Tuesday, July 11, 2006
SILVER SURFER #60 Marvel Comics, 1991
I kinda liked the era of Silver Surfer when Ron Marz was writing and Ron Lim was drawing the adventures of everybody’s favorite celestial surfer dude. The Two Rons era was marked by a run of solid, middle-of-the-road stories. That’s damning with faint praise, isn’t it? I enjoyed reading Ron & Ron’s Silver Surfer books, even if they did feel a little episodic and lightweight. I would imagine these stories would read better if they were collected in trade format – as monthly floppies they seemed a little unsatisfying.
I really loved artist Ron Lim’s work on this book. In the past I have occasionally found Lim’s work to be a little flat, particularly the way he draws faces, but his version of Silver Surfer is The Shit. He just looks so shiny and sparkly! Plus, Lim went crazy with the outer space backgrounds on this book, adding all kinds of colors and zipatone effects. It’s good stuff.
One of the necessary conventions of any superhero space comic (Silver Surfer, Green Lantern, Quasar) is that outer space is actually a very cozy neighborhood where you bump into people you know all the time – so much for the endless void.
Case in point: in this issue, after chatting with Dr. Strange, Thor, and Adam Warlock in New York City, the Surfer takes off for space on his cosmic surf board. A mute martial artist named Midnight Sun happens to be waiting in the exact right spot in the billions and billions of miles of space that the Surfer will soar past, and he bushwhacks him.
The Surfer has the Frickin' Power Cosmic. How could he not see this guy floating in your way? Maybe he was screwing around with his iPod and got distracted for a moment. Anyway, it’s not a very dignified encounter.
“Whaaaat?” Marz does a pretty good job writing the Surfer for the most part, but I refuse to believe that he would ever say “Whaaa--?” or “Huhhh?” or “What the --?” when surprised. He’d probably say something like, “By the rings of Saturn!” or “Shalla’s Balls!”
But who is this guy that’s stupid enough to ambush The Silver Surfer? Midnight Sun, I learned, is a souped-up cosmic version of a character named Midnight who originally appeared in the Master of Kung Fu comics. He’s evolved from earthbound ass-kicker into a mute, star faring ninja with energy discs on his hands and feet, a cape, and – weirdly – a fedora hat.
I like Midnight Sun’s hat, but I don’t understand it. The fedora seems a little incongruous and doesn’t fit in with the character concept. I like to think that Midnight Sun just decided that he looks damn cool in a fedora and that’s why he wears it. I think he should really go nuts and accessorize with a piano-key scarf or rainbow Mork suspenders.
Midnight Sun may be mute, but Marz provides us with some internal dialogue so we can empathize with the guy, who knows he is outclassed but keeps attacking the Surfer anyways. Why? Umm… I’m not entirely clear on that. Something to do with his amnesia. I forget.
Dude keeps talking (in his mind) about how he needs to make the Surfer understand, to figure out a way to communicate with him. And what better way than by kicking him in the face?
This is a great example of a comic book character whose default mode is violence.
If you couldn’t speak and you really needed to get your point across to somebody, what would you do? Would you kick, punch, and choke the person? Well, if you were trying to communicate “I want to hurt you,” that would be appropriate. But Midnight Sun clearly wants something from Silver Surfer aside from combat. They end up fighting on the moon – perhaps Midnight Sun could write “AMIGO” in the lunar surface? Or maybe he could carry around a dry erase board and pen. Or he could learn sign language. But if Midnight Sun did any of these things, we would have no fight, and thus no Silver Surfer #60.
In the end, the Surfer is so annoyed by Midnight Sun that he picks up an old American lunar lander and chucks it at his mute foe, injuring him. Lunar landers are heavy.* The super powered Inhumans (who live on the moon) show up and decide to take the fucked-up Midnight Sun under their protection.
Surfer and Midnight part as friends, I guess, and then Surfer scoots off to his next totally coincidental encounter in the vastness of space. The end.
The best panel comes early in the comic, after the Surfer has left Dr. Strange’s brownstone in Greenwich Village. Strange’s pad gets trashed by villains or evil beings once every six months or so, and his poor man-servant Wong has to pick up the mess. Again.
The guy can rip apart the fabric of reality but he makes Wong clean his shit up? That's cold. Doesn't he have any magic broom spells?
*UPDATE: As Dave's Long Box reader Jonni rightly pointed out, lunar landers are not all that heavy on The Moon. I think I should have described them as "solidly built."