Surf’s Up

When I picked up Silver Surfer #1, I was a bit wary. To begin with, I haven’t had a whole lot of experience with the Cosmic side of the Marvel Universe, and while of course I know the Surfer, my experience with him has been limited mainly to appearances in other comics — Marvel Zombies, for instance. On top of that, Dan Slott is writing the series, which I have mixed feelings about. He’s done some good work in general on Amazing Spider-Man and Superior Spider-Man, but he’s had his ups and downs, with a number of his major story arcs being either hated or loved. And, as I believe I’ve probably mentioned before, I’m personally not a fan of the tone of Superior Spider-Man. But I give credit where credit is due; Slott made a bold move when he killed Peter and put Octavius in his place, and he made it work for over thirty issues.

By “made it work,” I mean in the general sense, not in terms of my opinion. I’m still overjoyed that Amazing Spider-Man is finally coming back and can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Anyway, you can see why I was a bit wary; picking up Silver Surfer meant stepping into unknown territory with no one to lead me but a guide in whom I have only tentative faith.

But let’s face it, with a logo that looks like it stepped out of the sixties and cover art to match, I figured it was worth taking a chance.

 

Silver Surfer #1 (2014)
Well, it’s only right — his real name is Norrin Radd, so why shouldn’t he have a “Radd-ical” cover? Please kill me.

At any rate, I grabbed the issue on an impulse, just to see what all the excitement was about. And damn, it was a good idea.

I can’t honestly give you a summary of what it’s about, because quite frankly I don’t know myself — the story is really just starting, and it’s starting from a point where it’s assumed you know at least the basics about the Surfer. And then you’re introduced to entirely new characters. So really the issue is just introductory material; we only really get the very bare beginnings of the story.

In other words, you’re given just enough to make you want the next issue.

The art is surprisingly not much different from the style of the cover. Bold black outlines and bright colors populate the pages, which is a very nice change of pace from the recent trend in comics, where everything is dark and gritty. I’m looking at you, Superior Spider-Man.

To be fair, Marvel actually does have a lot of relatively colorful series — Amazing X-Men, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Deadpool. But as follows of this blog know, I do tend to read a lot more from DC, which has a palette that’s considerably more muted than Marvel’s. Not to mention Image’s comics, which though not lacking in color, are often drawn in a style that seems to evoke the more intellectual nature of their storylines.

What really struck me about the comic, though, is how light it is. No, not physically. I mean content-wise. There are actually a number of humorous moments — especially the last panel — which to my knowledge isn’t a characteristic the Surfer is known for. I know for a fact that when Jack Kirby made the character, and in the numerous short-lived titles he had after his creation, there was a lot of focus given to the philosophical nature of the character. Which is where the titles ran into trouble, of course. No one wants to read a comic that has more words than images, and you can’t really have philosophy without walls of text. But somehow, this time around, Slott’s writing and Allred’s art imbue an incredible amount of pathos into the book. There are no giant blocks of text or long soliloquies on philosophy here, just good, fun story-telling with pretty art. And it works. It works really well. I’d definitely recommend it. It’s not a bad jumping on point for first-time Surfer readers, and it’s definitely gone from a “hm, I’ll check it out” title to “I need this on my pull list” title, for me.

 

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