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."


Anonymous said...

Dr. Strange - DICK!

Mark Fossen said...

Doesn't he have any magic broom spells?

Damn, Dave .... didn't Fantasia teach you anything?

Woody! said...

As They Might Be Giants once said: "I am not your broom."

Anonymous said...

The stupid shit is; depending on who is writing the "Doc's place gets trashed" scene, it invariably has him just snapping his fingers and everything is fixed!

Even the "never touch this or the Multiverse will implode" type items.

I think that this "Wong fetch me a broom" bit is so he can CANE Wong's ass for letting more superpowered "Bulls" in his "China-shoppe" of a house.

"HOW...MANY...TIMES...MUST I...TELL YOU...? TELL THEM... 'MASTER...IS...AWAY!' Believe me, Wong. This hurts ME... MORE than it hurts...YOU!"


BTW...I was soo totaly going to mention Fantasia teaching Dave nothing, but Mark Fossen beat me to it.

(or in that case..Mouse!)


Anonymous said...

"I refuse to believe he would ever say 'Whaa,' 'Huhhh,' or 'What the-' when surprised."

Maybe if you pictured him saying it in Samuel L. Jackson's voice: "Whaaaat motherfucker?" Yeah, that would work.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Midnight Sun's hat and cloak: I call Phantom Stranger "homage".

Anonymous said...

So in this issue or any subsequent one, do we ever find out what Midnight Sun was trying to "make the Surfer understand"?

Anonymous said...

You know what else is crazy about space? All those purple and pink amoeba looking things that are floating everywhere in Surfer comics. I never saw that through my telescope.

joncormier said...

I like to think the Marvel Bullpen would walk near the two Rons singing "The Two Ron-Ron-Rons, the two Ron-Rons."

....If they worked in some kind of comic book sweatshop then.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha! Right!

Silly Gravity..
What Dave MUST have meant was Lunar Landers are build SOLID!

But, they always looked like badly constructed balsa wood and tin-foil science fair projects to me.


Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

So out in the middle of nowhere in space, Midnight just sticks his foot out and trips up Surfer on his board?

Anonymous said...

U ed u wer going 2 pst yestrday bt dint me mad at u! >:(

Anonymous said...

Midnight has a weird, tortured history- after Shang-Chi broke his neck in Special Marvel Edition #16, the Kree (wuh?) stole his corpse and reengineered him into a super-space-ninja. The Surfer confronted him during Steve Englehart's (who wrote the original SPE story) and Lim's KICKASS Kree-Skrull war arc in Silver Surfer #25-31.

I've always had an intense dislike for Ron Marz's scripting- even BEFORE Green Lantern- Yep, I was hatin' on Marz 'fore it was cool! But Ron Lim? Ron Lim is the best there is at what he does, and what he does is draw the most awesome Silver Surfer this side o' Kirby. Why is Lim doing Sonic the Hedgehog and fill-in issues of Cable and Deadpool (And that issue of C and D was the best so far in the title's run) and not drawing Annihilation?

Really, it's the Chewbacca defense! Andrea DiVito's a competent artist, but if you're doing a cosmic scare slugfest for all the marbles, you'd want the guy who can draw the living crap out of that stuff in his sleep, wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

My memory of this is that it was tied into the Infinity Gauntlet. My much-faulty memory says that Surfer was aware of Thanos' Happy Glove but Thanos made him forget, thus the guy waiting to beat the memory into him.

Bully said...

Well, according to internet research*, the "descent module" part of the LEM (what would be left behind on the moon after the astronauts blasted back out into orbit in the "ascent module" part of the LEM) is 22,375 pounds. At a one-sixth-of-Earth gravity, that's still 3,700+ pounds (nearly two tons). No stretch for the Surfer, but hey, you or I ain't gonna be hoisting it over our heads any time soon.

So where's my No-Prize?

(*And yes, I know enough not to believe everything i read on the Internet.)

Tegan O'Neil said...

No, this issue was the first issue after the Infinity Gauntlet was over - Thanos had been parceled off to his farm planet and the Surfer was on his way back into space. That's how Strange's apartments got messed up, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Maybe what Midnight Sun is trying so hard to make the Surfer understand is how a stylin' chapeau can be the perfect complement to the well-dressed cosmic superhero's outfit. "I must make him understand that he should try a porkpie-- a porkpie would go so well with the glistening silver surfboard and shiny rippling abs!"

Mark W. Hale said...

Admit it, Campbell: you only wrote about this so you could say “Shalla’s Balls!”

Lim also draws a kick-ass Thanos, as evidenced by the kick-ass issues of Thanos he drew, which sent me into a teenage nostalgia gigglefit.

Anonymous said...

Lim also had a solid run on Captain America during the epic Mark Gruenwald era. Probably his best work was on the "Streets of Poison" storyline, which featured Daredevil, Black Widow & Bullseye.

Anonymous said...

For those who love to see Strange abusing Wong, be sure to check out X-Statix Presents: Deadgirl. That series was just full of Wong/Strange silliness.

Phillip said...

Iwas gonna say "Phantom Stanger", too, but chawunky beat me to it.

Anonymous said...

The lunar lander, while still heavy on the moon, could also be described as 'massive'. This has the bonus of being both a commonly-used hyperbole and a technical term at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think Midnight Sun was trying to tell the Surfer that he wasn't wearing pants. Being mute, not to mention in space, he couldn't just say, "Dude! Your Crab Nebula is showing!"

I was reading the Surfer comic back then (I still have those issues in a long white somewhere), and even when the stories were a little weak they were dependably nice to look at. I always liked Midnight Sun just because he looked cool--fedora and trenchcoat cool, a kind of cool rarely seen outside of Earth's gravity well. A space-based martial artist was at least something different from the usual run of strong guys and energy projectors. And he didn't do badly against the Surfer, which means that he could tear almost anybody else a whole variety of new sphincters. If given a means to communicate, he's one of those characters that I'd love to see a creative writer do something with, like in a cosmic team book.

One thing we also learned in his backstory was that the Kree had apparently been collecting dead metahumans from Earth for quite some time and keeping them in stasis for experimentation. Which opens the door for all sorts of interesting character resurrections and revampings.

Anonymous said...

Hey, great blog. I'll signup later.

I actually have those Lim issues you speak of, and Midnight Sun was actually the reason why I started collecting (sort of collecting I should say) Silver Surfer. I have the issue you wrote about and the previous issue where Midnight Sun originated. Great stuff.

And the fedora is kick ass, and you know it!

Anonymous said...

Hey, great blog. I'll signup later.

I actually have those Lim issues you speak of, and Midnight Sun was actually the reason why I started collecting (sort of collecting I should say) Silver Surfer. I have the issue you wrote about and the previous issue where Midnight Sun originated. Great stuff.

And the fedora is kick ass, and you know it!

lazy_cg said...

poor wong.

though the fedora is cool. cause there is nothing better thatn a ninja in a fedora

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