I'm a huge comic nerd and have been for over 30 years. Of course I've known of the Silver Surfer for many years, but he just wasn't a character I was that interested in... he just seemed a little, well, lame. I read a few of his comics back in the early 90s and found his brooding angsty vibe a bit too edgy for its own good. My only recent experience with the Silver Surfer was with the second Fantastic Four movie and that certainly didn't help to adhere him close to my heart. However, over the past couple of years I've been hearing people raving about the recent Dan Slott and Michael Allred run so I thought I'd give the Surfer another chance and by gosh I'm glad I did.
Over the course of 29 issues Slott's Surfer takes us on quite the journey. He still carries the weight of the worlds he helped destroy with Galactus on his shoulders, but with the help of young human Dawn Greenwood, he realises he must move forward and make amends for his past misdeeds.
The Surfer and Dawn are perfect travel companions and as their friendship grows through the various adventures you find yourself rooting for this couple. You see sides of the Surfer that are rarely explored (at least in my experience from his cartoon show and frequent guest appearances in other comics) as he often 'Silvers Down' to talk about the existential crises he often faces; how can he enjoy life when he has led so many to their doom? It's not all serious though, the entire run has goofy humour and silliness galore as the Dr Who influence is placed front and centre. Cases in point: After performing a tonsillectomy we have our hero take Dawn to the universe's best ice cream parlour, take her on (frequent) bathroom breaks and keeping her constantly fed and watered.
One of the most interesting storylines sees the Surfer confront his past sins and the 6 billion survivors of the many worlds he led Galactus to destroy on a new planet called Newhaven. He knows he must atone for this and seeks to offer an apology and help the survivors, when Galactus arrives... hungry for more planets and souls. What follows reminds me of the most recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica, as the Silver Surfer and Dawn look for a new, safer home for the inhabitants of Newhaven, the space flotilla search for the Promised Land.
This arc is quite dramatic as Dawn realises the true nature of Surfers past but she forgives him and gets him to reflect on what little choice Galactus gave him, easing his conscience. After this drama, events seems to peater out and never quite achieve the sense of pathos I feel that it was striving for but it is an intriguing arc nonetheless as it offers the Surfer a redemptive arc and brings Dawn closer to Norrin Radd.
In the forth graphic novel Dawn and Norrin become a couple as Norrin chooses to save the culture of Earth from the Zenn-Lavians. It is a dramatic arc as Norrin understands what it is to be the last of your kind on an alien planet (much like Dr Who being the last Gallifrayan) as he is excommunicated from Zenn-La but is welcomed as a citizen of Earth. Dawn also meets her estranged mother but at her time of most need, Dawn is abandoned again. The forth graphic novel is full of high emotion and unresolved strands, showing how messy life can get.
For the final graphic novel collection, the Surfer and Dawn are very much in love and enjoying the different worlds. Dawn seeks high adventure and danger but it comes at a high cost when her father passes away whilst they are away on their escapades. Stricken by grief, they attempt to travel back in time but overshoot somewhat and end up at the birth of the current universe. As they are isolated, the Surfer creates a new world and spends his life with Dawn until she passes. Being immortal, he feigns growing older with her and it is here that the true moment of beauty and philosophy come into play; what does it mean to be human and what is the meaning of life?
To hammer home the gravitas of Dawn's passing, the Surfer must watch the new (current) worlds events unfold in front of him and not interfere in any way, lest he affect the timeline. This is all very wibbly wobbly time wimey stuff a la Dr Who.
Over the course of 5 graphic novels, 29 issues, Slott and the Allred’s have created a momentous story arc for the Silver Surfer that joins the pantheon of the greats. The art style complements the writing and whilst not as detailed as the super shiny muscular versions from the 90's, it shares much with the cartoony but heartfelt look and feel of much of the Marvel Now imprint, things like Howard the Duck, Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel.
This version of the character makes the Silver Surfer more relatable and likeable than ever before. Dawn Greenwood is an excellently realised character who brings the humanity out of the Zenn-Lavian and the storylines are similar in style to the Kirby/Lee run. More than anything Slott's Silver Surfer has amazing storylines that ring with pathos and humanity and deserve to be read. This may not be your dad's Silver Surfer but it's a brilliant one that deserves to be appreciated.