media that flies by us in the ‘real’ world; putting things on pause to absorb an alternate source of information. The creative team has done an excellent job at poking the societal fire where the digital age has hypnotized the masses into an unfortunate state of comfort through mass-consumption.
The Surface #1 teases towards what is next and if the final panel is of any suggestion, the contents revealed within The Surface is going to warp your mind.