“One more issue,” I said to myself, “If this book even gives me one mediocre issue, I can give it up.”
I had a big reason to avoid the current run on SILVER SURFER, and it’s for a major criticism levied towards it since 2014; the book is too “Doctor Who”. There’s a lot of lost love for Doctor Who with me– I apathetically dropped off as a fan in the middle of Matt Smith’s tenure and never looked back. The stories became recursive, the companions overstayed their welcome, even most of the fanbase
became remains insufferable. Dan Slott, however, is a huge fan of the series. (By now he might very well have a photo with each member of the cast doing Spider-Man hand gestures.) This very much shows in his writing SILVER SURFER, where the titular long-lived, star-spanning alien is paired up with an endlessly curious, enthusiastically average-human companion named Dawn Greenwood. Together, they explore (ominous destiny-related?) growing feelings for each other and have timey-wimey space adventures. The book has that fun sense of whimsy, with a lighthearted and wondrous tone amidst ambitious storytelling. He takes the unlimited aspect of the Surfer’s power and places the entire scope of the universe before him and his partner. Mike Allred does the best work of his career and is a perfect fit; his pencils match the aesthetic of Silver Age comics as befits Surfer, alongside all the benefits of Modern Age coloring provided by his wife Laura. Overall, the book is a new take on an old classic– like seeing a 1959 Cadillac cruise by next to you. But in space.
Now, the Silver Surfer I enjoy most is the portrayal of him being a lonely spacefarer– a wise warrior-poet, unquestionably powerful yet reaching out to emotional depths he’s not felt in millennia. Norrin Radd is a character for every rise he has in understanding and helping humanity, could fall twice over when they disappoint or reject him. It makes for a very tragic, very dramatic portrayal in keeping with Stan Lee’s Silver Age wordsmithing. Despite his near omnipotence, the Surfer cannot live in a perfect universe by his own influence and writhes in philosophical agony; his power and freedom come at a price most dear. That’s characterization that’s carried him through 90% of his 50-year publication history. Characterization that works, but stagnates, the kind of thing writers would want to shake up every once in a while, by putting him on a team like The Defenders, or having him return as Galactus’ right hand.
Comic book fans are supposed to champion the status quo, right? I should hate what storytellers Slott and the Allreds are doing on this book. I should actively look for an excuse to drop the book because seeing the character enjoying life is not what I want in my Surfer. These creators weave new, interesting tales featuring the character that consistently draw me back in to read. A planet of Galactus-surviving refugees? Sure. Surviving Doctor Doom’s Secret Wars rewrite of the universe and toying with the ramifications in creating a new one? You bet. Having all of Silver Surfer’s loves vie for his attention with the return of Shalla-Bal? Oh yeah. There’s a rich background, truly great character moments, and so many things that feel fresh, but those were the big ones for me. The current run on Silver Surfer is emerging to be truly historic, and the fact we’re hot off the heels of a well-deserved landmark 200th Issue / 50th Anniversary celebration issue only adds to the experience.
That brings me to the latest issue, SILVER SURFER #7, released on October 26th, which is one the best single issue stories I’ve read this year, and maybe of all-time from Marvel. Reason enough to gush about my love for the character and his series.
(And also high stakes poker, which is always a fun time in the world of superheroes, used to great effect in another great single issue by Slott in his 2006 run on THE THING.)
Anyway, the story begins with the Silver Surfer taking his lovable human companion Dawn Greenwood to an array of astoundingly enjoyable worlds in their latest jaunt about the universe. A trampoline planet, a planet with adorable animals, a cotton candy planet, and a planet that not only has baby aliens, but a ball pit. You see, Dawn’s been through a bit of a harrowing experience– the Surfer arranged a meeting with her mother for the first time in over a decade. a meeting that left Dawn essentially disowned. For a girl who placed family over everything in her life, she was devastated. Norrin Radd, trying to be the best guilt-ridden boyfriend ever, takes her to these places as a diversion, but she catches on.
And they’re off to THE CASINO COSMICO, a den of gambling iniquity that attracts even the great and powerful Satan-allegory Mephisto to press his luck. He throws down with another patron– Charlie Daniels Band style, with a fiddle of gold against his soul– in a double page spread that is equal parts stunning and hilarious. Things get out of hand for Norrin and Dawn, as quickly as they find themselves winning, be it something as abstract as a someone else’s memory or becoming a living Academy Award, they start to lose– big time! Silver Surfer ends up betting his board, Dawn loses the ability to see the color red, and the Surfer can no longer say the letter ‘B’.
Any game of chance, any game of skill, he has played and won them all. He’s even beaten Death in a Contest of Champions. Now, he’s throwing down the proverbial gauntlet by giving the Silver Surfer and Dawn one last chance. A poke game of ultimate stakes– and an INFINITE ALL-IN. To stay in the game, they chance even the Power Cosmic and Dawn’s life in servitude… and one more thing that has to be read to be believed.
I’ll tell ya, it’s enough to make an Elder of the Universe sweat. Slott? Allreds? You’ve got me as a reader anywhere and everywhere.
Until the Surfer soars… and soars alone… Make Mine Marvel!
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