Silver Surfer #13-14
Issue(s): Silver Surfer #13, Silver Surfer #14
These are also two more Joe Staton issues before the start of Ron Lim's run. There's nothing wrong with Staton's art (and hey, is that really Dave Cockrum on inks on #13?!) but Marshall Rogers was the selling point of this book's first year or so.
These issues do continue the second Kree-Skrull war that has been developing in this title. The Kree Empire is currently being controlled by Nenora since the Supreme Intelligence went mad due to losing the Soul Gem that was keeping the pink and blue brains in his composite mind from going to war with each other. Ronan the Accuser fights off some Kree assassins.
The assassins are both pink and blue skinned, demonstrating more diversity than Ronan, who calls one of them "pink slime" while he's defeating them. Nenora is secretly a Skrull, which leads to an interesting conversation when Ronan executes the final assassin as he's about to name the people who hired him. Ronan doesn't see what the problem is because, according to him, they already know the conspirators: a General Mar-Kahn and General Yel-Sinn, both pinks. Nenora says that the assassin might have named a new conspirator, but Ronan says that the Kree are always upfront about their attacks and that hidden conspiracies are the province of the Skrulls. And that shuts Nenora up.
Ronan is a bit more lecherous than usual, asking Nenora if maybe she needs a man to stick around.
But Nenora instead sends him off to take care of the Silver Surfer, who we saw last issue attacking Kree outposts.
Now, we the audience don't think that the Silver Surfer is really the one who was attacking those outposts, and we see that he and Nova are still in the Coalsack Nebula - and so is the Contemplator's head!
Since the death of the Contemplator means Nova's mission to bring the Elder back to Galactus is cut short, the Surfer decides to part ways with Nova and go back to Earth to see if he can find the child that Mantis mentioned. But he agrees to have a "drink" (neither of the Heralds actually drink anymore) with Nova first, and they stop on a nearby planet. And that's when Ronan shows up and starts Accusing.
Staton and Englehart keep up the big silent panel feel established when Englehart was working with Rogers.
The Surfer slips away from Ronan and gets on the trail of the person that's been impersonating him.
They battle for a while...
...and then one of the Surfers is knocked out, but in the mix-up Nova isn't sure which is which. She tests the survivor by mispronouncing Brooklyn to see if he corrects her and says that she has to hurry up and get back to Earth, and he again corrects her and says that she has to get back to Galactus. But it turns out that he is the imposter and he blasts her in the back.
He traps her in a "refraction matrix" and explains his origins to her. Back when Captain Marvel died, the Skrulls sent General Zedrao to honor him. But it turns out they also sent a second Skrull to spy on Earth's super-heroes. The Skrull, Bartak, disguised himself as Devil-Slayer, because who would know or care if he was acting out of character? But when Devil-Slayer actually showed up, Bartak switched over to the Silver Surfer, since he knew that the Surfer couldn't be on Titan because of Galactus' barrier.
So that's the big explanation for why the Surfer was able to show up on Titan six years ago. It's a little... i don't want to say disrespectful exactly, because that overstates it, but it's a little weird to turn one of the characters in that emotional story into a Skrull to fix a continuity issue. If we really needed to address it we could have said that Reed Richards rigged up a hologram device or Galactus granted special dispensation to travel to Titan for this one special event (still trapped in Earth's solar system!). And if Englehart was going to fix this, couldn't he have also made Bartak transform into Medusa for a little bit to solve my continuity problem with her?
Anyway, after the funeral, Bartak decided that pretending to be the Surfer was a good idea, so he went back to the Skrulls where they gave him Surfer-like powers, amplified by transistors similar to the one used to power-up the Super-Skrull, except these deployed on multiple stations. This raises questions like if the Skrulls could bring someone to near Silver Surfer level powers, why don't they do it more often? And what exactly has Bartak been up to all this time?
In any event, Ronan catches up with the fake Surfer...
...and Bartak realizes that even if Ronan knew the truth it wouldn't make a difference. So they fight, but Bartak loses. And Nova bugs out.
She locates the real Surfer, who she had infused with solar energy in case he was the real one. And he gives her a kiss for it. Now that Mantis has opened up his emotions, he's putting it all out there.
Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Nenora arranges for her Skrull allies to get wiped out by a superior Kree force by telling them that the Kree's shields are inoperative.
Nenora has decided that she wants to keep the Kree Supreme Leader position for herself and didn't want to take orders from her boss anymore, and by doing this she's arranged to have all the Skrulls that knew about her to be killed.
And since that factional Skrull leader is killed off, we're introduced to the leader of a different faction, S'ybll.
We also learn the name of another factional leader. The guy that Bartak gave his allegiance to was "Emperor Karza". It's not said if he has a diminutive cousin out there with the rank of Baron.
Issue #14 ends with a dying Skrull on Earth shooting up some kind of flare.
I downplayed Joe Staton a little, but he actually does pretty well here, especially considering he was mainly an inker at Marvel prior to this. Again, the format here of having big open page layouts helps the art convey the cosmic elements and also keeps Englehart from overloading the pages with text the way he does with Al Milgrom's art on West Coast Avengers. And despite devoting a lot of time to a fan-fix, these are pretty good issues that build the Kree-Skrull war and the Surfer/Nova relationship.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Silver Surfer annual #1 takes place between issues #14-15.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showAptak, Bartak, Contemplator Skrull, Kylor, Nenora, Nova (Frankie Raye), Ripan, Ronan the Accuser, S'Byll, Silver Surfer, Soul Gem, Supreme Intelligence, Surfer-Skrull
Wait, is Englehart claiming that Avengers Annual 11 was the next time the heroes saw the Surfer after Marvel's death? That doesn't make sense- the Surfer was at Kyle's funeral in Defenders 106 and Kyle was at Marvel's funeral, so Marvel's death had to happen before Defenders 106.
Posted by: Michael | July 1, 2014 11:01 PM
It's a footnote: "*And since nobody else is gonna explain it, be it noted that the next time the real Surfer was seen on Earth - in Avengers annual #11 - he was transported to Defenders HQ by a cosmic being, and the heroes assumed he'd been brought from space".
I agree that Avengers annual #11 has to take place after Defenders #107 (the funeral was in #107) since that issue specifically says it takes place a short time after Defenders #109 and mentions Dr. Strange being away due to the events of Defenders #110-111.
I guess no one noticed the Surfer at the funeral. He doesn't have a speaking role. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | July 2, 2014 7:38 AM
"This raises questions like if the Skrulls could bring someone to near Silver Surfer level powers, why don't they do it more often?"
Maybe because this was a massive undertaking and depleted them of their resources for a while.
Posted by: clyde | June 21, 2015 4:15 PM
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