Silver Surfer – 2015 Weekly Writer Challenge: Dan Slott (Part 2)
52 weeks. 52 different writers. 2 trade paperbacks or hardcovers a week. Each week I’ll take a look at a different writer and read two different collected editions from within that person’s repertoire to help in the examination of their work.
A fun fact that some readers don’t know about Dan Slott is that he’s a diehard Doctor Who fan. Growing up in London during his teen years, Dan Slott was exposed to the cultural phenomenon that is Doctor Who, a story about an alien man who travels throughout time and space with a young female companion. The series has had such an everlasting impression on Slott that it not only inspired his take on the Silver Surfer (which is what we’re talking about today) but it actually resulted in Slott dedicating the third issue of the series to Russell T. Davies, the man responsible for relaunching the series for a more modern audience way back in 2005. Slott’s love (and ties) for Doctor Who is something that is incredibly prevalent and seemingly always on display during his run with the Silver Surfer, showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Silver Surfer Volume 1: New Dawn
Dawn Greenwood is an incredible average young woman from Anchor Bay, Massachusetts who leads a rather normal life. Helping her father manage their family hotel right on the shore of a beautiful beach, Dawn loves her home and the world she lives in. Her sister Eve on the other hand has a desire to strike out into the world and explore, constantly sending her sister reminders of the life she is missing out on through letters and postcards. Dawn gets whisked away on the ultimate adventure when she suddenly crosses paths with the Silver Surfer. The Silver Surfer is a former herald of Galactus, being used to scout out worlds for Galactus to devour. Possessing the “Power Cosmic”, the Silver Surfer is capable of almost anything he sets his mind to, choosing to use his power for good nowadays instead of aiding his past master. Silver Surfer and Dawn Greenwood are thrust together when the Surfer gets unwillingly drawn into helping the planet Impericon defeat the menacing Never Queen. The aliens charged with running the Impericon recruit “Champions” to battle the Never Queen, abducting people important to said Champion as leverage to ensure they try to help instead of flee. Things get a little awkward for the Surfer when he finds out Dawn is being used against him to fight the Never Queen, even though he’s never met Dawn before!
A whole new chapter is entered into the Marvel Cosmic Universe by Dan Slott with his work on the updated Silver Surfer series. One of the most fascinating and powerful members of the Marvel Universe, Silver Surfer gets a fresh new take for this series, shying away from telling grand cosmic epics that the character is typically used for and instead focusing on the fun side of space. Dan Slott essentially crafts a love letter for all things “Doctor Who” with this new style of Silver Surfer, going as far as pairing him up with a “companion” in Dawn Greenwood and throwing them all over the galaxy to see what kind of hi-jinx he can get them mixed up into…but more on that in a bit. This Silver Surfer is safe for new and old fans alike, even though it reads as a drastically different take on the character than past readers might be comfortable with. As I said a few sentences ago, Dan Slott embraces the fun side to cosmic stories, making the series more about adventure or the joys of life than crushing planets into dust (although if that type of thing interests you then you should probably pick up volume two!).
I’d readily define this new Surfer series as “Doctor Who collides with Superheroes”, taking in several elements that fans of the show will find appealing but making them function within the constraints of the Marvel Universe. Introducing Dawn Greenwood is just the first step Dan Slott takes to not only having this series feel like it belongs with Doctor Who, but also setting this series off in the perfect direction. The reader is given an immediate humanizing element to the story, learning and discovering through the eyes of Dawn. Outer space is such a vast area to cover, always presenting new and exciting prospects to the characters, making every experience for Dawn completely different. We get to live vicariously through Dawn Greenwood as she learns what zapperapples are at the same time we do, or discover the truths of the Impericon. Everything in this story and on the page is just as new for Dawn Greenwood as is it for the reader, giving it this instantaneous sense of wonder. In having the Surfer travel from world to world, finding a new and completely different adventure on each different planet, you can’t help but draw the comparison to Doctor Who, who travels across time and space with his companion doing the same sort of thing. If you’re a Doctor Who fan looking for a new comic series to start reading, Silver Surfer is definitely where you should start.
