Monday, June 27, 2016

Silver Surfer #4 Review and **SPOILERS** - Marvel Mondays

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Written By: Dan Slott
Art By: Michael Allred, Laura Allred,
Lettered By: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: May 18, 2016


When Marvel first announced the new run on Silver Surfer with Dan Slott and Mike Allred, I snorked. Good job, Marvel, I thought, smug in my comics business superiority, you could have made me get a comic from either one of those creators, but with them both on the same book I only need to buy one! Dan Slott is one of my favorite writers, since that Spider-Man/Human Torch four issue miniseries with the unfortunate-looking covers, and if you have a problem with the Allreds’ artwork then your eyes are undoubtedly broken. In fact, when I heard Mike Allred was connected with new stories of Norrin Radd, I whacked my forehead like I coulda had a V8, because he’s perfect to draw this chromed-out character from the cranium of Kirby. What I’m trying to say is that I have very positive feelings about this comic book, and you can read some of them in my review right now!

Explain It!

So uh, I don’t have to explain who the Silver Surfer is, right? One time resident of the planet Zenn-La, saved it from being destroyed by Galactus by becoming his space-surfing herald, found Earth and decided to make a stand against Galactus to protect it…well in Slott and Allred’s run, he’s been cruising the spaceways with Massachusetts native Dawn Greenwood, in a series of very enjoyable adventures that some say are a little like Doctor Who thematically, and by that I mean they are definitely a lot like Doctor Who thematically. It really has been a real fun comic to read, and this issue opens with the Silver Surfer…dead?! Yep, he stopped the Illuminatrix, a device from his homeworld of Zenn-La that was under the control of the Surfer’s first love, Shalla Bal. What the Illuminatrix did was go around from planet to planet, turning each of them into Zenn-La: paradises free of oppression and hardship, but lacking in the arts and other forms of expression borne of suffering. So uh...we all know that the blinkered paradise is better, right? Like, art as an expression of social malaise can be appreciated because there is social malaise—but if we can eradicate the problems, then who cares about the art? Just give me my eternal ambrosia fountain and go on with your illicit graffiti and maudlin poetry! Anyway, Silver Surfer hacked into the Illuminatrix and changed every planet, including Earth, back the way they were by erasing the very culture and history of Zenn-La! This left the invading force from Zenn-La in all-white, featureless costumes and spaceships, sort of like the No Frills supermarket wares from Repo Man, except, uh, aliens and flying eggs. To do so, Surfer had to drain all of his life force, otherwise known as he’s dead now.

But before he died, to connect himself to them and then to protect them from the Illuminatrix, Silver Surfer gave rings made of his cosmic silvery essence or whatever to Dawn, Alicia Masters, and the Thing, and when they squeeze these back into his goopy armor he comes back to life a little bit! But he is still very weak, so he’s rushed to the hospital a hero, having saved Earth from being turned into a lame suburban strip mall. And this is like an assembly of almost every hero currently operating in the Marvel Universe, all rendered in Mike Allred’s style that just sends me soaring, I love it so much. As they all hang out, crammed into Silver Surfer’s hospital room during what are certainly not visiting hours, different heroes are informed or sense that the once Zenn-Lavians are regrouping for an attack, likely on a prone Norrin Radd! It’s time for Marvel’s heroes to go to work. Thing tells his squeeze Alicia to stay behind, which Dawn finds endearing but Alicia explains is merely strategic, and everyone else takes off to fight the deposed Zenn-Lavians!

Now, if you are a fan of Mike Allred’s artwork, and scenes of heroes fighting for righteousness against all odds, and if you enjoy seeing ordinary people band together under a common cause in support of said heroes, and in doing so become heroes themselves, then you may read on from this point with glee. But if you do not like Mike Allred’s artwork or stories about the triumph of humanity against adversity, then I need to ask: who hurt you? What made your worldview so bleak that you simply can’t enjoy reading about a bunch of do-gooders and average Joes enjoining the common cause to protect a silver-suited space traveler? Because it is so much fun, and it should read as so much fun, and if you look at the same pages I did, at all the action in panels great and small, and come away thinking it sucks, then you might have a brain tumor. Please, get yourself checked out. Despite the heroes valiant efforts, however, eventually Shalla Bal crashes into the hospital to confront a still comatose Surfer.

Dawn and Alicia are still standing at his bedside, and Shalla orders them to stand clear. Alicia ain’t having it, though, and he busts up her cane, Daredevil style, to reveal some billy clubs, Daredevil style, and then proceeds to whup Shalla’s ass, Daredevil style. Indeed, it is shown that there’s an inscription in braille on the billy clubs, and they’re a gift from Matt Murdock himself! Everyone in the Marvel Universe loves Alicia Masters and it makes me very happy for some reason! Though Alicia gets some key blows in, Shallah eventually gets the upper hand, and is about to blast Alicia to kingdom come when Silver Surfer’s surfboard Toomee flies in front of the blast and takes its full brunt. His connection to the board having been severed, Surfer snaps awake and says he’s just had the craziest dream about turning Zenn-Lavians into the supermarket goods from a film called Repo Man—Norrin Radd’s seen it, too! Dawn stands between Silver Surfer and Shallah, but Silver tells her to stand down, that he must stand and face the music for having eliminated his own culture. And with that…Shallah shuns him, making him a Zenn-Lavian no longer. Sort of anticlimactic, but that’s all wiped away with the gushy good-vibes procession of diplomats offering citizenship to the countries of the world, and he even becomes a citizen of Yancy Street! But the most “feels” moment of the whole thing is when Dawn grabs his hand and says she’d like to be his home, and he accepts, and everyone is all like awwwwww and you’re like I’m not even crying shut up it’s a stupid comic book and then Dawn and Norrin hug and you’re like whatever this is so stupid I’m going to the bathroom.

Leave to a comic book about an extra-terrestrial alien with the power cosmic to have some of the most touching, human moments. This series is also pretty funny, if laughing is something you enjoy. Not enough good can be said about the artwork, the coloring handled by Laura Allred complements the highly-detailed, stylized drawings of Mike’s perfectly, and the drawings of Mike’s complement everything pure and right in this world. The stories are always good and sometimes sublime—this particular story is pretty good, made a lot more thrilling with the inclusion of much of the current Marvel Universe playing backup. If you’re staying away from this title because Dan Slott made fun of you on Twitter or because you haven’t enjoyed the Silver Surfer character in the past, I recommend you swallow your pride and adjust your preconceived notions and give this book a shot. I think it’s one of the very best on the stands and I imagine any superhero fan would enjoy it.

Bits and Pieces:

This issue was pretty strange for a romance comic. There are no-frills aliens, garish superheroes, and Squirrel Girl is there, too. But wraps with a tearful admission and a desperate hug, which is exactly how you'd expect a romance comic to end. Where was the jealous older sister? What about the problematic suitor whose problems are overlooked by a lovestruck young lady? I think this book has a long way to go before it stands alongside classic fare like True Romance, luckily this is a better title by far on every measurable level and stands perfectly alone as an awesome Silver Surfer book. Any sappy feelings you have while reading this comic are no extra charge.

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