Silver Surfer #1 (Marvel Comics)

The Sentinel of the Spaceways soars again in a new, long overdue solo miniseries.

32 pgs. full color; $2.99
(W: Greg Pak; P: Stephen Segovia; I: Victor Olazaba; C: Wil Quintana)
 
My first thought when Marvel announced a new Silver Surfer miniseries was “It’s about damn time.” Marvel having spent the last five years competing with DC to see who glut the comic shop shelves with the most product every week, it disappointed me that, other than a pair of 2007 miniseries, the company continued to pass over the Sentinel of the Spaceways—a character who floated a 146-issue solo series in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, starred in his own weekly cartoon series, and got title billing in a big budget Marvel movie not four years ago—when characters with much spottier publishing histories (Hercules, Nova, Iron Fist) were getting some of Marvel’s best talent. See, the Silver Surfer and I go way back: back in 1991, picking up Jim Starlin and Ron Lim’s surprisingly mature Silver Surfer #50 kept me from leaving comic fandom by giving me a new title to scan the spinner rack for after my favorite comic at the time (Transformers—don’t laugh) came to a tragic end. Is a five-issue miniseries enough to sate my hunger for more of the Surfer’s cosmic adventures? Well, no, but I’ll take it.
 
The cover of Silver Surfer #1 promises “An all-new beginning!” and writer Greg Pak thankfully delivers with a story that, despite the Surfer’s role in the just-ended Chaos War crossover and about-to-start team book Annihilators, does not require a degree in Marvelology to understand. The issue kicks off with a five-page sequence that sums up the Surfer’s current life situation (back to being Galactus’ herald, but still wracked with the guilt that entails) before his wanderlust leads him back to Earth. When a pair of lovers in Mexico is unexpectedly attacked by a group of soldiers in battlesuits, the Surfer unleashes the Power Cosmic all over said soldiers’ sorry asses, which brings the attention of sexy super-scientist Suzie Endo (formerly known as Cybermancer, who Wikipedia kindly informs me was a member of ‘90s also-rans Force Works and has appeared recently in War Machine and Invincible Iron Man, not that that knowledge is necessary to understand her appearance here). Unfortunately for the Surfer, it also draws the attention of the High Evolutionary, a supervillain obsessed with genetic engineering whose arrival has some very unexpected consequences for our hero.
 
Pak is a writer I’ve had very mixed experiences with: his work on Incredible Hercules with co-writer Fred Van Lente numbers among the best comics I’ve ever read and his Planet Hulk and World War Hulk were solid superhero storytelling, but his more recent Incredible Hulk run did little for me and his Skaar: Son of Hulk run was frustratingly inconsistent. Silver Surfer finds Pak closer (but maybe a half-step behind) World War Hulk territory. In the intro, he does a good job of getting in the Surfer’s guilt-ridden head, and he gives penciller Stephen Segovia several chances to show off the character at his damn-near-omnipotent best. But the issue suffers a bit from “writing for the trade”-itis, with not quite enough meat in the issue to make for a satisfying chunk of reading by itself, and a little too much real estate is used on Endo without establishing her firmly enough as a character.
 
Stephen Segovia’s previous artwork (seen most prominently in Mighty Avengers and covers for Kevin Smith’s run on Green Hornet) always felt a little too beholden to Leinil Yu’s Secret Invasion-era style, but he comes into his own a bit more here. Part of that may be thanks to inker Victor Olazaba, who uses pools of black that fade out into fine crosshatching, giving the art a classic ‘90s Marvel look. (For fellow Surfer nuts, Segovia and Olazaba’s work wouldn’t look at all out of place as a fill-in during Scot Eaton’s run on the book.) There are some clunker panels here or there, but Segovia nails all of the action scenes, meaning most fans should be more than satisfied. My lone artistic complaint: he’s not shiny enough. Colorist Wil Quintana colors him a dull gunmetal gray, not the reflective, silvery sheen more typically used.
 
As far as current Marvel comics go, Silver Surfer #1 is fairly middle of the road. Given any other character, that might be cause for disappointment, but given Norrin Radd’s years of near silence, it’s good enough for me. | Jason Green
 
Click here for a preview of Silver Surfer #1 right here at PLAYBACK:stl.

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