5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Nostalgic and escapist yes, but superb artwork.,
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This review is from: Essential Silver Surfer Volume 1 TPB: v. 1 (Paperback)
Well it's all here the whole first series of the Surfer's own comic, a mere 18 issues, although the first 7 issues were double sized, including the Badoon tale which I remember owning decades ago.
Starting with the origin issue expanding on the Fantastic Four tale of how Norrin Radd becomes the Silver Surfer a herald for the planet destroying giant Galactus in order to save Zenn-La, his home world, then becomes trapped on Earth. A tragic hero who is misunderstood throughout this entire series a point which contributed to its early demise.
The first proper tale is against the alien Badoon, a reptilian race who would come more to the forefront in other Marvel titles.
He meets his real nemesis in issue 3, Mephisto, the lord of Hell, as the Surfer's attempts to force people to live in peace could upset the balance of good and evil and reduce Mephisto's supply of souls. Then he is tricked by Loki into visiting Asgard and taking on Thor and the assembled Norse gods.
He befriends a scientist Al Harper who tries to help the Surfer escape from Earth but the Stranger's bomb kills Harper who knowingly sacrifices himself to defuse the bomb. Suffering from an abundance of mistrust and hatred he journeys into the future to see if the barrier is still there only to find he can now leave the Earth but it and his home planet have been savaged by the powerful mutant Overlord. After a few bouts with the Overlord the Surfer goes back in time to prevent the accident that led to this creation.
The Frankenstein tale is a strange one and quite weak, the villains looked more like the old X-Men foes Mastermind and Toad when I first saw them. Frankenstein creates not the archetypal monster but a duplicate of the Surfer who is dispatched eventually as he has not the Surfer's ingrained battle skills.
The series then moved from 40 page epics to normal 20 page comics with an absolutely brilliant tale that was planned as a 40 pager with Mephisto returning and resurrecting the Flying Dutchman, this has a particuarly good ending with Mephisto losing out on all fronts. The Surfer's love, Shalla-Bal appears in a tale where he tries to find peace in a South American village but the local dictator has other plans. Shalla-Bal is injured in the fight and the Surfer sends her home to be cured.
The series then kicks into full action with regular Marvel Universe characters appearing as the Abomination is brought back to Earth by witchcraft. Then an out of control robot is despatched. Spider-Man appears as again the Surfer's actions are misunderstood then as a counter-balance the next issue the Fantastic Four, especially the Human Torch fail to try and get the Surfer's help in the space race as he misunderstands the humans. Mephisto tries to use a kidnapped Shalla-Bal to get the Surfer to destroy SHIELD. He then places her inside SHIELD HQ to try and get the Surfer to kill her unintentionally. All the previous tales are superbly drawn by big John Buscema.
Jack Kirby fittingly takes over the pencils for the last issue when having had enough of humanity the Surfer is tricked by Maximus into attacking the Inhumans and ends up on the last panel deciding to take the battle to humanity. This he would have to do in guest slots in other comic magazines as the title was cancelled. It was nearly 2 decades before he had another chance at a solo comic.
You see a pattern forming here from very early on almost like the last scene of the original All Quiet on the Western Front, just as he reaches for the butterfly, but played out far too long. In the end it appears the constant chest beating about man's inhumanity could not be sustained much longer and the comic was cancelled at the right time for fond memories to remain. For that reason I can only give it 4 stars.
Now almost 40 years on you can see that cancellation was the right editorial choice at that time and has detracted nothing from the comic, it was still a pleasure re-reading these tales again.