Silver Surfer #19-20
Issue(s): Silver Surfer #19, Silver Surfer #20
Galactus has defeated the In-Betweener and is now acting jealous about the Silver Surfer's relationship with Nova and is doing everything to split them up. Interesting since he's the one who suggested they pair up in the first place, seemingly with the thought that it might do Surfer some good after the apparent death of Mantis. Nova, similarly, finds herself avoiding calling the Surfer "Silverado" in front of Galactus because she's kind of in love with her boss.
Galactus sends Nova off to find a planet for him to eat, and the Silver Surfer has to take the Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, and Franklin back to Earth anyway, so they split up. The Elders of the Universe teleport away "since [Galactus] can do nothing to stop us!", but Galactus isn't worried since "they and I both know Eternity!".
"Some time in the future", we check in on Reptyl and "Clumsy Foulup", and we find out why Firelord and Starfox haven't had much luck locating Nebula. They're going around finding everyone who is a pirate and demanding to know where she is, on the grounds that she is also a pirate.
We'll actually soon find out that Firelord and Starfox got their tip from the highest of authorities. And (as we'll learn, by design) the quest for Nebula is derailed when Firelord hears from Reptyl that the Silver Surfer had been by recently. Firelord has got things twisted around in his head such that the Silver Surfer is responsible for the death of his friend, Air-Walker. Yep, not the Ovoids that actually killed him, or Galactus for making Air-Walker a herald, but the Silver Surfer for quitting his job as Galactus' herald, which thus made Galactus seek out a new herald, Air-Walker, who was killed by the Ovoids (and later rebuilt as a robot). I guess the Surfer should have just remained a herald forever, like Firelord did. Oh wait.
Anyway, Starfox tries to use his persuasion powers on both Reptyl (whose lizard brain is unaffected) and Firelord, but is unable to convince Firelord to give up this dumb vendetta. So he tags along when Firelord heads off after the Surfer.
The Surfer, meanwhile, has dropped off the Fantastic Family and caught up with Nova at the planet she's found for Galactus. The Surfer sees that the planet has life, and he and Nova start an argument about whether or not it's ethical to feed Galactus such a planet, but the discussion is interrupted by Firelord's arrival.
While the Surfer and Firelord fight, Starfox uses his powers to prevent Nova from helping out.
It's the first time i've felt like Starfox's powers might be a bit date-rapey (at least since his Stern Avengers appearances), i guess in part because we know that Nova is a good guy, and in part because by the time the Surfer has defeated Firelord...
...Nova has decided that she's fallen in love with Firelord, and kisses him to "rekindle" his flame.
Starfox also uses his powers on the Surfer, causing him to accept all of this rather placidly.
And that's also when we find out who told Starfox and Firelord to seek out Reptyl: Galactus.
The next issue opens a little later in time, with both characters having "come to" after Firelord and Starfox have left (Firelord didn't want to fight Surfer while he wasn't in control of his faculties).
Galactus is eating the planet that Nova found earlier.
And when he's done feeding, he's still being suspiciously unwilling to let Nova stray too far from his side.
There's no further plot in issue #20; we're just going to jump around to various characters, starting with Firelord and Starfox.
Starfox, meanwhile, is feeling guilty about using his powers on the Surfer.
Note that in addition to subduing criminals, he says that he's used his powers in the past to "heighten a pre-existing bond with a woman". I guess that squares with Starfox's earlier line in Avengers #256 that he never uses his powers on a friend "unless they want me to".
Firelord, says he had no interest in Nova's kiss, and in fact has not felt the "burn" for pleasure since the death of Gabriel. I wonder if they weren't just friends.
Also meanwhile, Reptyl has decided that he's sick of people showing up at his base, so he's taking off for a while and leaving Clumsy Foulup in charge.
Next, we go to Reptyl and Clumsy Foulup. Reptyl is overly nasty and dictatorial...
...so if Clumsy Foulup represents Tom DeFalco, i guess Reptyl is Jim Shooter?
Power definitely goes right to Foulup's head.
And a corrupting influence starts calling to him.
Next, the Kree and Skrulls. We see Nenora - the Skrull posing as a Kree that replaced the Supreme Intelligence and is running the Kree empire for personal gain - continuing to win against the Skrulls. But the Skrull faction of Empress S'Byll now has the Super-Skrull on their side.
