by Ales Kot, Langdon Foss, Jordie Bellaire
From the writer of Zero and Change comes this new an equally layered story, The Surface. Ales Kot, who has proven that he can craft multi-layered stories that test the reader in the understanding of what is possible on the page, came out swinging with the first chapter of this new series. Blending bits of interviews, multiple narrators and a plot line that introduces the concept that all of this reality the reader is viewing could be a hallucination, The Surface was clearly not shying away from what it wanted to be. In the second issue, the trio that readers met last issue explore this strange environment and the story grows ever more intriguing.
One thing that is noticeable in this issue is that it holds a bit more linear than the first. While there is still an additional dimension brought in by the interview piece going on in the story, the book stays with the trio of characters for a longer window of time, and does not spend as much time discussing technology and other elements of this new world. While none of those were problematic in the first issue, this second chapter does feel a bit more direct over the thirty pages. Mark and his friends venture into this strange environment and readers are treated to absolutely gorgeous art from Langdon Foss and Jordie Bellaire. Foss’s character constructions have some aesthetics similarities to Gabrielle Rodriguez and Becky Cloonan. But this environment is unpredictable and Bellaire coats the surroundings in a surreal rainbow. Mark comes across a soccer ball and is suddenly witnessing an event from his childhood. The moment is a slight bit of character development for the individual, though the elements of who he is and who his father remain rather unclear. The scene feels like one that will grow in its impact and clarity as the story continues.
The strange artifact that readers were introduced to in the opening pages of the first issue reveals itself to Nasia in the middle of the night and it is not quite clear if the object is there or is simply a hallucination. All the while, Kot continues to layer in the dual narrators and there is a significant opacity to the story telling on display in the chapter. Mr. Loki, Mark’s dad, has sent a militarized group in after his son, though Kot has yet to reveal anything to clue readers in as to why this is happening. With an incredibly small amount of information in a story with such significant leaps from reality, it is impressive just how captivating and engaging The Surface can be. Kot is no stranger to surreal stories, and following the release of one of his more mind-bending issues in Zero, fans of his craft will certainly not be thrown off by the tactics at play here. The construction of The Surface feels akin to the work of Grant Morrison and also has some shared concepts to Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT. With footnotes and narration boxes that appear to be communicating with someone else, or even an attempt to communicate with one of the characters, The Surface is the type of story that will require an immense amount of patience. This, however, is in now way a criticism of the story. Instead, the recognition of Kot’s writing choices allow readers to approach the book in the right frame of mind. Kot slips in bits of commentary through elements that seem to take aspects of the world today and assume the eventual direction of their advancements.
There are a number of amazingly enthralling concepts at play in The Surface already and the series has only existed for two issues. After the events of this second chapter, it looks as though the book could shift dramatically in the next chapter. At the very least, after these two issues, it is quite difficult to have any idea about what to expect next. This is not a series for everyone, though it does not need to be in order to be a well made story. Despite so much being distorted or withheld thus far, what has transpired proves that a skilled writer can present a story that has no obvious next part and still be unquestionably captivating. Langdon Foss’s excellent art, that seems quite capable in depicting and immersing readers into the bizarre, helps bring the story to life. And in the hands of Jordie Bellaire, the finished product is bound to look absolutely stunning. The extraordinary colorist has proven time and again that she can transform or adapt her technique in whatever way a book needs and this story is no different. The number of questions that The Surface has generated in just two issues may exceed the words in the script so far. But so long as the creators keep producing new content, readers will look forward to the next dozen uncertainties an issue will generate.