In order to help save the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Silver Surfer read How to Sacrifice Yourself Like a Hero for Dummies and fell into a black hole so his friends could escape the Black Order.
The previous issue left off with Silver Surfer encountering Knull, Donny Cates’s very ’90s-esque god of the symbiotes. Comic writers have a tendency to carry over their creations to all their books. Now we get twenty pages of combat. Yippee.
Herein lies the tragedy of sites like this: you get a perfectly good writer like Robyn Montgomery to heap praises on the first issue…only for me, Mr. Scrooge, to poop on the party. Be forewarned: if you liked the first issue, you’ll probably like this one and you should go ahead and buy it. But if you’re still here–take the time to listen to me whine.
While the first issue was clunky and would have functioned a lot better as a mostly silent issue, it capitalized on the Surfer feeling guilty. He’s got incredible amounts of power that he’s used to help Galactus commit multiple genocides–but now he’s had enough. With mentions of “tachyons” and having Surfer rebuild himself after immense damage, it was clear Cates fashioned his hero as a Dr. Manhattan look-alike. For some inexplicable reason, Cates ignores this character setup and defaults to mindless action.
“But Alex,” I can see you typing. “The first page has the Surfer recalling the destruction of planets at Galactus’s hands.” Yes…but it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s not development or digging deeper. SS just thinks of how beautiful the planets looked as they blew up then quickly thinks back to the symbiote planet. In fact, his Galactus memory’s inclusion is awkward because it’s given so little focus.
One could argue the theme of guilt/redemption is brought up subtly with the use of Surfer’s blackening hand. The more energy he uses, the pricier the cost. We ended #1 with his hand, now it’s his arm. While that is some nice symbolism, it’s not as concrete or thoughtful as an actual examination of the protagonist’s character. This all reminds me of Princess Mononoke‘s similarly limp metaphor with Ashitaka’s arm enveloped in “hate.” Yes, their bodies are afflicted, but that doesn’t directly correlate to their minds, which are not hateful. Maybe I’m wrong, but this issue is muddled to begin with.
If you’ve stuck around Venom and enjoyed Knull there, you’ll likely find his inclusion here fun. While the concept of a symbiote god is pretty sweet…why does their leader have to be so cliché? He’s not given any clever or sweeping plan, so all he does is blast energy and spout lines like: “DARKNESS IS THE TRUTH! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS? IT MEANS I AM THE GOD OF IT ALL.” Far more generic are Knull’s constant taunts about Surfer fly, fly, flying away as fast as he can. Not to mention his constant screams of “NO! YOU DARE?” This issue ends on a possible note of hope for Surfer in his battle, but I’m not invested in seeing how it plays out if Knull is this tepid.
Tradd Moore keeps finding a way to invest his gorgeous art into subpar projects. First it was The New World, now this. Moore has ingested the fashion and freakish fluidity of Moebius’s collaborations with Alejandro Jodorowsky and funneled them into Marvel bombast. Perspective is taken to its utmost extremes and monstrous textures are given immense detail on par with Frank Quitely. Yes, the action is numbing in a story capacity, but Moore makes them fetching affairs.
“If you read any of my work you can tell I’m a child of the ’90s,” said Donny Cates in an interview with SYFY. But that’s not admirable when Cates doesn’t move beyond the bad, gimmicky stories that plagued that excessive decade. Silver Surfer Black’s potential is squandered for clichés.