Nenora, therefore, expedites her trip to Zenn-La, where she gives Shalla Bal a message of apology to deliver to the Silver Surfer.
Nenora is annoyed when Shalla Bal doesn't rush off to deliver the message directly, but she stands her ground on the position that she only contacts the Surfer when there's an emergency.
When Nenora leaves, she thinks she hears a plant telling her that Nenora is a Skrull, but she doesn't believe it.
I hope we're not heading towards another merger of girlfriends into a single entity!
Finally, that other girlfriend, Mantis. Her appearance is completely gratuitous; we just see her on the way from her West Coast Avengers appearance to her Fantastic Four appearance.
She's kind of a jerk to an airport cop.
And that's basically it. The Mantis thing aside, we're just building up to bigger plots. Which is kind of cool. If i didn't know about the Tom DeFoulup "joke" i'd be wondering what the hell the he and Reptyl were doing in this book; very goofy characters. Even knowing, it doesn't seem appropriate. And Firelord's motivations are pretty contrived. But beyond that it's a pretty good continuation of Englehart's story, and i'm enjoying Ron Lim's art. Lim is pretty prolific, doing fill-ins and Solo Avengers stories while also working on this, and his art looks loose, but in an easy way, not rushed. There are a few more splash pages than i think are necessary but overall he's got some nice storytelling and he's very good with the cosmic stuff.
The cover of issue #20 has some art that is reused for the ad to the Silver Surfer Nintendo game that i've posted here before...
...except you can see some differences (most notably that you don't fight UPC in the game).
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The opening scene from issue #19 takes place "some time" before the rest of the issue, so i haven't placed this entry directly after #18 even though that issue ends with the Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, and Franklin still in space. So think of it like a flashback, but i have tagged the characters that only appear in the opening scene (the Richardses and the Elders) since it doesn't interfere with their chronologies. We just have to get the Richardses home before Mr. Fantastic's cameo in Quasar #3 and then their Avengers appearance during Inferno. Mantis appears here (not necessarily directly) after West Coast Avengers #39. A little bit of time passes between #19-20 but i've kept them in a single entry since we wouldn't want any of these characters appearing elsewhere between issues.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
Englehart has said that he planned to bring Thanos back in issue 23, which is probably the reason for the Starfox appearance. As it is, this arc appears pointless.
Posted by: Michael | September 11, 2014 8:53 PM
Englehart was writing a long-form graphic novel here. Even at #20, the long-running plot about the Elders of the Universe from the first year is still going, and even Galactus is taking on different aspects with his (creepy) interest in keeping Nova and the Surfer apart. Nenora's plotline continues, Clumsy Foulup's is only getting started, and we haven't even gotten to the second Kree-Skrull War yet.
The soap opera aspect [Surfer, Mantis, Nova, Shalla-Bal, the unfortunate appearance of Reed and Sue] helps the story thematically, and helps it make coherent authorial points, even if they're stupid [Nova 're-igniting' Firelord, with her buns fully drawn as we see here.] I'm not saying it's better than second-rate, but this is a far deeper story than most comics of the era could manage.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 11, 2014 9:43 PM
Funny how you think of Reptyl as goofy; he's always struck me as rather creepy.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 11, 2014 10:17 PM
The voice in the cave is eventually revealed to be the Contemplator Impostor, so shouldn't he be listed as a character appearing?
Posted by: Michael | September 11, 2014 10:51 PM
Thanks, Michael. The MCP doesn't list him here. I've added him.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 12, 2014 7:32 AM
Mantis and Firelord in the same issue? God help me.
And wait, wasn't Mantis stabbed by the Swordsman in WCA #39 and then restored as flesh colored? I'd ask if this gets explained later but that means more Mantis appearances, so I'll pass.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 15, 2015 12:57 PM
Just curious, if you'd care to say, what specifically you dislike about Firelord.
Always thought it was pretty cool how G's first four heralds (at least as introduced to readers) aligned with the four classical "elements": Surfer (water), Gabriel (air), Firelord (fire), Terrax (earth). Yeah, skipping The Destroyer. Retreads and lack of coherence after that.
If we're going to air dislikes, I'll go on record as loathing the "goofy"--agreed--Reptyl.
Posted by: Instantiation | August 15, 2015 1:16 PM
I actually think the progression through the elements with the heralds is awesome and wasn't something that I ever realized until going through this site.
