In the middle of Marvel Legacy, the publisher’s latest shake-up of the existing titles around, Dan Slott’s acclaimed Silver Surfer title is coming to an end. Does Norrin Rad ride off into the sunset or is quality compromised? Join us for an in-depth look into the final glimpse of Dan Slott, Michael and Laura Allred’s beloved Silver Surfer run.
Silver Surfer #14
Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Michael Allred
Colored by Laura Allred
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
Reviewed by Alexander Jones
Somewhere along the past couple months, I lost track of Dan Slott and Michael Allred’s Silver Surfer series–don’t make the same mistake I did.
The last few installments of Silver Surfer have been absolutely heartbreaking, bringing an absurd range of emotional depth to the last couple years of stories, culminating a couple of nice reveals Slott has been hiding in the story since day one. Considering the huge emotional climax of the past few chapters, Silver Surfer #14 reads like an epilogue putting the cherry on top of all the wonderful ideas the creative team has been hiding for years. The ongoing continues to match tonally with the past couple issues, which seems in-step with the dreary tone of the cover. The creative team continues to is also perfectly in-sync with one another as Slott’s last entry into the series goes grand on an epic space-faring scale. We see the Surfer go to the depths of the Universe trying to cope with a heart ripped into shreds. While the content of the story itself is bleak, Slott and artist Michael Allred serve the whole thing with a massive smile stricken across their faces, giving the issue a wonderful sense of cognitive dissonance. A big part of this is just how beautiful and wide-eyed lots of Allred’s figures are, but I can’t imagine that the writer didn’t have the idea in mind before he finished off the story.
The plot of this story gets huge, to the point where only the emotion in the narrative is definitively clear in the last couple of pages. Thankfully, Slott spells out most of the sweeping plot points in the issue in language that is comprehensive. The middle of the story flirts with dangerous and damning concepts which could have been outright creepy, but the emotional context and last few scenes of the story really punctuate this moment with a deep, profound sadness readers will no doubt feel when they think of the book.
Considering how the series started and the smiles lacing the cover, Slott and company have progressed a long way over the past couple installments to make this issue even feel like it was coming to an end. After missing a few deadlines and not being able to really deliver on the series anniversary issue with last year’s Silver Surfer #3, the title has made a massive comeback here in just a few short issues.
Allred’s art retains the steep beauty and intrigue lacing the entire series. Both Laura and Michael Allred are able to deliver perfectly on Slott’s vision and making the big ideas seem even bigger in this comic. The ode to the Jack Kirby-styled machinery is a great shoutout to the series and the perfect way for the story to honor the king in its final issue. The direct Kirby references don’t even stop there with lots of the big Marvel Gods coming out to celebrate this final hurrah of the Surfer. All the figures in this title look so strange and otherworldly and when the Allred’s transition into normal figures, they still capture that strong sense of otherworldliness. One of the aspects of this particular installment setting it apart from the others is the odd blend of the grounded nature of the chapter versus the cosmic section the title. The Allred’s combine both aspects of the book into a beautiful splash page late in the issue.
Even with a few false starts and odd stories, Slott and the Allred’s bring their Silver Surfer epic home here in a really big way. Getting to know the couple’s dynamic in this story and seeing Norrin’s relationship with Dawn grow so intimate has been beautiful. There’s something here also to be said about endings in comics and television. This finale hits on a similar Doctor Who episode where the companion gets an ending and is able to live out their last days happily ever after. With this slightly ominous and bittersweet resolution that returns Silver Surfer back-to-basics, Slott and Allred’s vision of this superhero feels complete.
Verdict: Buy. Even as a lapsed fan, Silver Surfer elicited a strong emotional response–if you quit reading the run early, make sure to circle back to the end!
Black Panther #166
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Illustrated by Leonard Kirk
Colored by Laura Martin
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
Reviewed by AJ Frost
“There is no manual for the aspiring gods…”
How does one fashion a Black Panther comic without the titular character appearing except for a brief cameo? And how does one write a comic where the main mechanisms of story transmission and development—characters talking to another, namely, but also breakaway moments of inner reflections—are noticeably absent? There is something incredibly daring about approaching a comic this way and the results could be catastrophic in the hands of people who don’t know where they’re doing. Luckily for us, the first Legacy outing of Black Panther (in this 166th issue) is under the watchful stewardship of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and he brings a vital experimentation to a mainstream Marvel outing in indelible ways that I am still trying to wrap my head around.
The plot for this issue is extremely straightforward and ready to make a point. The story follows the inner machinations and motivations of Ulysses Klaue aka Klaw, the classic enemy of Black Panther. This is a story entirely from his perspective and, thus, readers are presented with the immediate trap of empathizing with a maniacal psychopath. The deeds of Klaw contained herein aren’t the most heinous nor are they the most disturbing pieces of criminal doing, but Coates nonetheless uses this space to introduce an alternative outlook and what makes a character, even a super-villain and “New God,” operate in the world the way they do. Nothing can be done in isolation and no one is immune from empathy.
Coates’ writing here is sparse, as sparse as I’ve seen from Marvel, where the voice of Klaw overlays his fantastical deeds of obtaining the precious Wakandan resource of vibranium to power his suit and his plans for domination and subjugation. Interspersed between Klaw’s sonic attacks of terrifying, destructive power and anti-Wakandan violence, he seems to be having pleasant, one-sided conversation with his probably-lobotomized and mute sister. This juxtaposition of presenting a character’s early memories that happen to be affecting actions of the comic present is an interesting way of using the medium; Coates keeps his writing sharp so that Kirk can expand it exponentially. Coates’ spartanly-crafted sentences work harmoniously with Leonard Kirk’s grandiose renderings of sound and fury. Kirk, in his first assignment with Black Panther, does admirable work of creating big scenes out of nuanced lines. The interplay between writer and artist is done with much consideration to taste and open space.
This is a great issue of Black Panther, and while we don’t see the hero appear until the end, we know that all the time leading up to clash between Klaw and BP will be worth the set-up. Klaw’s collected sociopathy is tangible from the first panel, and though there isn’t catharsis to his deeds in this issue, I sense that something truly special will happen in upcoming weeks.
Final Verdict: BUY
Join us next week for Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America!
Fruit snack aficionado. @AlexandComics