Happy Memorial Day everyone!
Similar to my Batman and Machine Man kicks in the past months, I’ve recently been on a Silver Surfer one. I don’t exactly know why I’ve been gravitating towards the more cosmic level heroes this year. I originally thought it was all the Avengers Infinity War buzz getting in my brain, but I think it actually has a lot to do with the fact that I just haven’t read enough of this portion of the Marvel universe.
Growing up, the closest I got to the cosmic part of the Marvel universe was the Fantastic Four, and yes, that is considered by many to be the gateway book bridging the gap between the Earth Bound heroes and the cosmic ones. However, for some reason, I never took that step through. And it’s not like I didn’t have opportunities, as my cousin and best bud John Andrew’s book in those teenage years, was Silver Surfer. He read the crap out of it, and to this day, its one of the few complete comic runs he still owns and treasures.
Then again, maybe it was because of my cousin that I balked at it. After all, my guy growing up was Spider man, and my cousin did go to great pains to mention how much more powerful the Silver Surfer was than Spider man, which is pretty much like taking a hot steaming pile on ones hero. And yes, that irked me, so I probably mentally said I wanted nothing to do with the Silver Surfer by default.
But now, I’m older and with the oodles of time before I go to bed, so with a back log of comics to read, I felt it was time to give the old board rider a second try. I first started with rereading the first 18 issues of the original series, which I might cover in a future blog, because it is truly mangtastic.
However for my second choice, I picked up a graphic novel I inherited from my cousin called The Enslavers. Sporting Stan Lee writing and Keith Pollard art, I felt as if this was a spiritual successor to that original series and therefore should continue in that grand tradition.
Plus, the villain of the piece is shown whooping on a bunch of the Earth’s mightiest heroes in his Celestrial like armor. So the showdown between him and Surfer should be pretty epic, right?
Well, yes and no. There’s no doubt that the final battle between this big bad Leroy Brown and our resident chrome dome champion is nothing less than Dragon Ball Z worthy, but unfortunately, you have to wade through some pretty inconsistent tripe to get to that.
Yes, the Enslavers is not a very good story despite very strong art and some interesting ideas floating around among the mess, mainly because a lack of sticking to not only established Marvel continuity but it’s own internal continuity.
First, you have to ignore the ridiculous premise that one cosmic villain could defeat all of the Earth’s greatest heroes without use of any sort of deus ex machima like the Cosmic Cube or Infinity Gauntlet, but yet the Surfer would be somehow powerful enough to resist that. I’m sorry, but if there was such a villain, the Surfer would too be a victim of that power, not the only one spared.
But more to the point, that even if this dude was this powerful and had the means to enslave countless star systems, the fact that he would go unnoticed and unchecked for so long boggles the mind. I mean hell Galactus even knows and “fears” him, so the fact that we’re just hearing about him is pretty craptacular.
I mean someone: Thor, the FF, even Quasar should have seen this spaceship of his that dwarfs entire suns floating around out there and said “yep, that’s a threat we have to deal with after lunch”. Even the Surfer doesn’t really know about this dude, until he conveniently and randomly visits his home planet of Zenn-La to find it destroyed….again. (a common theme with Surfer books I found)
Second, the story also hinges upon this Carl Sagan type scientist who keeps harping on the fact that Earth would benefit from meeting an alien race for the first time, when in essence, the Earth’s been visited a couple thousand times by this point in the Marvel universe, most with disastrous results.
This same chump sticks our galactic coordinates on a deep space probe which is how the Enslavers find our planet. Although I get the point that they are trying to root things in the real world by comparing it to the Voyager probes and their gold plated messages of peace, it just doesn’t work with what we know about the Marvel universe because A) Every alien race in the universe seems to know about Earth already or B) Even if they didn’t, they just have to ask the Skrulls, Kree, Shi’ ar, Brood, Colonizers of Rigel, Badoon, Titans, Dire Wraiths,Space Phantoms, Phalanx, or any other of a dozen massive space empires for directions. Earth is in essence the corner gas station of the galaxy so there’s no need for anyone to advertise.
There’s also some sexy bits involving this slaver dude’s porny wife, seducing Silver Surfer for no reason. And I mean no reason, as she doesn’t really do it to advance the plot at all, like saying distracting Surfer while her man crushes Earth. Surfer just shows up like the pizza delivery man and she drops her panties. And if that’s not werid enough, she transforms herself into Surfer’s long lost love, Shalla-Bal, just proving that even cosmic level entities are down for some random cosplay kink sometimes.
I mean, as a teenage boy, I wouldn’t have really cared why I was getting some random T&A, but here it just seems overly gratuitous. The only thing it made me think was how exactly the Silver Surfer does the nasty what with his junk being covered by layers of tin paint.
Overall, I can’t really recommend reading The Enslavers to anyone unless they are a hardcore Surfer fan. Sure, it’s got some really neat visuals and set pieces, but overall the story is junk and it shows. For the causal reader, there are dozens of better stories out there featuring our favorite cosmic wave catcher. Maybe once I’m done with my current Surfer kick, I’ll post a blog with my definite must reads in that regard.
Who knows maybe my cousin will help me compile said list. That is as long as the conversation doesn’t drift back to the age old debate on whether the cosmically powered Captain Universe version of Spider man could whoop Silver Surfer. Because there’s no doubt he could…
Andy’s Read Pile rating: C-