Get out your cosmic surfboard and a box of Kleenex! Our host Adam Graham takes a look at the end of the Silver Surfer and Dawn Greenwood’s travels together in Dan Slott and Mike and Laura Allred’s A Power Greater than Cosmic.
Welcome to the first episode of the Classy Comics Podcast. From Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham. You can send your comments to email@example.com. Now here on the Classy Comics Podcast, I’m in search of comics that I enjoy, which oftentimes will be classic comics from the 1940s and ’60s, and even into the 1970s. Though I’m not one to say that all modern comics are horrible – indeed there are some really good ones, particularly after the recent relaunch with the DC Rebirth line.
So this podcast will focus on my search for classy comics, and I’ll let you know whether I think it’s classy or not! And we’ll stick to one collection per episode. We generally do trades – that’s how I tend to read comics is in the trade editions which are more economical, plus there are a lot of comic book series now being written for the trades, with six-part story arcs or with a five-part story arc with a one-parter included.
So, our first trade will be Silver Surfer: A Power Greater than Cosmic. It’s Volume 5 of the Silver Surfer series by Dan Slott with art by Mike and Laura Allred. A brief backstory on these Silver Surfer and on the series in general. The Silver Surfer was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the 1960s. He was the herald of Galactus who came to inform the Earth that Galactus was coming and they’d be ready to meet their doom before the Devourer of Worlds. The Surfer ceased being Galactus’ herald and sided with the humans, earning himself exile to Earth for many years.
The character was given his first ongoing series in the 1960s. It was written by Stan Lee and the Surfer saved humanity from various problems, but always found himself pondering the problematic nature of human beings, their prejudice, etc. And the Surfer remained after that series was cancelled and earthbound character for decades. He was a very good supporting character for Marvel to have around. He was a guest star in many different series including Fantastic Four, and he was also a member of The Defenders for a time. He got his own ongoing series towards the end of the 1980s, logging more than 100 issues. These tended to be very much cosmic-based adventures as he interacted with beings such as Thanos. Since the end of that long series he’s had a lot of short series – not necessarily all mini-series but some that were labeled as Silver Surfer and canceled after a few ongoing issues.
He’s also been a guest star in, again, a lot of Marvel comic books. During Mark Wade’s very good run on Daredevil, he just had an issue with the Silver Surfer: just randomly showed up to guest star, wasn’t part of any plot arc or anything, it’s just the Silver Surfer in a way he’s often used in Marvel comics. Which brings us to the latest two Silver Surfer series. Dan Slott’s take on the Silver Surfer begins with Dawn Greenwood being kidnapped from her family’s inn in Maine, and taken into deep space by some aliens who believed that she was the most important person to the Silver Surfer, and the Silver Surfer’s reaction was essentially, “Who’s this?”
Subsequent to that though, Dawn decided to go traveling the universe with the Silver Surfer, and the series has a very, I would say, old-school Doctor Who feel to it. The adventures are set on imaginative worlds where the Silver Surfer shows up and defeats an evil, usually within an issue or maybe two. There were some longer arcs but those tended to be the exception rather than the rule. It was episodic and it was fun, and as the series went on, Dawn and the Surfer began to fall in love. And in many ways, this book is the culmination of that.
So, let’s go ahead and we’ll take a look at the issues in this book. It collects issues Seven through Fourteen of the latest series of Silver Surfer. I should mention that this series was rebooted, again retaining the same creative team because that’s something that Marvel just tends to do, is to restart a series with Number Ones. In the previous book, the Surfer had decided to reunite Dawn with her mother who had abandoned the family many years previously and it had not gone well at all.
So, as this book starts, the Surfer is taking Dawn once again into space, but he’s taking her to places like a bouncy planet to a planet with cute puppies, and finally she realizes he’s been taking her around the planets that are safe with no risk at all because after what happened with her mom he’s afraid to accidentally hurt her again. But she insists that she wants to take risks, that’s why you come out into space. You don’t come into space to play with puppies. So he takes her to a cosmic casino where people risk and can bet anything. In many ways, the idea of this casino actually calls to mind a Dr. Who audio drama. I wonder if it may have been an inspiration for Slott, but the realization here is totally original. As is usual with the Allred’s art, it’s very bright, vivid, imaginative, and there are a lot of fun scenes in there. One of my favorites is when Mephisto, one of the Marvel Universe’s evil, demonic figures actually loses a bet in the casino. The stakes do get very high for our heroes and they manage to win because they’re willing to take gambles. And there is a mysterious shadowy figure who suggests that wasn’t a lesson that they should have learned. It was a horrible lesson which, I don’t know, may have been speaking to the readers as well, but we find out later who the mysterious shadowy figure is. But this was a fun one.
