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Silver Surfer Annual #1 review: A star-studded triumph

A darkly beautiful character piece.

Ethan Sacks and André Lima Araújo
Price: Check on Amazon

From the inky black void of space comes a Silver Surfer. One, riding an elongated silver board that we all know well enough not to mock. One, whose grim message of destruction is singular and absolute. One, whose intentions are often good but futile in the path of the Devourer. One, clad in silver, cresting the dark and light colors of expansive dead space, who through the combined efforts of Sacks’ stunning narrative control and Araujo’s arresting color and line work has rarely, if ever, been brought to life this well.

Silver Surfer Annual #1 is a triumph.

Is it predictable? Yes. Have we explored the human side of The Silver Surfer enough at this point? Also, yes. Does any of that matter? Not by the issue’s stunningly stark and effective conclusion.

Credit: Marvel Comics

What’s it about? Well, balancing the weight of not just one world, but many, including his own, on his metallic fingertips we follow the Surfer as he attempts to do right in a duty that demands anything but – selecting alien worlds for destruction so that his may live. Until, he vexes, even for a moment on his place in all of this to a shocking, sad, and darkly fitting end.

Is it a meditation on the futility, the powerful alienation, of “just following orders”? Perhaps. Still then, it could be a hopeful piece about trying again and again to effect change some small way (which I personally prefer). Even still, it could be a cool sci-fi comic featuring some of Marvel’s best, cosmically powerful characters. No matter your interpretation, the issue delivers.

Sack writes with stark, effective elegance — “Once I was known as Norrin Radd, but throughout the cosmos I have come to be known by a different name…The Silver Surfer. It is a name that doesn’t inspire much singing of praises” — A kind of internal awareness for Norrin that establishes a significant amount of character in the short time we spend with him. Making his decisions, difficult, understandable, and still detestable, more interesting, weightier, all the better for an impacting single issue.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Accompanied by Araujo’s art, invoking the best of Moebius and contemporaries like Kilian Eng, the issue’s narrative walks a fine line between written and visual storytelling – settling into a comfortable middle ground that clips along perfectly between insectoid battles and deep space coasting. Striding, surfing, between spreads of deep blacks and blues, and punctuated by sharp oranges and yellows, the issue’s artistic language is wholly transcendent – reminiscent of Kirby but also unique and modern, fitting for the new and meditative story for today its trying to tell.

Maybe we know exactly where, at the issue’s shocking but fitting conclusion, the story goes from here. Maybe we don’t. Either way – its setup is clear, sharp and shiny silver, there is little left to do but wait for The Herald to deliver the message as he is so good at delivering as captured in this unique, prescient and harrowing character piece.

Silver Surfer Annual #1
Is it good?
Sack and Araujo leave you hanging in the void of space alongside the Surfer, begging for more, in the best of ways at the conclusion of this stunning cosmic story.
Sack's writing is straightforward but telling -- communicating much more character than an issue of this length could normally contain.
Araujo's art walks the perfect line between referential and unique, a bold direction for any future of the Surfer and his strange, horrible duty.
The ultimate point is muddled. Are they going for shock and awe or the conveyance of a real message? It's up to the reader as the hand-off is a bit clumsy.

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