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Silver Surfer from Dan Slott and Michael Allred has been a fun ride. Most of the previous volume (before the post-Secret Wars relaunch) was set in space and featured a nice mix of intriguing adventures and philosophical musings about morality. Silver Surfer #5 of volume 7, which still features Slott and Allred, has shown the first signs of the series sputtering. Slott and Allred have set the new series more on Earth. While that has had its own fun spin and Silver Surfer #5 has enjoyable moments, it lacks much dramatic punch.
In the last arc of Silver Surfer, Shalla Ba, the former lover of Surfer/Norrin Radd from Zenn-La, tried to usurp all of Earth’s culture. The Silver Surfer saved Earth but only by destroying all trace of Zenn-La’s culture. Now the Surfer is a hero all over the Earth, but he feels an inner sadness because there is nothing left of his home world. He travels to the moon to find Uatu the Watcher, hoping that he would have some memory of his planet. However, he finds out that Uatu has been killed. Furthermore, Uatu’s killer is now the Watcher. Ultimately, the Surfer realizes he must make a home on Earth now that Zenn-La is gone.
I thought that the Silver Surfer arc about Zenn-La trying to steal all of Earth’s culture was very inventive and enjoyable. Perhaps Silver Surfer #5 is simply a palette-cleanser type of issue. However, it doesn’t have the same feeling of importance and overall comes across as filler. While the Surfer’s internal struggle with the consequences of destroying Zenn-La’s culture and all record of it is engaging, there is a lot of Dawn Greenwood, her family, and her small Massachusetts town. It’s not that this stuff is bad, but it’s a bit bland in comparison.
I don’t think Dawn is inherently a bad character, but she doesn’t feel especially deep or complex. I have enjoyed some of her moments, but she suffers a little from being portrayed as a “nice person.” In the space-based stories, Slott nicely contrasted her small-town girl vibe with extraterrestrials and fantastical galaxies. However, back on Earth, some of Dawn’s generic goodness is more apparent. Slott has given her some moments of anger in his series, which has worked well, but the interaction between Dawn and the Surfer in Silver Surfer #5 approaches rom-com clichés.
While there is a certain uninspiring ordinary-ness to Silver Surfer #5, it is not a bad comic and I did enjoy a number of moments in it. Norrin attempts to come to terms with what he has done to Zenn-La, and it offers a compelling psychological hook for the Surfer. I think Slott could go further with this feeling. He seems content to keep the feelings on the surface level. However, if the Silver Surfer actually destroyed the entire culture of his home world – to save the culture of his adopted home of Earth – it should really tear him up. I would like to see Norrin struggle more. He seemed to have put those feelings aside by the end of the issue, even though I think that is a more compelling story than his with Dawn.
Michael Allred is one of the best artists in comics today, and his work on Silver Surfer #5 is still exemplary. Allred draws a cover to this issue with a fun “Where’s Waldo” vibe in that it shows a number of actual comic creators in a crowd scene (spot ‘em all!). He also gets a chance to show his quite-literally-amazing Spider-Man when the Surfer briefly bypasses Peter Parker, and it makes me crave a poppy, bright-color Spider-Man from Allred and his wife/colorist Laura Allred. For good measure, he also draws Rachel Maddow. Michael Allred also deftly incorporates many real Silver Surfer comics covers into this story.
Slott and Allred have been producing so many good issues of Silver Surfer that it’s hard to fault them too much for an issue that feels flat. At the same time, this is not a time when you finish a comic and feel like you can’t wait until the next issue. I hope this is a momentary pause to reset towards a new exciting story, but the only thing teased at the end of the issue – Dawn reunited with her estranged mom – isn’t really thrilling. Silver Surfer #5 is an okay comic, which does feature some fantastic art that almost makes up for its mostly pedestrian story.