I have a lust for godlike power. Whenever someone asks me which superpower I want, I say, “To exist outside the third dimension.” Not only would that make me a god of time and space, it would probably come with every other superpower, as well as great abs. I would use these to awe worshippers and work from home while enjoying tributes of blood and virgins.
For me, this is the appeal of the Silver Surfer, one of the most almighty characters in comic books. (I also like his sleek, chromium look and faster-than-light speed space surfing.) He has been among my favorite superheroes since I was a kid, and now that the Surfer has a new ongoing series, I’m dorking out about it.
The last time the Surfer had his own book was 2003. It ended after 14 issues. But as of Wednesday, the Silver Surfer is back. His new book, written by Dan Slott (of Superior Spider-Man fame) and drawn by Mike Allred (of Madman fame), is very good, and it has re-sparked my comics enthusiasm, which died quietly in its sleep around 2004.
Mike Allred is the man, and his neo-pop, kind-of-acid-flashback art style is perfect for an over-the-top space opera featuring aliens named the Incredulous Zed. I hope that part of it is played up, and that it goes balls in on planetary romance and pulp adventure.
You could say Allred’s retro/cartoony style isn’t appropriate for the Silver Surfer, a somber character known for his philosophizing and intergalactically debilitating bouts of guilt. But Allred is a good choice. It makes the Silver Surfer more accessible and, most importantly, more fun. It’s like reading an Atomic Age sci-fi B movie. And the concept of a spaceman, in full-body bling, riding a surfboard through outer space is already ridiculous so why not go with it, at least a little?
Allred’s art also works for the story.
Slott is lightening the Silver Surfer. In the first issue, the Surfer plays the straight man to the absurdity of the Incredulous Zed, a three-eyed, two-mouthed alien that has brought the former Norrin Radd to a secret world called the Impericon. It’s a carnival planet with wacky, science-bending physics.
But the Silver Surfer’s heart isn’t gone. His past is referenced enough to make you aware that he abetted terrible things as the herald of Galactus, a cosmic being who eats worlds (in a literal way) while wearing a pink helmet with bunny ears. (It was the Surfer’s job to find worlds for Galactus to eat. Then, overcome by self-loathing, he quit and was exiled to Earth, the planet that prompted his quitting because he didn’t want Galactus to eat it.)
Slott has a venerated status because of his Spider-Man work, especially what he’s done with the Superior Spider-Man. It’s possible (and likely) that his take on the melancholic Surfer will offend traditionalists, but the direction of Silver Surfer No. 1 is hip and new, and there’s a lot of room to mold a better Surfer who satisfies on multiple levels.