As I pointed out in the previous paragraph, Dawn Greenwood is the reader’s eyes to the story. A whole new character just for this Silver Surfer series, Dawn is an amazing, beautiful, and quirky young woman who is immediately likeable. All credit goes to Dan Slott for creating a character like Dawn, who doesn’t feel like your typical “damsel in distress” you find ever so frequently in comics. In fact, Slott goes to great lengths in this first volume to show you that Dawn couldn’t be farther from being just another female pushover, asserting her into pivotal parts of the plot every chance he gets. More often than not it’s actually Dawn saving the day in this series than it is the Surfer which is a pleasant and unexpected surprise. The end of the second issue is a perfect example of how funny but strong of a character Dawn is, declaring to the Surfer when he shows up to save her that she is actually going to be the one to save him as she is already in the midst of saving dozens of other captives on the Impericon. At every turn in this story there is always Dawn Greenwood, proving that you can have a great female lead in comics but you don’t necessarily need to call her something ridiculous like “a strong independent woman”. She’s a woman, it’s as simple as that, and that’s why she works so well for this story. She’s an average character who does exceptional things when given the chance to, proving to easily be one of the most fun brand new characters to have debuted in comics over the last few years. It’s funny because this series, at least initially, could easily be called “Dawn Greenwood” instead of Silver Surfer since she is the star of the show here. As this series progresses (and oh boy, does it get even better with volume 2) the role of the Surfer in Dawn’s life and vice versa becomes more defined. It’s a beautiful relationship shared between these two characters that readers new or old can’t help but enjoy.
Don’t worry though readers, this isn’t just a story all about Dawn Greenwood as the Surfer still factors heavily into the constant ongoing nature of this comic. To put it simply, he basically becomes Dawn’s travel guide, showing her the mystical wonders of the entire Universe in the ways only he can do. Dan Slott is afforded a brilliant opportunity to play with the serious and largely unemotional nature of Norrin Radd (a.k.a. The Silver Surfer) through his interactions with Dawn. For the most part, the Surfer has always been about as emotional as he is colourful, lacking a real sense of humour and being almost emotional suppressed. In being a herald for Galactus there was little room for emotions when it came to being Norrin Radd, but almost immediately after meeting Dawn you see the nature of his character start to truly flourish. These two characters bring out the best in each other and the end result is actually a more playful Surfer who we watch evolve, going from a focused and uptight character as he transitions into a laid back man. The moments that truly solidify just how much the Surfer is changing as a result of Dawn is when he “silvers down”, an act in which he essentially drops the silver coating around his body to expose his “human” form. With every turn of the page you watch Surfer grow more as a character which is a true joy to experience.
Collects: Silver Surfer #1-5
Best Character: Dawn Greenwood
Best Line Of Dialogue/Caption: You named my board “Toomie”? – Silver Surfer
Best Scene/Moment: Dawn learns the true name of the Surfer’s board – Issue 3
Best Issue: Issue 3. The third issue in this collection culminates the opening arc of Slott and Allred’s story, putting Dawn and the Surfer truly together for the first time, giving readers just a taste of the great things to come. This issue is compelling, heartfelt and hilarious in all the best ways, giving you more than one moment that will keep you talking about the series for days. A beautiful arc closer with tons of great character moments, drama, and solid jokes, Silver Surfer only gets better from this point on.
Why You Should Read It: If you’re looking for a series with crazy action sequences like your typical superheroes series nowadays then this series isn’t for you. But if you want a series that’s fun, inventive and bursting with emotion then I highly recommend you get into this new take on the Silver Surfer with haste. This is hands down one of the most funny, intelligent, witty and all around consistent comics in the industry right now. Dan Slott is in perfect form for this series, backed by a strong showing on the art from Mike and Laura Allred. There are as many moments that will have you laughing and smiling as there are moments that will tug on your heart strings. Above all else, you get to see an amazing relationship develop between a man who didn’t seem to have much of a heart and one of Marvel’s best new characters. You’ll laugh, you may cry, but you will absolutely smile. What more can you ask for from a comic book series?