Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Mike Allred
The Silver Surfer is one tough character. He’s got a fascinating back-story and ridiculous power, but he also has a ridiculous means of transportation. If you start paying attention to the fact that an alien being from a distant universe understands what a surf board from California is and even names himself “The Silver Surfer” then you start to see the ludicrousness of it all. The Surfer’s creation is a sign of the times in which he was created, a time when comics were almost exclusively for kids and they were well, sillier.
The complicated part of it all is that as silly as the Surfer can appear he has an extremely melancholy back-story and in traditional story form his character is quite sad. He experiences some of the most awe inspiring beauty of the universe, but he does so alone. When he was a herald of Galactus it was even worse because he had to carry the guilt of saving his home world and his one true love by agreeing to help the planet consuming Galactus find other worlds to eat and potentially killing millions or even billions. Galactus instilled in the Surfer the gnawing need to surf the stars and see new worlds. So when The Surfer defied Galactus rather than simply destroy the Surfer he exiled him to Earth. Being tethered to earth for all eternity meant that the Surfer could only look up that stars that would always beckon him, a clever punishment.
Now that Galactus has been banished to The Negative Zone courtesy of the heroes of the Ultimate comics the Surfer is not only free of being a herald for the planet eater but his ties to Earth have been broken. So in this new series by Dan Slott he can again surf the stars but now he won’t be doing it alone.
This first issue is made up of flashbacks, flash-forwards, and a current time story. The time jumping is handled pretty well and it does a good job of defining everyone’s motivations without tons of exposition. The fact is that many questions are purposefully not answered in this issue because this is just the beginning of a new story arc. The Surfer is traveling along helping miniature aliens save their tiny sun when he is requested to be the “champion” of a world supposedly in jeopardy. He agrees to travel to the world to investigate. In the past we see the Surfer’s first contact, sort of, with a young woman that we know will eventually become his travel mate. Oh and there’s one little comic book battle that really has no impact of the core story arc being established with this first installment to the new series.
Slott seems to be embracing the silliness of the character with some humor which is quite different than what longtime fans of the character are probably going to be expecting. The humor feels like it might be a throwback to the really early days of the character when just about all comics were infused with humor regardless of how dire the circumstances of the overall story are. The story here is full of unique aliens, all again with a really retro feel and look, 1930’s sci-fi serial style of story, mystery, and of course action. While the resulting cliffhanger does bring up some questions to be answered those answers seem to be a bit on the obvious side. Sure Slott could totally throw us off in upcoming issues with a twist but if the style of storytelling stays consistent then there won’t be any big shockers here.
It might seem like this retro approach to the Silver Surfer is fresh compared to the current era grounded cinematic storytelling so common in Marvel Comics. The truth is other than J. Michael Straczynski’s spectacular miniseries Silver Surfer Requiem this character’s stories are always told in this manner. Why can’t we get a more cinematic and adult story featuring The Silver Surfer. Sure some of the characters’ attributes make telling a story steeped in real world atmosphere challenging but it can be done, it was done in Requiem. The final pages of this read actually were too reminiscent of 1960’s comics. It’s not bad but it just seems a little too cheesy for modern tastes.
The artwork here is also common to Silver Surfer comics. It seems like every creative team agrees to give the Surfer a go when they need to work out their retro comic fantasy. The colors, the lines, and the detail all feels straight out of the 60’s. This comic book doesn’t feel as much like homage to the era as much as it feels like a lost issue of one of the Silver Surfer’s original comics. Character designs and action scenes don’t have much originality and they can often sort of disappear in a sea of rainbow colors. There are just a minor few flourishes here and there that feel modern but overall this art just feels out of time and as pretty as it is it’s just been there done that for The Silver Surfer.
The Silver Surfer is a character I have always loved but he needs a Thor: God Bomb sort of modern reinvention. Similar to Thor he seems like a challenging character to get right in a solo book. In the 80’s he was a great addition to The Defenders but even then his solo books were not great. He was also great in guest appearances in The Avengers and The Fantastic Four. This series is really only for hardcore Surfer fans or for those looking for a classic approach to comic book storytelling.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10