Okay, so this was awesome.
As a part of the All-New Marvel Now! program, Silver Surfer kicked off with a new #1 this past April. The writer? Dan Slott, who is famous for the amazing number of Spider-Man comics he’s written since taking the reins of that title, infamous for killing Peter Parker and putting Doc Ock in control of his body, and critically acclaimed for making that concept work in the best-selling Superior Spider-Man. Slott’s love of Spidey (well-documented in his awesome response to a reader doubting his commitment to the character) is equaled – perhaps even eclipsed? – by his passion for Silver Surfer, who he’s said is the first character who got him into superhero comics. The art team is made up of husband/wife Michael and Laura Allred, who have had celebrates runs on books such as Madman, iZombie, FF, and other work that has garners nominations and wins from the Eisner’s, Harvey’s, Wizard, and more. Their funky, vibrant, retro, pop-art has one of the most distinct looks in comics, and their work in realizing Slott’s wacky story is astonishing.
The first issue re-introduces the Silver Surfer, Norrin Radd, to readers. He’s a benevolent alien who, as a formerly genocidal herald for Galactus, travels the universe in pursuit of heroics, even while he fully recognizes that even if he saves billions of lives, he’ll never redeem himself for what he’s done. It’s all very Angel, how he wears his guilt on his shoulder, self-aware of the futility of his quest for atonement. His story begins anew here, when he is contacted to save the Impericon – the greatest vacation destination in the galaxy to a degree you wouldn’t believe – from an all-powerful begins called the Never Queen who wants… well, more power.
As all this is going on, we’re introduced to Dawn and Eve, a pair of violet-haired twins who couldn’t be more different. Eve wants to see every place in the world there is to see, while Dawn is content to live in Anchor Bay, where she’s lived her whole life and which she considers the best place on Earth. So while she hosts guests in what she considers the greatest vacation destination on Earth – it’s the place where they originated the phrase Wish You Were Here and now have postcards with the slogan You Are Here – her storyline acts as a sort of microcosm to Surfer’s macro, considering he’s essentially at the Anchor Bay of the universe. The parallel is interesting, but the way the two independently interesting storylines converge is truly inspired, but you’ll have to get the comic for that!
The obvious comparison is Doctor Who, and the All-New Marvel Now one-shot that previewed this series was heavily on the Who-vibe, which made me worry that this would feel derivative. Dawn’s the Companion, Surfer acts as the guy who shows her how cool the Universe is, she adds the human elements, he shows her there’s more, etc etc. It’s all obviously been done, and the opening of this issue – while moving – features a little Dawn wishing upon a star that happens to be the surfer… and it all feels very Amy Pond. However, the speed at which Slott rips us away from the dull comfort of that expectation is amazing. Surfer’s past adds gravitas to an otherwise light, fun adventure, and the scope of it all, from Surfer’s power to the visuals of the universe, make this feel more like a jam-session in the form of a comic book than anything Who has ever done. The influence might be there, but it’s in the far distance, as Slott plays to the Allreds’ strengths (I mean, c’mon, look at that Impericon double-page spread!) and cuts loose. It’s fun, it’s funny, and it has the potential to make us feel – and that, you guys, is everything I look for in a comic.
PAT SHAND writes several monthly comics, and yet still lets several cats run his household. Visit him – and said cats – at patrickshand.tumblr.com.