Sunday, January 9, 2011

1988 - Silver Surfer: Parable

Silver Surfer: Parable
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Moebius

Silver Surfer: Parable was first published in the 4-colour comic book format (a special request by Moebius) as a two-part miniseries and then as a deluxe hardcover in December 1988. More recently, it’s been reprinted in a trade paperback in 1998.

This story came about when Stan Lee and Moebius met at the 1988 San Diego Comic Convention and had lunch. Stan proposed a stand-alone story and Moebius jumped at the opportunity.

About writing this story, Stan said in a interview in Marvel Age #71:
“They were very easy to write ... though ironically, they took about three times longer to write than normal -- I was such a nervous wreck about doing justice to the work!”

A starving Galactus returns to Earth, but is well aware of his vow not to consume the planet. However, he sets himself up as a God and tries to steer them towards self-destruction. A TV evangelist is more than happy to take up his cause and preaches Galactus’ message in hopes of setting himself up as his prophet.

The Silver Surfer, who had hoped to leave the human race behind to its self-inflicted misery, cannot sit back while all this is happens and takes action against Galactus.

About the story, Moebius had this to say in the Afterword of the Hardcover version:
“I found the story wonderful. It’s full of personal and philosophical considerations which I think are very, very interesting. It’s obviously something very close to Stan’s heart. It’s not all pretty and nice and shallow, like a lot of the usual super-hero stories. In fact, I found it a rather sad and dark story, but at the same time, it is cast in a different light.”

Stan Lee returns the Silver Surfer to his brooding, philosophical self, spending his time contemplating humans and their place in the universe. The Silver Surfer is a great vehicle as he serves as a unique observer of human kind, forcing us to look at ourselves in unique ways. While the dialog has the trademark Stan Lee-isms, the themes of Silver Surfer’s loneliness and frustration with human kind are wonderfully evoked. The story is simple enough and yet is surprisingly effective and thought provoking. What’s nice as well as, is that it’s just the Silver Surfer and no other super heroes.

Moebius adds a bit of Kirby-ese flair to his art work. His fluid art gives a real futuristic feel to the story. His bold colours and fine detailed line work are powerful as they are unique. Interestingly, he wanted to use the limited palette of the newsprint colour comics and saw it as a challenge to bring about the feelings and mood he wanted.

Moebius also chose to do the lettering, but I found his style to be distracting ad its legibility was a bit difficult. His take on it was simple and I can appreciate what he’s saying: “I don’t really understand how an artist can entrust something that is that important to a fired hand, no matter how good he may be. To me, it’s monstrous to have an important part of the look of page determined by an outsider.”

Seek out either the trade paperback or the hardcover as the issues’ poor paper quality really does the art and colour a disservice.

Here’s a sample of Moebius’ rough breakdowns from Stan’s plot. Moebius got a real kick out of using the Marvel Method to put this book together.

 And here's an unpublished page:

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