Silver Surfer 9

Alternating Currents: Silver Surfer 9, Drew and Spencer

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

Silver Surfer 3

silver surfer 3

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.
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Silver Surfer 15

silver surfer 15

Today, Shane Patrick and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 15, originally released November 25th, 2015.

wait, i'm not real

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

Silver Surfer 14

silver surfer 14

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.
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Guardians Team-Up 8

guardians team up 8Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Guardians Team-Up 8, originally released July 29th, 2015.

Spencer: The best writers know when to step aside and let their artist tell as much of the story as possible — “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” right? Of course, to do this, a writer must have trust in their artist to properly convey their story, and in the chaotic world of mainstream superhero comics, where there are sometimes fill-in artists or multiple artists on a single title, that kind of trust can often be a rare commodity. In light of that point, Guardians Team-Up 8 is even more impressive — Ray Fawkes and Bengal tell their one-off story without any words (until the last page), putting Bengal in charge of all the issue’s storytelling. While this issue isn’t without its faults, I’d call it a largely successful gambit. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 12

silver surfer 12

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

Silver Surfer 11

Alternating Currents: Silver Surfer 11, Drew and Spencer

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

Silver Surfer 10

silver surfer 10

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.”

Traditional

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

Silver Surfer 9

silver surfer 9

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Silver Surfer 9, originally released February 18th, 2015.

Patrick: As he’s about to take Galactus head on in combat, Silver Surfer recalls the story of David and Goliath. I love David and Goliath, mostly because of how its message has been muddled by the passage and time. We read that story now as a triumph of the little guy against immeasurable odds — which is a fine story to comfort us when we feel like we’re taking on the world. But the real story isn’t quite so comforting: David wasn’t an untrained kid with a slingshot stuffed in the back pocket of his overalls; he was a trained soldier, battle-hardened and armed with his weapon of choice. In slaying Goliath, David isn’t beating the odds, he’s fulfilling his potential. And that’s exactly what this issue of Silver Surfer does too: both in terms of narrative power and the power cosmic, Norin Radd gloriously achieves his potential. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 6

silver surfer 6

Today, Spencer and Suzanne are discussing Silver Surfer 6, originally released October 1st, 2014.

Spencer: You never really know someone until you live with them. I’ve never moved in with or married a significant other, but even just spending a few days rooming with friends on vacation in the past has tended to reveal entirely new sides of our personalities — most often, the annoying sides. That said, if you can work past whatever aggravating habits cohabitation may entail, then you’ll also be treated to all your roommate’s wonderful qualities, and possibly even a whole new perspective on the world. That’s the situation Norrin and Dawn find themselves facing in Silver Surfer 6. Norrin’s ill-prepared for his new companion’s many human frailties, but his annoyance is also blinding him to the many advantages Dawn’s “imperfections” have to offer. Continue reading