Silver Surfer #1 Review
An intriguing premise, with an odd Maguffin, and Allred at the peak of his powers.
Going to great lengths to explain minor plot points.
The Sentinel of the Spaceways is back with a new #1, but is it for everybody? Your Major Spoilers review of Silver Surfer #1 awaits!
Previously in Silver Surfer: The story of Norrin Radd is one of sacrifice and courage, as our hero gave himself in servitude to the world-shattering planet-eater Galactus to save his home world and his beloved Shalla-Bal. For years, he was nothing more than a herald, leading Galactus to planet after planet, trying to minimize the planet-killer’s wrath, but a chance encounter on a backwater world led to him finally breaking free of his master and becoming a hero once again. Since then, Norrin has been through a lot, and the Silver Surfer is known throughout the galaxy as a hero, a Defender, and sometimes a decent guy. But is even the Power Cosmic a match for the oncoming threat of the Never Queen?
ONE DAY, IN THE ORBIT OF BRUNDLEBUS 3
For a very long time at Marvel, no one but Stan Lee was allowed to use the Silver Surfer, because the character’s uniquely philosophical bent was difficult to pull off, and it was felt that his creator was the only one who could get it exactly right. For me, the Silver Surfer suffers more even than Superman from the “so powerful we have to jump through hoops to create drama” syndrome, and this issue isn’t afraid to take that problem head-on, opening the book with the Silver Surfer reigniting the sun of a doomed world…
Actually, no, that doesn’t actually “open” the book, it’s the first appearance of our title character. The book opens with a flashback to several years ago, as a pair of twins, cleverly named Dawn and Eve, who wish upon a shooting star. Eve wishes for a life of adventure and travel, while Dawn wishes that everyone could get their own wish on the magic star. It’s a lovely moment from Dan Slott, full of character and charm, and gives us something that will be very important later. Cleverly, the star the girls are wishing on turns out to be the Silver Surfer himself, scouting out Earth for destruction by his ravenous overlord, Galactus. The art is simply wonderful for me, with the Surfer a simple, elegant figure, while Eve and Dawn have some of the most expressive faces I’ve seen in comic books. I understand that Mike Allred’s art is an acquired taste, and that many will avoid this book simply BECAUSE of his work, but the Kirby-esque lines that he works with are perfectly suited to the world of the Silver Surfer, especially when he is recruited by mysterious probes to come to a place called “The Impericon” and serve as their champion. What’s the Impericon, you ask?
THAT TWO-PAGE SPLASH FLOORED ME
It’s a literally breath-taking sight, that’s what. The Impericon is a planet-sized Palace that is simply gorgeous to look at, shown in a massive double-page spread that is crammed with detail and clever architectural bits. Laura Allred gets the MVP award for this issue, though, outshining both her husband’s pencils and the script with her coloring of this double-page spread, a task so monumental that I’m experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome in sympathy with her poor, clearly-exhausted coloring hand. The Impericon, it seems, has a problem: a mighty force known only as the Never Queen is after the energy source that powers their wonderful palatial home, and she is willing to destroy anyone and anything to get it. Moreover, her power is such that even the presence of a Herald of Galactus and his mighty Power Cosmic isn’t considered a sure thing to defeat her. It’s nice the way Slott works with the Surfer’s known power-levels to explain why he’s needed, but it feels like they hammer a little too hard on the point that The Impericon works to remain unknown to him, and that his status makes him a threat but he’s special blah blah blah fishcakes. Still, it’s a minor point in an otherwise good issue. The Incredulous Zed, the speaker for the Impericon, exposes the Surfer to “The Motivator”, their tool for choosing champions, and it deems him worthy. It also captures the person most important to him and sticks her in their dungeon for safekeeping, just in case he changes his mind. Is it his mother? Shalla-Bal? Mantis? No, to the surprise of The Surfer, it turns out that the most important person in the universe to him is, in fact, Dawn, the girl from the framing sequence. The Silver Surfer looks up in shock, before declaring “I have absolutely *NO* idea who that is.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: I AM INTRIGUED
Why is she important? Who is the Never Queen? What can even the Silver Surfer do? These are all interesting questions, and they all make me want to come back next issue for more. Dan Slott delivers a fascinating script that takes many previous incarnations of the Surfer and uses all of them, from Lee & Kirby’s philosopher to Steve Engelhart’s inexplicable ladies’ man, and puts him in a situation that acknowledges his inhuman might, but still provides a threat that seems dangerous even to our hero. I love Allred’s work throughout this issue, especially a beautiful moment wherein his body, being scanned by the Motivator, shows important moments of his life in the style of the late Jack Kirby, who initially drew them. I don’t know why people hate Mike’s style (but, I also don’t know why people love Humberto Ramos on Spider-Man, so chalk it up to different strokes) but if you’re a fan, or even neutral to his work, this book is a pretty beautiful chunk of work. Silver Surfer #1 has a solid-but-intriguing premise, strong writing, great art, and a fun shiny main character, as well as some of the most wonderful coloring in recent memory, nailing the total package for 4 out of 5 stars overall. I recommend that you give it both a look and a chance to capture your imagination…