Dan Slott, Mike Allred, and Laura Allred
Slott and Allred’s first volume of Silver Surfer was one of the highlights of 2015, and it was easily one of the most anticipated series in the All New All Different relaunch.
It does not disappoint. Picking up right where it left off, this book is delirious good fun, and the kind of vibrant space adventure that pays respect to all eras of science-fiction: from the borderline absurdity of the pulp era, to the campy melodrama of the 1960’s, through the trippy existentialism of the cosmic comic book renaissance.
One of the things that makes this series so special, what makes it stand apart from everything else on the stands, is that it doesn’t look or feel like any other book, and it seems to operate in its own comic book universe. To separate itself contextually, particularly in this All New All Different initiative, is no small feat. So many of Marvel’s comics seem to be setting the table for the properties’ treatment in other media – whether that be a video game, TV series, or Hollywood blockbuster. Or, even worse, some of the new series reflect said treatment through bland characterization and uninspired stories, as if they themselves were nothing more than licensed property spin-offs. It’s a little maddening. I want my comics to be the source material, not the other way around. But Silver Surfer doesn’t give a shit. Like it says on the masthead, Slott and Allred get to explore anywhere and everywhere – so hang on.
It’s not as if space books are immune to the machinations of Marvel’s media engine. Quite the contrary. Guardians of the Galaxy changed all that. The Kree Empire and its relation to the Inhumans is a focal part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; the next big movie push is centered around Thanos and the Infinity War. But even when the Surfer crosses paths with the Guardians, it’s not Star-Lord or Gamora that mixes it up, but Ben Grimm, the everlovin’ blue-eyed Thing. Slott and Allred know what they’re doing: this book is way more Jack Kirby than Jim Starlin, and — not to take anything away from Starlin or any of the fine cosmic books that are indebted to his work — way more fun as a result.
It might be a little hard for me to gauge how accessible this book is for new readers, as I’ve not only loved the first volume of this team’s work on Surfer, but I’ve also been a fan of Norrin Radd and his cosmic crises of conscience for decades. I’d like to think, however, that whether you’re being re-introduced to Dawn Greenwood, or meeting her for the first time, the dynamic of a lonely star-faring explorer teaming up with a precocious young lady from New England is still irresistibly endearing. I love the zany plots: the menace of culture-robbing aliens that kicks off the new series is fantastic. And no matter how often I see Mike and Laura Allred’s artwork, I never cease to be amazed by the expressive, fluid linework and vibrant color palette. But, in fact, it might be that Norrin-Dawn relationship that is the best thing about this series.
I dig a good case of sci-fi culture shock. The cantina scene is my favorite in the original Star Wars trilogy; I’d much rather hang out on Deep Space Nine than Federation HQ. Seeing the galaxy through Dawn’s eyes is a blast, but it’s only half the fun. The culture shock for this duo hits both ways, and Norrin’s re-examination of our home planet, both geographically and culturally, has given Surfer a charm that I hadn’t anticipated.
The Silver Surfer turns 50 this year, and I can’t think of a better group to host a party than these guys. We’re only two issues in, but this book already promises to be one of the absolute best things in Marvel’s All New All Different stable and one of the most entertaining series, from any publisher, in 2016.
First collection: Silver Surfer, Vol. 4: Citizen of Earth (August)