My issue with Firelord is that all he does is show up and want to fight somebody because of a misunderstanding.
Meets the X-Men, fights them. Meets Spider-Man, fights him. Meets the Avengers, fights them. Follows the Avengers and screws everything up. Even here, meets Silver Surfer, fights him. Does he ever not just be a hothead and get into the misunderstanding fight?
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 15, 2015 4:18 PM
Well, when your very hair is flame ... but I hear you.
I've long speculated, btw, that Firelord may have been influenced to some degree by the DC character Wildfire.
Firelord debuted in Thor #225, July 1974. Wildfire, initially as ERG-1, in Superboy #195, June 1973.
Even more than their names and powers, it's their volatile temperaments that suggest the influence. But this is just speculation on my part. Would be interested if anyone has any hard info on this. Other characters were apparently influenced by the concept of Wildfire's containment suit.
Posted by: Instantiation | August 15, 2015 7:07 PM
Oh god, I hope not. Wildfire is one of my all-time favorite characters. I see him as more obnoxiously arrogant (like Hawkeye). Plus, he has the downside of dealing with not having a body, so his irritability is more understandable.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 15, 2015 7:16 PM
Wildfire's up there for me too.
Going the other way, DC brought out a flame-haired character of its own in March 1978: Firestorm. And he was co-created by Gerry Conway, who also co-created Firelord.
Posted by: Instantiation | August 16, 2015 10:34 AM
I think it was Gerry Conway during his LOSH run who made Wildfire more prominent and more arrogant as well(he didn't come off that way when Cary Bates wrote him).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 16, 2015 11:06 AM
Neat point, which ties things together rather nicely. Cool to unearth these kinds of connections.
Levitz and Starlin, who also wrote some of those post-Bates issues, featured Wildfire more prominently too -- as in 250-51, in which Brainiac 5's effort to destroy the universe with the Miracle Machine is in a similar mold to various of Starlin's tales about Thanos with an all-powerful thingamabob. Doubt anyone forgets the scene in which Wildfire blows Legion HQ in a (futile) effort to stop Omega. And would be interesting to explore other connections between LOSH and Marvel, such as Timber Wolf seemingly anticipating Wolverine, Cockrum originally intending to introduce Nightcrawler and a Storm-like character in the title before moving over to the then-new X-Men, etc.
Not surprising that some of Starlin's earliest DC work was on its most cosmic/epic title, just as later he'd be drawn to this Surfer series.
Posted by: Instantiation | August 17, 2015 8:56 AM
Actually, Starlin's first DC work was some uncredited short stories in some mystery anthologies, which showed up about the same time as his Captain Marvel run.
LOSH did indeed become DC's most Marvel-like title in the late 1970s, but I suspect that's because DC specifically hired Gerry Conway to bring Marvel-style continuity and writing to the books he worked on. And before that, Jim Shooter in the 1960s definitely was inspired by Marvel's style when he did the LOSH under Mort Weisinger(the back cover to the last issue of Legion Outpost did show a fake Marvel-style LOSH cover).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 17, 2015 11:20 AM
Fnord, you mention that the Silver Surfer stopped being Galactus's herald in "Silver Surfer#50", but I'm sure you meant "Fantastic Four #50".
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | August 17, 2015 12:49 PM
(Just for the record, I carefully wrote, "some of Starlin's earliest DC work.")
Yes, Shooter was apparently studying Marvel comics at the time when he began writing for "Adventure Comics" -- in his early teens!
It seems pretty clear that his famous Sun-Eater story was a response to the original Galactus trilogy, published a few months earlier. (But no Star Trek-style cloud monster was going to be as cool as the Big G, even if it had an even bigger appetite. More memorable are the awesome Fatal Five.)
In terms of other LOSH influences on Marvel, I think you could point to apparent borrowings of concepts/powers from some Legionnaires for Marvel villains, such as Cosmic Boy preceding Magneto and Element Lad just barely preceding the Molecule Man.
Posted by: Instantiation | August 17, 2015 12:55 PM
@The Transparent Fox - thanks, fixed it.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 17, 2015 1:02 PM
Also at DC--a few months after the LSH's Sun-Eater story Instantiation mentions--the Galactus story was parodied in Metamorpho #14-15, written by Bob Haney.
Posted by: Shar | August 17, 2015 3:45 PM
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