Sunday, 7 September 2014

Silver Surfer, Volume 1: New Dawn Review (Dan Slott, Michael Allred)

Norrin Radd aka Silver Surfer, the loneliest, most tragic figure in the Marvel Universe. As Galactus the world-eater’s herald, the Surfer travels the cosmos for new worlds for his master to devour. Oh the pain! The misery! The angst!! 

Ehhhhh… nope - not anymore! Enter: the new, fun-loving All-New Silver Surfer! 

Norrin is no longer Galactus’ herald and spends his time saving planets instead of marking them for death, in order to make up for past transgressions. That’s right, in the same vein as the other All-New Marvel NOW! range, Silver Surfer joins Magneto, Black Widow and Loki as a former villain turned good - though actually he’s better as he was forced into doing what he did! 

In this first volume, Spider-Man writer Dan Slott and FF artist Michael Allred join forces to make the most entertaining, delightful version of Silver Surfer there’s ever been. Tonally it’s a bit like Doctor Who and who joins the Doctor on his adventures? A sassy lady friend - enter: Dawn Greenwood. 

Dawn’s a new creation who’s basically there to make Surfer a bit less distant to readers. She keeps him grounded in a metaphorical sense (they fly around everywhere on a magic board after all!) so he doesn’t get too much inside his own head and starts bewailing the lives he’s taken in the service of giant purple hat. 

In this inaugural volume, Norrin and Dawn are asked to save a giant planet-sized pleasure resort called the Impericon, and must face their worst fears at the hands of Nightmare. Without getting into spoilers, there are two main ideas driving this series. The first is the tagline: “Anywhere and Everywhere - Hang On!” and the second is the idea that everything is possible; and both are also the two story arcs in this book. Which is pretty damn ingenious! 

Actually, Dawn was the only weak link of the book. Her inclusion seems totally arbitrary and, out of nowhere, she’s thrown together with Norrin into a forced relationship - well, they’re not there yet but you know that’s on the cards. And the fact that she has a twin who went travelling around the world while she stayed home in Cape Cod because her dad’s B&B is the best place in the world, why leave? and THEN she goes to see the galaxy - the irony was just a wee bit overstated and kinda cheesy. 

But she has some good moments too like naming his board Toomie (after Surfer’s refrain “To me, my board!”) and the prison break scene was fun. She doesn’t know Norrin’s past yet so I’m sure that’ll put a damper on their burgeoning romance (“Why do they call you Harold, Norrin?”). I also like that the board is a character itself, like the magic carpet in Disney’s Aladdin. 

The Guardians of the Galaxy have a fun cameo as do Doctor Strange and Hulk, and Norrin’s interactions with them all made me sad that Marvel don’t own the film rights to Silver Surfer (damn you, Fox!) so we won’t get to see the Surfer/Hulk fight in this book on the big screen. 

Slott’s writing is great but Allred’s art makes this book for me. I’ve always enjoyed his work but his art in Silver Surfer is outstanding. At the 2013 Comic-Con when Marvel were unveiling all of their forthcoming titles, it was Allred’s cover of Silver Surfer #1 that had the most distinct look out of all of the comics on display. His Spidey-esque eyes are surprisingly expressive and his wife Laura’s colours, especially the use of blue, are a brilliant choice to make the Surfer stand out. 

There’s a stunning and ridiculously detailed splash page of the Impericon early on that looks like a tub of Lego bricks spilled out onto the page, and I loved how he chose to depict all possible futures in a single image: a toy monkey that smashes cymbals repeatedly! He draws the Guardians, Strange and Hulk really well too, so when he’s done on Surfer, I hope Marvel put him on any of those titles next! I could go on and on about Allred but I’ll leave it there - he and Laura are an incredible art team and their work on this book is exemplary. 

I love that there’s no distinction between writer and artist - both Dan Slott and Michael Allred are credited together as “storytellers”. And they did create a great story together. Their Silver Surfer is one of the must-read titles of the second wave of Marvel NOW! and might even be the best version of the character so far. It’s a really fun book with amazing art that’s definitely worth checking out if you enjoy superhero comics that don’t take themselves too seriously!

Silver Surfer, Volume 1: New Dawn

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