Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 9, originally released March 8th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: In this day and age, episodic storytelling isn’t particularly well-respected — particularly when the episodes might follow some kind of prescribed formula — but I think there’s a lot more value in formula than we tend to give credit. For one, long-gestating stories or deep character growth might not be the point of every story; sometimes you just want to see what new shenanigans Lucille Ball gets up to this week. But I think the bigger virtue of those episodic formulas is that they reflect the cycles in our everyday lives. Sure, audiences may not arrest a new criminal or annoy their spouse or teach an important life lesson to their kids every week, but the patterns are familiar enough (and cyclical enough) to reflect their lived experiences. I don’t mean to suggest that serialized stories can’t achieve this (honestly, I can’t think of a single example that doesn’t sit somewhere in between the abstract extremes of “episodic” and “serialized”), just that there are virtues to episodic storytelling that are often overlooked. Case in point: the formula of Silver Surfer 9 is undoubtedly familiar to longtime readers of this series, but with the formula as charming as it is, it’s hard to see that as a downside. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Silver Surfer 3, originally released April 13, 2016.
Patrick: Silver Surfer has a puzzling relationship with the concept of “history.” I suppose we should expect no less from a character that can get caught in infinite time loops and regularly has a role in actively remaking reality. But he’s also just a strange character to consider from a meta-fictional standpoint: a villain-turned-hero whose whole shtick reads like a crummy Beach Boys B-side. There’s a weird mix of highfalutin science fiction mumbo-jumbo and campy comic book irreverence built into the character’s DNA. Was he the herald of planet-devouring mega-monster? Sure, but his last name is also Radd. Dan Slott and Michael Allred use the occasion of Silver Surfer’s 50th anniversary to celebrate the character’s duality and challenge the comic book industry’s penchant for rebooting their worlds and characters. Continue reading →
Today, Shane Patrick and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 15, originally released November 25th, 2015.
Patrick: Why do reboots matter so much to us? The characters we’re reading about aren’t — in the strictest sense — real. The only thing that’s ever real about them are our feelings toward them. And those feelings never need to go away, even as the very qualities that made us fall in love with characters in the first place are retconned out of existence. Silver Surfer 15 tackles this notion literally, as Dawn has to chose between an idealized world based on all the wonderful things she remembers and a scary new world with limitless possibilities for change. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Silver Surfer 14, originally released September 2nd, 2015.
Spencer: It took me a while to realize this, but one of the major reasons why I’ve always loved superheroes so much is because they represent a world where people can stand up to injustice, inequality, and bullies, and make a tangible difference for the better. That’s something I long for, and I’ll admit that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I’d do to reshape society if I had god-like powers. But what looks good in a fantasy — or even on the comics page — doesn’t always go as planned in real life. That’s exactly what Norrin and Dawn discover in Dan Slott and Michael & Laura Allred’s Silver Surfer 14, where their attempts to rebuild the universe to their own specifications instead of exactly as it once was could result in major repercussions. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Silver Surfer 12, originally released June 10th, 2015.
Spencer: “Consent” is a word I didn’t hear much as a teenager, unless it involved waivers or some other sort of legal document. While I was (thankfully) taught from a young age never to make somebody do something that would make them uncomfortable, the concept never had a name, and that’s a shame, because there are very few ventures where waiting to get consent before proceeding is ever a bad idea — especially when it comes to sex and relationships. Dan Slott and Michael & Laura Allred’s Silver Surfer 12 emphasizes the importance of consent by featuring an entire planet that, despite having the best of intentions, needs to learn a serious lesson on the subject. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 11, originally released April 29th, 2015.
Drew: I both love and hate that Birdman was shot the way it was. I love that it uses the single-shot effect to such awe-inspiring ends, but hate that it feels so gimmicky. I want to be clear there: it’s not that I think it is gimmicky, just that it feels gimmicky. The conversation is so often about how Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki achieved those effects (or even just that they achieved them at all), that reason why they did it often goes unaddressed. That this kind of formal affectation might have an unnoticed thematic justification speaks to the low regard we have for form — we only notice it when its weird, and then only to comment on how weird it is. That low regard makes formal outliers all the more daring — will they be known for their reasoned narrative choices, or will they be dismissed as a vehicle for the most unusual of those choices? With Silver Surfer 11, Dan Slott and Michael Allred attempt an even more convoluted formal trick, but its rewards are well worth the challenges it poses to the reader. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
Today, Greg and Suzanne are discussing Silver Surfer 3, originally released June 18th, 2014.
Greg: I’m just gonna be blunt and cheesy up-top: the human imagination is a goddamn beautiful thing. It’s a place where everything and nothing exists and doesn’t exist. A breeding ground for active creation and idle daydreaming. It’s arguably the most fun thing about being a human, and by combining heady intellectual concepts of quantum physics with a simple yet emotionally grounded narrative drive (combined with a healthy amount of “call the unusual thing out” humor), Silver Surfer 3 is one of the purest encapsulations of imagination I have seen in recent memory.
Today, Scott and Suzanne are discussing Silver Surfer 2, originally released April 30th, 2014.
Wishes are powerful things, Herald. Especially if you believe in them. They might just become your future.
The Never Queen
Scott: Like any kid, I spent many summer nights gazing up at the sky, hoping to see a shooting star that would grant me a wish. I don’t remember what any of those wishes were, but at the time nothing seemed more important. Now, I see making wishes as an exercise in picturing happiness, with each wish a snapshot of our greatest desire, constantly changing as we mature and our senses of reality take shape. Eventually, our sense of wonder fades away to the point that wishes no longer carry much weight. For that reason, it’s dangerous to base a story around the power of wishes — most readers no longer believe in them. While comic books often ask us to suspend our disbelief, this is like asking us to re-believe in a part of us that we’ve lost. Silver Surfer 2 focuses on the power of wishes, and while it isn’t seamless, it does bring with it an irresistible sense of wonder, the same one I had as a kid gazing at the stars.
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Silver Surfer 1, originally released March 26th, 2014.
Taylor: Surfer’s have always had a pretty bogus rap around popular culture. We tend to think of them as west coast bums who have forgone any responsibility in their endless pursuit of the perfect wave. It’s an unfair stereotype and one that fails to acknowledge the deep community and thoughtful demeanor of a lot of surfers out there. Similarly, the Silver Surfer has struggled with his one reputation. Once the harbinger of doom for Galactus, the Silver Surfer now spends his days trying to make up for a past life of wrongdoing. His reputation is poor but maybe with enough good deeds he can change the way others look at him… and perhaps change the universe as well.