on 13 March 2013
UPDATE: Do not read this review if you're a particular fat oaf who's almost sixty years old, never had a girlfriend and is still living at home with his mum. Like a total loser!!!
Originally released in 1988 as two issues of a regular sized American format four colour comic book, this hardback edition of Marvel Universe co-creater Stan Lee and legendary French Bande Dessinee (?) artist, Jean (Moebius) Giraud's Silver Surfer: Parable is excellent value for money.
Included within are a foreword from Stan Lee and several chapters on the artistic process by Moebius including unseen pencilled pages, sketches and layouts as well as some words on Moebius' decision to letter the strip himself which seems to have upset some people quite a lot...
Anyway, this was my first introduction to Moebius's work proper. Back in the mid-1980s, I'd already seen the Marvel/Epic line of Airtight Garage tales and found them to be beautifully drawn but less involving to read due to their hippy dippy/futuristic/spiritual science fiction plots and settings so when Parable was announced, I was more than intrigued and absolutely gasping to see how this amazing artist would handle the Sentinel of the Spaceways.
And I was not disappointed, either! Essentially a non-continuity tale, much like 1978's Stan Lee & Jack Kirby's Silver Surfer: The Ultimate Cosmic Experience graphic novel, we see the Surfer where he should be, trapped on Earth by Galactus' cosmic barrier (I refer you to Fantastic Four vol.1, #'s 48 to 50 for background info on this, where the character first appeared, the herald to Galactus, Devourer of Planets), bedecked in rags and living on the streets of what appears to be Los Angeles, amongst humans, seemingly having given up exploring his reluctantly adopted new homeland until Galactus reappears once more and humanity begins to wreak havoc in his name.
Inspired by Elyna, the sister of an opportunistic TV evanagelist with a funky line in ceremonial wear seeking to cash in on the Space God, the Surfer risks rejection and alienation by taking on his former master (Galactus) on behalf of the human race and..... you'll just have to splash out on this fine volume to see how it all works out.
Personally, I loved the artwork in this volume. Some misguided saps who hate the lettering style here and even the rendering of the Surfer himself and claim this would've been better off drawn by John Buscema (great artist but this is the House of Ideas) miss the point entirely; check out the almost chiselled concrete like visage of Galactus in the second half of the tale - incredible! Moebius' art being very loose and uncharacterically cartoony on the whole in this solitary Marvel Universe* but the late great Moebius knows when to drop in some highly skilled rendering in order to ground the story in reality in order to sell the whole scenario more effectively to the reader and so on.
Also, Stan Lee's dialogue here unusually at this stage in his absence in writing a monthly title, is absolutely masterful; verging on poetry in places. I'm a sucker for a classic line of dialogue and this book's got 'em in spades. The ending then, is very sad indeed but very much makes bittersweet sense and is very much in keeping with the unrequited, self-denial, self-sacrificing nature of the Surfer as seen in his previous appearances in the Lee & Kirby Fantastic Fours where he would return over and over and in his own title in the late 1960s by Stan Lee and the aforementioned John Buscema.
For myself, this volume is about mid-point in my very own personal list of top ten comics I'd ever take if I were stranded on a desert island for any length of time as I find it such an uplifting, positive and inspiring read and continue to do so after twenty five years of constant re-reading.
So, very much highly recommended and if you've read any of my other reviews here on Amazon, you'll see I'm not easily given to casual praise for any old rubbish!
The Silver Ronno.