Thursday, October 21, 2010

1987 - Silver Surfer

Silver Surfer #1-6
July – December 1987
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Marshall Rogers

While I enjoyed Stan Lee/John Buscema’s Silver Surfer series of the late 60s, I always felt the character was restrained and repetitive. The Silver Surfer belonged to space and by preventing him from getting back to it, the character lost his magic. Twenty years after his first ongoing series, the Silver Surfer got another ongoing series.

“It began when Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter asked me to do a SURFER book. I was pleased to be asked, but remembered that the character had been reserved for Editor Emeritus Stan Lee. Jim was clear in his response: the current Powers That Be had decided the Surfer could make the company money, and should.

So, if I were going to do the Surfer, I wanted to get him off Earth. He had been trapped here, denied the vastness of space, since his first epic in FF #48-50, and I felt that situation had long outlived its interest. For one thing, despite everyone's affection for the character and some good people giving it their all, he had never sold. The Surfer seemed like he ought to be great, but he wasn't. Nevertheless, I was told he had to stay on Earth.

So I wrote a #1 issue, and plotted two more, under that restriction. But I kept bugging Jim, and all of a sudden, for whatever reason, I got my way. The Surfer could fly free. That first issue was shelved and I started over with a new #1. That "earthbound" first issue later appeared as an "imaginary story" in Marvel Fanfare [Marvel Fanfare #51 with art by John Buscema].

In an interview with Englehart from Comic Feature #56:
“At that point it was going to be a 12-issue limited series taking place right before a graphic album that Stan and Keith Pollard were doing which would have gotten the Surfer off the Earth. My 12-part series with John Buscema would have been the last 12 adventures of the Surfer on Earth.”

There were delays and editorial issues that forced Buscema got frustrated with those delays and took on assignments on The Avengers and The Fantastic Four. That Stan Lee and Keith Pollard graphic novel was finally published in 1990.

Rather than having the Surfer mope around the globe and long for his long-lost love Shalla Bal, writer Steve Englehart freed the Silver Surfer from his Earthly prison in the first double-sized issue.

Englehart did a wonderful job juggling several main plot threads in the first six issues: the start of a new Kree/Skrull war; the Elders' conspiracy against Galactus; the Surfer's inability to resume his relationship with Shalla Bal; and the re-introduction of one of Englehart's favorite creations Mantis.

Marshall Rogers provided the coloured art as well as the series' pencils. Unfortunately, his colours seemed a bit unaturally bright with an almost highlighter colour feel. Tempering this criticism with the general poor quality of colouring during the 80s, this is a minor complaint. His pencils, however weren't as spectacular as his previous efforts on Batman and Dr. Strange.

Their Silver Surfer run balances the legacy of this character’s rich past while expanding his future. No longer confined to being a supporting character, Englehart established the Silver Surfer as a solid, lead character, a cosmic player.

1 comment:

  1. The first issue of that 87 Silver Surfer series was actually the first Silver Surfer comic i had ever read. Before then i knew more of the character then really about the character himself. I think along with ROM Spaceknight and Optimus Prime the Silver Surfer has this unwavering sense of nobility you just can't help but get into.
    Aside from that it was just an all around good story with how the FF helps him figure out how to get pass the barrier. Then he runs into Galactus who's about to kick his ass but ends up needing the Surfer to do him a big time solid. Good stuff from the 80's!



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