01 August, 2008

Review: Essential Silver Surfer Vol. 1

A powerful extra- terrestrial being, exiled on Earth, struggles to gain acceptance from human society.

The Silver Surfer could easily be subtitled 'be careful what you wish for, you might just get it' and Norrin Radd (the alien who becomes the Silver Surfer) is a truly tragic character, brought low by his own hubris.

Radd lives on Zenn-La, a Huxley-esque, alien world, dominated by leisure. Radd dreams of adventure and with the arrival of Galactus - a cosmic being who dines on planets - Radd gets his chance.

Galactus spares Zenn-La in exchange for Radd's services as herald, and transforms Radd into the space-worthy Silver Surfer so that he can search the galaxy for uninhabited planets to satisfy his hunger.

When the Surfer runs low on planets and refuses to offer up Earth as a tasty treat, Galactus imprisons him on Earth, unable to return to Zenn-La or Shalla-Bal.

The script in this volume can be a bit hammy - Stan Lee drops lots of 'thous' and 'thees' and his ubiquitous aliteration - but John Buscema's earthy, muscular artwork more than makes up for it.
If only the colour pages of most of todays comics looked half as good as Buscema's black and white ones, which are dynamic and lyrical.

One cannot help but wonder at the incredible talent that Marvel had at its disposal in its early days. Buscema would have been a star in his own right, if he hadn't been in the company of the even greater talents of Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby.

The Silver Surfer is a decidedly downbeat hero. The reality of roughing it with the primitive Earthlings - who generally shun, shoot and loathe him by turns - is a far cry from Radd's dreams of adventure and he is constantly assailed by people wishing to use his awesome cosmic power for their own gain.

In fact, many episodes leave the Surfer alone and bereft, dreaming of the life and love he left behind, far away across the galaxy.