It is time to put the jokes aside. The biggest mystery within this series is how its’ writer, Dan Slott, can seem to shift 180 degrees between the quality expressed within this series and the often monotone and bombastically cynical dross which he chronicles in “Spider-Verse” issues. It has been an easy thing to twig on as time has gone on, but the contrast between both of Slott’s series continues to become more stark. Could it be the influence of the art team of Michael and Laura Allred, in the form of a “Marvel style” writing system when the pair are essentially co-plotting the series with Slott? Could it be the different editorial team than the one which handles “Amazing Spider-Man”? Could it be that despite statements to the contrary, “Silver Surfer” represents Slott’s true creative juices while “Amazing Spider-Man” has degenerated into the big book that he “has” to write to maintain his reputation and salary? Is “Silver Surfer” the quirky art house film next to “Amazing Spider-Man”‘s dumb popcorn blockbuster? Or perhaps the fact that Silver Surfer isn’t anywhere near as iconic, popular, micro-managed, or as heavily embellished in prior material as Spider-Man, this book can get away with more liberties? Although it seems strange to begin a review with such a debate, such a mystery has quickly become the only negative thing one could attach to this run on Marvel’s previously top tier space hero.
Although this comic picks up from the last issue back in November, it presents its’ own story apart from it that stands on its’ own. As has been shown in the previous seven issues, the bond between Norrin Radd from Zenn-La and Dawn Greenwood from Earth (Massachusetts to be specific) has seemed to grow stronger with their shared experiences. Becoming intertwined due to a random fluke of a space adventure, the pair have quickly been shown to balance each other out and make each other stronger. The exploring and cosmos traveling Silver Surfer encourages Dawn to be more adventurous, while the down-to-earth heart and inquisitive nature of Dawn has helped the Surfer rediscover some of the “mortality” he has often ignored. The pair have faced a variety of villains and challenges as they’ve explored the vastness of space, and so far have always come out on top. In this issue, the cover teases that the pair face “the greatest monster of all”, and it turns out to be Silver Surfer himself – or rather the secret he’s kept hidden from his new found love.
As with most dark revelations, it begins with something innocent. An exercise in allowing Dawn to control his board and pick their destination causes the pair to stumble onto the planet Newhaven, which is home to billions of the last individual members of different species. Initially welcoming, the Newhaveners soon discover that Silver Surfer is a “herald”, and finally explain to Dawn that her new boyfriend used to be the flunky of the embodiment of universal genocide himself, Galactus. The fact that Silver Surfer was attached to Galactus as recently as 2006-2011 only adds more weight to this revelation’s impact. Both members of Marvel Comics’ newest great romance find themselves heartbroken, and as the final page teases, the worst for them may be yet to come.
Every issue of “Silver Surfer” is a showcase for the Allreds’ art, and this is no exception. Not only do they draw and color space in a manner few artists aside for Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko could capture, but they are at home with varieties of aliens. Newhaven is naturally a good excuse for the pair to create an entire world of people who all look more bizarre and unique than each other. In terms of the story, Dan Slott skillfully balances comedic scenes with tragic ones and seems to be completely at home with his characters. Dawn Greenwood has quickly become one of his greatest creations, and this run is quickly becoming his true secondary run to “She-Hulk” in terms of mastering and revitalizing an old character who has slipped below the B-List in recent years.
It seems to be theme in comics that relationships tend to be destroyed as soon as they become strong. The fact that such a thing seems tragic when hinted after only eight issues speaks to the achievement which this series has attained. With sales waning, one can only imagine that the issues may be numbered for “Silver Surfer”, despite the fact that Dan Slott sells consistently for Marvel Comics elsewhere. As such, this could be the start of the final act of the series, and it is already looking to be the run’s best.
Below are honorable mentions. They are comics which didn’t soar as high as the Silver Surfer, but are still worth reading. One even involves space adventures, too!
Cyclops #9: Despite only being the fourth issue on this series by the new creative team of John Layman and artist Javier Garron proves to be among the best due to the tying of plot threads and themes. For the past few issues, the space faring bond between the recently resurrected Corsair and the time flung younger version of Cyclops was interrupted by a rival band of space pirates. Taking Corsair captive for a bounty and leaving the rest of the “Starjammers” for dead, Scott has survived as a member of the new crew via deception, pluck, and luck. Unfortunately, as this issue reveals, now that it becomes time to escape with his dad, Scott’s loyalties have become torn. Despite having kidnapped his dad and attacked his old friends, Cyclops has quickly found a place, and even love, within the role that he’s played for the ship “Desolation”. The art by Garron (and colors by Chris Sotomayor) is as good as always, but it’s the script by Layman which brings this issue into prominence. Sales may also make this arc the last for this series, and it is quickly looking like it will end at its’ peak.
Daredevil #12: Mark Waid officially completes his fourth year writing the adventures of “the man without fear”, and artist (and longtime co-storyteller) Chris Samnee once again provides some of the most jaw dropping art of any ongoing series at the “big two”. Picking up from last month, Daredevil has gotten involved with a new scheme from one of his lessor known adversaries, the motorcycle riding Stunt-Master. A figure who was initially a death defying pawn of others has seemed to take on a newer, darker edge for a different generation. Just when Murdock thinks he has it all figured out, it turns out that even his senses and instinct can be fooled. Rather than having been replaced by a younger kid and once again a pawn, it turns out that the original Stunt-Master, George Smith, has simply taken his desire to be a showman to deadly heights. While it is perhaps not what readers expected, Waid and Samnee have managed to revitalize an antagonist who has been mostly forgotten and turned him into something more unique in Daredevil’s woefully small gallery of rogues. The highlight of the issue is easily the car chase between Daredevil and Stunt-Master, which Samnee manages to make look vibrant and exciting despite comics being a static medium. As always, Kirsten McDuffie remains awesome, and her bond with Murdock a key part of the comic. What more is there to say? The Mark Waid run of “Daredevil” is now what fans of the character call the runs of Frank Miller and Brian Bendis of years past; an instant classic which remade the character and his cast for a new era at the right time. In fact, one of the few disappointing things to look forward to is the planned end of this run later in the year. All good things must end, and it will be great to see exactly how Waid and Samnee leave the character for readers when they are done.