Mike Allred illustrates a knockout issue of Silver Surfer, but I’m not sure if the story’s pacing can keep up.
Silver Surfer was my most anticipated All-New Marvel Now! title, and five issues in, it continues to be an excellent ride with lots of fun and craziness. This latest issue finds us where issue four left off at the Greenwood In in Massachusetts, and Norinn Radd is all primed to fly out into space. For some unknown reason he can’t leave, and this creates an uncharacteristically irritable and demanding hero that loses all the compassion and kindness we’ve seen throughout the previous issues. I’m not sure if this irritation is meant to highlight the severity of the situation, but yelling at Dawn felt uncalled for. Fortunately for everyone involved, after the first few pages the irritation levels drop and we get our cool-as-a-cucumber Surfer back.
The main story kicks off with the entrance of Doctor Strange and the Hulk, who explain that the whole world is asleep and experiencing a nightmare. Not the worst tale to tell, but the way it was introduced made it read like it was plucked out of nowhere. Is this happening in another Doctor Strange/Hulk book I’m not reading? If so, an editor’s note would be nice. If not, the book’s pacing did a poor job of building up momentum and higher stakes before saying the Lord of Nightmares was causing trouble and these former Defenders were going to do something about it.
The rest of the book follows a somewhat predictable but fun trajectory, with Doctor Strange and the Hulk fighting off nightmarish baddies while Dawn and Silver Surfer track down Shuma Gorath, the Lord of Nightmares, who is also asleep and unaware of his evil actions. Throughout the issue I enjoyed the witty banter between the teams, and Mike Allred’s action scenes really shine through as the Hulk does a lot of smashing. There are some panels where Big Green looks like he’s lifted straight from a Jack Kirby page, and it’s a joy to see everyone flying around and punching stuff.
In addition to being launched into this story without context, at times the book felt like it was being presented through a strobe light; we see a lot of action, then we turn the page to see different action without an idea of how we got there. This may be explained away by the fact that the characters are experiencing a nightmare and can jump from one scene to another easily, but to this reader it felt more like an attempt to squeeze a lot of bold ideas into a single issue. If we could see this story developed over two issues it might have felt a lot more natural.
Despite this, Allred’s art is a knockout in every panel. In addition to portraying an epic and badass Hulk, his Doctor Strange exudes charm and wisdom. Each action scene is powerful, and regardless of a lot of magic and tentacle things crawling around every detail is clear and bold. Combined with Laura Allred’s fantastic coloring, the artwork here feels timeless and fun for fans of every era of comics.
The book wraps up with a genuine heartfelt moment between Dawn and her sister Eve as Dawn decides to surf off with Norinn. Now we can get to the good stuff: space! I can’t say for certain that the events in this issue were wholly necessary as the Surfer was about to head into space at the end of issue four anyway, but it provides a quick story that’s fun, brings in a few of our favorite characters, and provides a bit more background for Dawn to join in on this journey. I can’t argue with this degree of fun too much!
The Verdict: 8.0/10