Marvel Pick Of The Week – February 17, 2016 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

Silver Surfer 2, by Dan Slott, Michael Allred, and Laura Allred

Starting over is never easy. Trying something new brings a wealth of possibility, but it means saying goodbye to the potential of the current path, and comparisons can drive you mad with self-doubt. The Silver Surfer has for fifty years been soaring through outer space, chewing himself to pieces about the guilt of serving a genocidal monster to preserve his own home planet, Zenn-La, and his love, Shalla Bal. Under Dan Slott’s pen, the Surfer’s role has changed to something more akin to the good parts of Doctor Who, a likable but inscrutable figure with a charming companion who uses science fiction tropes to explore the most important parts of being a human being. This week, Slott and the Allreds twist their narrative in such amazing metatext that they get to weigh in on Marvel Comics as a whole, and it’s amazing.

Just before the relaunch last month, the Surfer and his friend Dawn were able to bust out of the known universe and watch all of Marvel get rewritten for Secret Wars. Last issue, they came back to Earth to stop a bunch of aliens who were stealing everyone’s creativity with a weird machine, but it turns out they were just trying to preserve the planet’s cultures before something even worse showed up. This issue, a bunch of villains appear with an even bigger version of that machine, intending to drain Earth of thought and character so that it can be overwritten with their own. Silver Surfer would never let that happen, so he looks for allies, but he can’t navigate the post-Wars Marvel landscape. The Fantastic Four are disbanded, their building bought out by Peter Parker, and the Avengers Mansion has become a boutique hotel. The only person he can find is Alicia Masters, but she and Dawn have a serious difficulty as a pair of women who travelled around with the Silver Surfer and were kind of romantic without putting such a label on it. Ben Grimm has been captured while on a mission with his new Guardians Of The Galaxy teammates, and now he’s the herald for this invading alien force, and Norrin Radd has to clobber one of his best friends. But the biggest shock is saved for the final pages, where the alien force is revealed to be the survivors of Zenn-La, and if Norrin can just step back from saving Earth, his home planet will be resurrected in its place. And yes, that includes his ex.

From a publishing standpoint, Surfer represents the comic reader. The Marvel output after Secret Wars is a lot like what we were reading before, but Fantastic Four fans have good reasons to think this world was put back together wrong. Longtime readers may have been irritated at Dawn Greenwood recreating some of the Alicia Masters story (Alicia hasn’t been around in forever, and I had honestly forgotten they’d had a thing before this issue). If you’re mad about The Thing joining up with Rocket Raccoon, the Surfer’s outrage as the new role will make you feel so validated.

But from a personal place, this issue is wonderfully challenging. We almost never get it right the first time we date someone, and we will always have to be grownups about that. Our current boyfriends are allowed to ask about our previous ones, and we don’t get to tell them how to feel about the similarities they’ll see. And when we bump into our exes when we’re on a date with someone new, we don’t get to dictate how any of them draws a conclusion. The Surfer flubs that here. He is a very emotional character, always has been, but it’s always been easier for him to connect to guilt or regret than to empathize with the people he loves, and he just doesn’t get what Dawn or Alicia go through in meeting each other. It’s a blunter version of a mistake I think most of us have made, and I trust Dan Slott to pay that off next issue.

And on a bigger scale, Slott and company present a terrible bargain – many of us are happy now, but if given the chance to wipe it all, go back to our childhood, and start over, I bet we’d all need a minute to think. No, I don’t believe for a second that Marvel is going to reboot the whole Earth and relaunch everything on Zenn-La. But they did shut it all down for Secret Wars this summer, and I had some things I wanted to be left out when we got back to usual programming. We live with regrets and what-ifs. But when we accept that this is our path, we can love it more fully, and the Silver Surfer is preparing to teach us this lesson again. I have no regrets about recommending this heartbreaking work. Please read it slowly. And then call someone you love.

Honorable Mentions:

Mighty Thor 4, because despite the amazing plot movements of light elves and dark elves and Asgardian feminism, it is making my day to see Thor drop such a blunt threat on Odin. Can’t wait for next issue to see if her hammer gets there…

Extraordinary X-Men 7, because teen Jean Grey’s fashion choices in her psychic projection form need to become reality. Now.

Web Warriors 4, because Spider-Ham is so adorable. “Little Orphan Hammy.” Hee!

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