What I thought of Silver Surfer #6

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Most of my reviews these days are over at That’s Not Current, but this issue of Marvel’s latest Silver Surfer comic is the 200th issue comic published by Marvel featuring the character. That in itself is an amazing act of comic geekery as the Surfer’s had some many appearances in so many titles, one-shots, mini-series over the years.

Created by Jack Kirby for his and Stan Lee’s run on the Fantastic Four back in 1966, The Surfer’s been primarily a cult figure since he enjoyed a short lived series written by Stan Lee (who effectively hijacked the character from Kirby who wanted to write and draw the series himself) and drawn by John Buscema in 1968. This latest series written by Dan Slott and drawn by Mike and Laura Allred teams the Surfer up with a human, Dawn Greenwood, as the pair have adventures now the Surfer has adopted Earth as his home.

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Slott takes a light-hearted, soap opera approach to the Surfer and Dawn’s relationship, which coming after nearly 50 years of Silver Surfer comics being crammed full of more angst than a Goth’s sock drawer.

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There’s two main plots in this issue. One is centred round Dawn meeting her mother to left her years ago, and the other sees the Surfer and Spider-Man team up to fight shape-shifting monsters.

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This is all good natured superheroic fun. There’s a bit of substance with Dawn’s plotline which takes an unexpected turn which then looks to be the driver for the series in the future however the fighting stuff is just there to pad the issue out. This is on the whole fun, but light.stuff which makes it stand out from the relentlessly grim tone of DC Comics, or their bland Rebirth books.

Silver Surfer #6 is perfectly decent, good stuff. The Allred’s art makes it look wonderful, but as anniversary issues go this isn’t one of the best Marvel’s published over the years yet this is a good title overall and worthy of your attention.

What I thought of Silver Surfer #1

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The Silver Surfer has been a character Marvel has tried to get to work in his own series multiple times over the years. From the Stan Lee/John Buscema/Jack Kirby series in the 1960’s, to various specials from Kirby and then John Byrne in the 70’s and early 80’s to the pretty successful and long running series in the late 80’s to the more recent attempts, the character has been attempted over and over. The problem is that although the Surfer is a massively popular character, he’s not really worked in his own series, not to mention as a character he’s so powerful the problem is having opponents to come up against him to create some form of drama.

This latest #1 from Marvel sees the Surfer return to Earth  with Dawn, the Earthgirl he was taking round the universe in the last series that existed pre-Secret Wars, after taking out an alien threat called the Horax, partly to stop them invading Earth and mainly to let Dawn phone home.

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From the off writer Dan Slott establishes a light tone, and the art of Mike and Laura Allred is as superb as it usually is. As for the Surfer he’s still the noble alien that Kirby and Lee wrote back in the 1960’s, but he’s a warmer character as we see as Dawn’s family celebrate her return, not to mention all the occasions they’ve missed. Plus the Surfer gets to see The Wizard of Oz with people for the first time.

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This bliss is ruined by all of humanity’s art and expression being stolen stolen by the returned Hordax so they can use the power of humanity’s imagination against the Surfer. Of course there’s a superhero battle which ends up in Dawn and the Surfer succeeding against the Horax while learning of a larger threat approaching.

Slott and Allred’s Silver Surfer is an easy, yet never simplistic read. It tells a tale that has a moral at the end of it and gets there in a hugely enjoyable way while trying to actually say something about humanity’s ability to create and live with art so it becomes more than just art. There’s nothing dark or grim about this comic either as Allred’s pop art inspired style jumps off the page at you as it invites you in to enjoy yourself, and that’s the thing about this comic. It’s enjoyable. It’s not going to live in the mind for long but it’s a fine example of how to tell an enjoyable, not to mention easily accessible, story.It’s fine stuff indeed!

What I thought of Miracleman Annual #1

 

Thoughts about #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11, #12 and #13.miracleman-annual1

 

Around 30 years ago Grant Morrison wrote a Kid Marvelman strip for Dez Skinn to appear in Warrior. It never got published and for years was thought long lost, until earlier this year when Marvel Comics editor-in-chief announced he’d spoken to Morrison and that Marvel were going to publish it along with the first all-new Miracleman material from Mike Allred and Pete Milligan for 20 years.

Now it’d be impossible to review this without mentioning that Alan Moore interview or indeed, the accusations (some true, some tenuous) of how Morrison hasn’t just followed in Moore’s footsteps, but has actively copied his style. These allegations simply are not going to go away nor will they after reading this story as it really does read like mid-80’s Alan Moore, though Joe Quesada (who has liberally adapted the script to spin out for longer than originally written, and I do like the Steranko-esque splash page) has tried to somehow tone that down, it still reads like Morrison doing Moore.

The story itself is set in 1966 and is a conversation between a priest and Kid Marvelman, who by this point has not turned back into Johnny Bates for three years and is in the process of generally becoming a total bastard. Also, Quesada draws Kid Marvelman to look like Grant Morrison and that’s a wee bit odd.

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Essentially Kid Marvelman returns to the place he landed after the British government tried to kill the Marvelman Family in 1963, and in this story, to the priest who saw him survive the blast to clean up some loose ends and panels that have captions that read like it’s 1986.

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It’s only a short story padded out by some nice storytelling from Quesada, but it’s not a terrible story, rather than an oddity brought back to life. It’s not going to add to the overall story as opposed to reading as it probably was which was to see if Morrison could ape Moore’s style enough to get himself a job writing Marvelman. On this evidence, he did a very good job copying Moore’s style.

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As for the new story by Milligan and Allred, it’s a charming little story done int he style of the 1950’s stories, but again, it’s slight for the first new Miracleman material for over 20 years.

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We do get to see Marvelman fighting some dolphins though.

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It’s got a nice Mick Anglo feel and a nice comment upon the trend for dark comics, but it’s fun and nothing more than that. It’s also telling Marvel haven’t used the Alan Moore updated version of Marvelman in this new story which does add to suspicion that perhaps there’s plans for that version after they finish the Neil Gaiman run,

As for the rest of the annual it’s made up of Morrison’s original script (rusty staples and all) and a comparison with what Quesada has done in padding the story out.

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It also becomes clear from the script that it’s not Quesada who decided to draw Kid Marvelman as Grant Morrison, but he’s only following Morrison’s instructions in the script and from a photo reference of Morrison himself from 1984.

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I’m sure they’ll be those putting a lot into Morrison dropping himself into a Kid Marvelman story, but creators have done it before where they drop themselves into a story, so it’s really not a huge issue even if it is odd in this case in retrospect. As for the annual, it’s thin picking for three quids worth of comics but it’s about worth it mainly because the Morrison story isn’t all bad even if it’s a Happy Shopper Alan Moore script, and the Milligan story is fun. Just don’t expect anything too revelatory on display here.