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Advance Review: Silver Surfer #1

Dan Slott and Michael Allred deliver a new and lighter take on the Sentinel of the Skyways.

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Silver Surfer has long been one of my favorite characters. I have collected his adventures for the better part of three decades, and while the last few years have shown some strong mini-series, I was always hoping for the return of a monthly book. Imagine my excitement when it was announced Dan Slott, current Superior Spider-Man scribe and one of the best writers in comics, would be penning a new Silver Surfer ongoing.

That is why it is with a heavy heart that I must report that Silver Surfer #1 is a disappointment. I’m not sure what Dan Slott was going for here, but it misses the mark. Silver Surfer is supposed to be epic and melancholy, something along the lines of a great space opera. Slott has written what boils down to a Saturday morning cartoon. The pacing and dialogue is that on that level. Slott misses the cadence of Surfer, the almost Shakespearean speech that makes Norrin Radd such an interesting and serious character. To lessen that, as Slott has, makes Silver Surfer #1 read like a parody.

Plot-wise, Slott has come up with an interesting angle. An entire planet called The Impericon, one that is an endless city of mind-bending science and unnatural occurrences, is in need of a champion. A force called The Never Queen has been routinely trying to conquer The Impericon. Each time, the planet finds a champion who manages to hold off The Never Queen, but not before being killed.

The leader of The Impericon, an entity named The Incredulous Zed, asks Surfer to be their champion, not telling him that the planet will kidnap the most important person to the Surfer to make sure he does not renege on the deal. At the end, Zed and The Impericon choose a woman that Surfer does not recognize, though his connection to her is made clear to us in the opening pages.

While the story is solid, the approach to Silver Surfer is too goofy. The Incredulous Zed? A city that looks like it’s made of a thousand ring and whistle pops? The Never Queen? The entire issues smacks of the '60s era Captain America or Thor cartoons. This kind of reboot might work for Daredevil or Doctor Strange, but not Silver Surfer. Being only the first issue and having tremendous respect for Slott’s work, I won’t write off Silver Surfer completely, but if it continues down this road both thematically and with the same tone, it could be the first blemish on Slott’s resume.

As unhappy as I was with the writing, the truly egregious sin comes from Michael Alrred’s art. Again, Silver Surfer comes across like a bad cartoon. Surfer doesn’t look sleek and dynamic – he looks doughy. The other characters are sloppy, and there is a rushed look to the entire issue. It’s as if Allred was more focused on being funny than creating a good look for the series. Surfer books don’t work with art that looks like a cross between poor indie art and old Archie comics.

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(2 Story, 2 Art)