Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Silver Surfer 10, originally released March 12th, 2015.
“You never truly know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
Spencer: The Silver Surfer may not wear shoes — at least not when he’s “silvered up” — but that doesn’t make this old adage any less true for him. The citizens of Newhaven have every right to be mad at the Surfer, who, in many ways, is directly responsible for the destruction of their various homeworlds at the hand of his former master, Galactus, but it isn’t until they’re faced with the same horrific choice as he once was that they can truly begin to understand him. What happens once they do is one of the most inspiring, heroic comic book moments I’ve read in quite a while.
After failing to stop Galactus by “surfing the moon,” Norrin Radd just throws everything he has at the devourer of worlds, but it simply isn’t enough. The people of Newhaven are ready to evacuate, but then they hear the story of how Norrin once offered himself to Galactus in exchange for the safety of his homeworld. This sparks something, and one by one, each and every citizen of Newhaven offers themselves to Galactus to keep their planet safe.
It’s a stunning moment of sheer heroism — Norrin’s reverent “What noble souls” barely begins to do them justice. Not every planet Norrin and Dawn have visited has been friendly, but even before this moment writer Dan Slott went out of his way to paint the citizens of Newhaven as kind, welcoming people; this moment, though, shows that they are true heroes. Michael and Laura Allred’s art is always an essential component of Silver Surfer, but it’s an especially key one in selling this scene — the image of all these disparate races standing together in selfless harmony, their words literally echoing with power, is a sight to behold.
Unfortunately, Galactus says “no.” It’s the only moment in Silver Surfer 10 that I don’t fully buy — Galactus says that, with their planets gone, they have nothing to offer him, but why would the state of these peoples’ home worlds have any effect on their ability to be a Herald? It’s obvious that this denial is just a way to lead up to the ultimate sacrifice: Dawn Greenwood.
Realizing that Galactus has yet to eat Earth, Dawn offers herself as Herald, and Galactus accepts. It’s a horrifying, painful transformation that Norrin is powerless to stop, and his desperation leads to the issue’s most emotionally raw moment.
That’s a revelation that’s going to have lasting repercussions for quite a while to come. Love is an emotion that often irreversibly changes friendships as it is, but with this confession coming on the heels of Dawn learning Norrin’s past, it’s guaranteed to alter their dynamic down to its very core. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen, but Slott and the Allreds leave us a clue or two.
This scene comes later in the issue, once Dawn’s been rescued from Galactus, and it’s quite strange to see Dawn so battered and tired. After what she’s been through I can’t blame her, but still, Dawn has always been so upbeat and optimistic, so unflappable in the face of sure death and unfathomable cosmic events; to see her in such a state is rough, and speaks to how much she’s been through. Is Dawn’s state here due to the damage done by Galactus? Or is it more due to her mental state? Did she overhear Norrin’s confession, or does she just not want to return to Earth (or share Norrin with the citizens of Newhaven?) now that she’s essentially forgiven him? I’m not quite sure — it’s probably a mixture of all three — but what I do know is that Silver Surfer can’t move forward without reestablishing what Dawn and Norrin’s relationship will be from here on out.
I’m probably getting a bit ahead of myself with that speculation, though. With the Surfer powerless to rescue Dawn, it’s once again up to the people of Newhaven to save the day, which they do by completely evacuating their home and offering it to Galactus in exchange for Dawn’s freedom. In many ways it seems like a clean win — everybody lives and Surfer vows to find these people a new world — but Slott makes sure that we understand the full extent of what the citizens of Newhaven sacrificed.
Back in issue 8 we learned that the people of Newhaven erected these monuments to their fallen citizens and their extinct races, but now Galactus has wiped out even the memories of these people. It’s a steep price to pay — the past is vital and should never be forgotten — but I actually find it inspiring that the people of Newhaven are willing to protect the living over the memory of their fallen. That’s not a bad lesson to learn, all things considered.