Issue Eight finds them trapped in the belly of a space whale where there are a warring virus and antibodies that they need to keep in check in order to survive and to do so they tell a series of tall tales starring their imaginary tiny friend Herald. Again, this is just another really fun issue and there’s some beautiful foreshadowing at the end of that story that sets the stage for the actual end of the book and the series. In Issue Nine the Surfer and Dawn arrive on a world which is the fourth in its system – the other three have become environmental wastelands and they have solved all of their environmental problems by turning everyone on the planet into a solid light hologram. Unfortunately, the Surfer doesn’t find this out until when Dawn stated she had to use the restroom, they took her away instead and turned her into a solid light hologram and set her body to be composted. So the Surfer’s got to save her before it’s too late. This is a pretty good high concept story, not as fun as some of the other ones, but this one plays a key role in setting up the end of the series.
Issue Ten sees a reunion with Galactus who is no longer The Devourer of Worlds, but after an encounter with The Ultimates he has become The Life Bringer whose goal is to spread life and protect it throughout the universe. And he’s got a task for the Silver Surfer, in that two elements from his ship that supposedly caused the creation of the universe are coming closer together; and if these two elements touch it would mean the end of the universe. So, Dawn and the Silver Surfer actually take different ends of this and, she on the board and he himself travel to opposite ends of the universe so that the universe would get double its lifespan. However, after reaching the other end of the universe, the Surfer comes to a realization: it’s going to be awfully hard for him to get back to Dawn before she dies. This is a somewhat silly story that still serves to play up the romantic angle of the story as well as the somewhat odd cosmology of the Marvel Universe.
In Issue Eleven Dawn senses that her sister Eve is ready to give birth and so she and the Surfer set out for home, but before they can actually get home the Surfer has to deal with Warrior Zero who wants to fight the Surfer just for the sake of his own reputation. There’s a certain humor to this with Surfer just really wanting to get Warrior Zero to go away, though it has a tragic ending as they’re a little late getting back to Earth, and not only has the baby been born but someone’s died.
Issue Twelve deals with the aftermath of that as the Surfer and Dawn return to a planet they’d visited previously, Euphoria, as Dawn tries to deal with the death. It’s a really emotional story, it shows the strength of the Surfer’s bond with Dawn, and some real human issues being dealt with in deep space. It’s a really good, solid, emotional issue.
And that brings us to the finale: Issues Thirteen and Fourteen. To me, this feels like it was somewhat rushed in the timeline. One of the big challenges of the series was that Dan Slott the writer was always running behind because he’s writing for The Amazing Spider Man at the same time he’s doing Silver Surfer, and so this kept getting pushed back months and months. This particular trait was only supposed to be the first six issues, but unreliability of production probably meant that Slott had less issues to get this wrapped up. So, all of a sudden, Dawn wants to go back in time before her loved one died and to get a chance to say goodbye. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way as they actually end up traveling to the previous universe that Galactus came from and back in time, and so they have to live out the rest of their days forever – unless they risk upsetting Galactus’ time stream, having him recognize them in the future. But this also means the Surfer and Dawn have an entire new universe to explore.
I won’t go too much further into it because I’m already pretty heavily into some spoilers but I don’t want to spoil the end at all. This is a very emotional and imaginative final two-parter, and it serves as the capstone of a very beautiful cosmic love story that’s been building for thirty issues. And it’s full of sadness, some happy surprises, and just a very epic and beautiful conclusion. I know that there are some people who don’t like this take on the Silver Surfer, but I’ve found it to be a quite beautiful story, full of imagination and heart. And here Slott and the Allred’s give it an ending that it truly deserves. So, I recommend this book and also the whole series. I will give Silver Surfer a power greater than cosmic, a rating of Very Classy.
Well that’s all for now. We’ll try and keep our episodes to about ten minutes and certainly no longer than fifteen, so I’m glad we succeeded at that. In the meantime, send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, but from Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham, signing off.
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