An artistic tour-de-force is interrupted by such trifling things as “plot” and “set-up”
Writer Dan Slott often has a knack for spicing up his stories by adding the best of Silver-Age sensibilities to modern plots. This has worked incredibly well through most of his Spider-Man run, letting characters wink at the readers with talk of “wheat cakes” while allowing his villains to hold up to today’s more menacing standards.
That combo platter of Silver-Age sensibilities and modern storytelling is also present in Silver Surfer #1 – but, strangely, to the detriment of the title.
Simply put, that balance feels off in this issue. From dialogue (“Impossible. My cosmic senses can detect any life in the universe. I’d know.”) to theme (There’s more world beyond my front door?) to plot (I can’t even begin to explain this one), much of this book feels like an issue pulled out of the 1970s.
And don’t get me wrong, that’s great. That’s exactly what I was expecting and hoping for from this book.
But those old-school sensibilities don’t jive with modern pacing. Far too much unnecessary plot is explained, eating away at too many pages. By the end of the issue, I simply don’t feel like anything of importance has happened.
It’s old-school pacing, but with fewer pages and fewer panels, so less happens. This issue is mostly prologue to the fun that the rest of this series promises to be, but the prologue is long. And it’s all gobbledygook.
And why would you want to fill so much of these pages with word balloons, when all they do is serve to cover up the beautiful art of Mike Allred?
Seriously though, let’s take an Allred detour for a second. He’s great. You know this. I know this. Everyone knows this. And he’s been great forever.
But did you see that double-page spread of The Impericon? If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and pick up this issue for that one spread alone. The Impericon is The Impossible Palace, the single greatest destination in the galaxy. And you know what? After seeing this illustration, I believe it.
At his absolute best, Allred evokes memories of masters like Jack Kirby. I don’t ever want Allred to leave space in his drawings after reading this issue. His worlds and aliens just speak to the utter imagination inherent in the comic book medium.
Allred’s images speak to a comic that moves at lightning-fast speeds and cares not for your gobbledygook. Slott’s script is trying to keep up.
There are hints that it’ll get there too. Dawn is a wonderful start to a character, and I’m already intrigued at her future adventures with the Surfer. It’s just too bad that they weren’t able to interact in this issue.
And while much of the plot is simply gibberish, I think Slott gets that; he just hasn’t allowed it to take a back seat to the fun that I’m sure is coming.
Dan Slott (W), Mike Allred (A) • Marvel Comics, $3.99, March 26, 2014