I’m just as impressed, though, that these citizens were able to save, and eventually even trust, the Silver Surfer. They could have hated him forever and it probably would’ve been justified, but instead they empathized with him — each and every citizen of Newhaven found themselves in the same position Norrin once did and made the exact same decision. With that newfound empathy and understanding comes trust, but it also provides Norrin a chance for redemption — not only can he save these people whose worlds he helped destroy, but he can see that even “noble souls” can make the same decision he once did. I wonder if that will help ease his conscience — and perhaps more importantly, I wonder if Dawn’s been gifted with the same understanding as these citizens?
What do you think, Drew? Did you find the sheer heroism and unabashed over-the-top emotions of this issue as inspiring as I did? What do you think Norrin and Dawn’s relationship will be like going forward? Do you think Galactus poops? If so, how?
Drew: I’m not totally sure what a satisfactory answer to how someone poops would be, so I’m going to go with “gigantically.” As usual, he’s treated as a kind of elemental force here, but Allred takes extra care to emphasize just how big he really is. While much of that is accomplished by framing, Allred also cues us into the scale by giving Galactus all kinds of folds and wrinkles in his skin — details Allred wouldn’t include on a smaller form.
Because he’s so huge, those details are also huge, becoming almost grotesque. Intriguingly, this focus on his physical form makes him feel more human, even as his actions are decidedly inhuman.
Speaking of inhuman, I want to back up to the start of this issue, which had to address the cliffhanger of Norrin’s apparent death. In the wake of Superior Spider-Man, Slott has embraced his power to kill off beloved characters, threatening to do so with gleeful abandon. There was never any hint that Norrin’s “death” would have the staying power that Peter Parker’s did, but at least a part of me thought that Slott might have had something more up his sleeve than what amounts to a cheap trick for the purposes of goosing that cliffhanger. I suppose I’m more amused than bemused, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t think the solution would be so simple.
Of course, none of the other solutions in this issue are anything close to simple. All of Newhaven volunteers to sacrifice themselves to save their planet. Then Dawn does. Then Newhaven volunteers their planet to save Dawn. For me, that last one is actually the most noble. We’ve seen an entire group volunteer to risk life and limb to save a planet before (“Alright, I’m standing. Now we are all standing. You happy? A bunch of jackasses, standing in a circle.”), and we’ve certainly seen one person make that same sacrifice, but I don’t think I can recall ever seeing a group of people come together to give up something they love just to save a stranger. Those last glimpses of their planet that Spencer highlighted only emphasizes the enormity of that gesture.
Which is to say, Norrin would be in their debt, even if he hadn’t just admitted that he loves Dawn. Spencer, you’re absolutely right that this will fundamentally change their relationship, and I’m also with you on not knowing exactly how to read Dawn’s attitude at the end of the issue. All of your suggestions are solid, but I’ll add another: that she might have actually wanted the power cosmic. She never expresses as much, and is mostly in pain during the transformation, but maybe some part of her was excited to be on the same level as Norrin. I have to admit, I was kind of excited at that prospect myself. Heck, I was even pumped for the design Allred had for Dawn as a herald.
This is only stage one of her transformation, and while I suppose there was never a way Dawn could have anything other than ladybug spots, tying them in with Kirby Crackle is a clever twist I wouldn’t have thought of. Also, I absolutely love the color holds Laura Allred uses on the dots in the background — it’s such a simple change to a well-known effect, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t awesome (and allows for more dots without cluttering up the linework.
Man, even when its emotions are so high, this series never stops being whiz-bang fun. I’m hoping finding a new Newhaven will take long enough for Dawn to recover from whatever it is that’s sapping her energy now, so that she and Norrin can hash out their issues before arriving back at her doorstep. Then again, conjecture seems almost counterproductive with a creative team this good — not only will I like whatever comes, I’ll be totally surprised by it. So I guess it’s just a matter of waiting for the next issue…is it April yet?
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