Across the Universe with Silver Surfer #1

Iconic but often cancelled, Norrin Radd makes a surprising return in Silver Surfer #1 from Dan Slott and Michael and Laura Allred. In a somewhat risky move, Slott reimagines Silver Surfer as a spacefaring traveler in a psychedelic universe of fun and adventure, abandoning the traditional themes of philosophic introspection that readers know this character for. This tonal shift is more in line with titles like She-Hulk, Doop and FF, whose focus on quirky characterizations breaks up the gloomy (and sometimes downright apocalyptic) nature of the rest of the Marvel Universe.

Free from big events and dark storylines, Silver Surfer and its ilk are better suited for casual readers who just want a good read without the complicated drama of interconnected plots. This title in particular also clearly draws from the well-trodden adventure structure of Doctor Who, giving Norrin a female companion to take on his latest galaxy-hopping adventure. This all but ensures a peppier Silver Surfer, no longer doomed to roam the infinite ocean of stars alone. But the question remains: Does it work?

SILVERSURFER1Light and breezy, this iteration of Silver Surfer still sees Norrin wandering the universe, committing good deeds to atone for the horrors he committed as the herald of Galactus, but with a few changes. He largely abandons his dour nature for a sunnier one, complete with snappier dialogue and an understated sense of humor. A seemingly normal excursion brings him to the Impericon, an impossible deep-space city bustling with thousands of alien races. He quickly learns that he has been taken there to stop the Queen of Nevers and save them from her bloody quest, as many other defenders before him.

Like those other defenders, the deceitful Incredulous Zed kidnaps the one person that Norrin cares for above all else to use as leverage in forcing him to complete the task. Zed then teleports a young Earth woman named Dawn to the Impericon to hold hostage. Left behind while her twin sister Eve travels the world, Dawn’s dreams of a life beyond her sleepy beach town remain unfilled by her job at her family’s bed and breakfast. However, she’s a total stranger to Norrin, who has no idea who she is or why she’s so important to him. So begin their adventures together.

As promised, Slott and the Allreds deliver a lighthearted comic adventure abounding with quippy dialogue and kaleidoscopic settings. Their collaboration establishes the perfect tone for this lighter, brighter Silver Surfer, taking Norrin’s search for redemption into far more hopeful territory. This may alienate some readers, but the choice to makes sense given the direction that Marvel has been trending toward with its secondary character titles. The imagery is fun and inviting, even if Michael Allred’s style tends to flatten the space a bit too much for my liking. There’s some missed opportunities to really explore the size and scope of space, which is such a critical component of this series and its aesthetics, with some pages coming off as cluttered. Even for it, Silver Surfer #1 is a cool read with a promising future ahead of it.

Magen Cubed –

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