“Silver Surfer: Black” #1

By | June 13th, 2019
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Silver Surfer is comic book royalty. He is a character seminal to many Marvel mythos, and is associated with phenomenal creative teams, who’ve often delivered some of their top work while working on him. Gladly, Donny Cates, Tradd Moore, and team continue that legacy.

Cover by Tradd Moore
Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Tradd Moore
Colored by Dave Stewart
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles

Spinning out of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1, almost the entire galaxy’s defenders have been blown through a black hole, including the Silver Surfer! But the story doesn’t end there… In order to fight back the oblivion, Surfer will have to fight to save his own soul and not lose himself to the void. Follow the Sentinel of the Spaceways on a journey that will change him forever! From superstars Donny Cates (VENOM, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) and Tradd Moore (ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER, VENOM)!

Herald of death. Peaceful warrior. Wise ally. There are many ways to describe the Silver Surfer on his long journey through comic history. With an ascendency mapping back to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on what is considered, to this day, one of Marvel’s most classic stories, the narratives around him have always been larger than life and cosmic. And, yet, where the character truly shines the most is when that epic scale takes a backdrop to deeply introspective moments, aligned with the debate of emotions, decision, and the impact to one’s soul. The reason why “Silver Surfer: Black” #1 succeeds so much is how well it balances those tipping points.

Before discussing the narrative choices, plot, and dialogue, it would be a disservice not to dwell on the superb art that Moore and Stewart have delivered. Keep in mind that none of what transpires in this book is mundane; everything is extra-terrestrial, from landscapes, cosmos, creatures. Even the more familiar Surfer is going through deep transformations, so every page and panel is a design choice. And Moore really excels on this. From how the Surfer endures the pressures of black holes, to how defiant enemies are depicted, everything feels new and haunting.

Page and panel layout are also excellent. In one occasion, the frames themselves seem to melt away due to the intense gravity of a black hole, as if the page, drawings and colors are sucked in. There is an intentional sense of fluidity on this issue, particularly around the Silver Surfer, as if everything is in a state of flux, of transformation. His design on architecture, later on the issue, are also layered and beautiful to further examine. There is a panel, for instance, that stretches around a tall wall and door that feels real given how richly detailed it is.

Stewart colors are fully aligned with the experience. They are absolutely explosive, psychedelic, and trippy, moving alongside the ethereal shapes of each page. The combination of Moore and Stewart partnership makes it seem they are done by the same artist, and that should be as complimentary as it can be for a duo. His use of deep shadows, particularly on character’s faces on the more dramatic moments of the issue, added further gravitas to those moments and exasperate the struggles they are going through.

It is, however, under Cates’s pen that the issue really comes alive. Stan Lee once said that it was with the Silver Surfer where he would flex his writing muscles the strongest, allow himself to be more verbose, to tackle more complex themes. Cates seems to be drinking from the same fountain, as the lead character narrates and contemplates the absurd situation he is found in. It goes back to that balancing act of infusing the entire issue with epic scales, and still make it about the struggle of a person who wants to do right. Who wants to support his friends and allies. To allow peace to prevail. Cates’s voice for the Surfer is that of a nobleman, of someone who is at the same time detached from those around him, but caring for them regardless.

Plot-wise, there is a limited amount of accolades one can provide without going into spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that Cates has also borrowed something else from Stan on his tenure with Marvel, that of really making each story a tapestry of something larger. For fans following his work across the publisher, the reveal on the very last page will leave readers gasping and anticipating “Silver Surfer: Black” #2.

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All in all, “Silver Surfer: Black” is a great example of how a limited series can start. It re-introduces the lead character quickly and within an exciting context. It remains true to that lead’s voice, its past inclinations and moral compass. And it does that with some gorgeous art, that is so aligned with the broader goals of the series, and convert into such inventive panels, that it fuses the narrative completely.

Final Verdict: 8.9 – “Silver Surfer: Black” #1 is amazingly fast-paced and deep at the same time, knowing how to balance its epic scale with a truthful and deep character focus and voice.

Gustavo S Lodi

Gustavo comes all the way down from Brazil, reading and writing about comics for decades now. While Marvel and DC started the habit, he will read anything he can get his hands on! Big Nintendo enthusiast as well.