Jay Demetrick :
Silver Surfer #4
Issue(s): Silver Surfer #4
The last we saw of Mantis she was ascending into heaven to bond with the plant creatures known as the Cotati, and now she's become an uber-cosmic plant woman, with green skin, the ability to listen through plants, transport herself from planet to planet via the planets' vegetation, and more. Even the healing herbs that she's been giving the Surfer contain a portion of her, so that she can oversee their efficacy.
She's also had a child, and she's been spending time taking care of him, on Earth in fact...
...but "now a time of solitude has come for him, and he needs his mother not! Thus, this one reappears!".
It also turns out that she is the reason that the Surfer knew about the Grandmaster's plans for the Avengers...
...and she also knows where the Elders are currently gathering. Unfortunately that world doesn't have any vegetation, so she needs the Surfer to transport her there.
When they arrive on a strange world, we find all of the Elders that we've met so far in various Marvel comics, plus four more.
The strange landscape of the planet they've gathered on...
...and the shape of one of those four, is an exciting giveaway to those of us with a deep knowledge of Marvel history, and the other three are named Astronomer, Obliterator, and Trader.
While eavesdropping on the Elders, the Surfer learns that everything was not what it seemed in the recent Contest of Champions sequel. It turns out that the Grandmaster deliberately "lost" that event so that Death would reject him and, in doing so, reject all of the Elders, ensuring that instead of them just being long-lived, they are now truly immortal. That's pretty cool and gives those nonsensical Avengers annuals more significance. The history of the Elders is also laid out: each is the sole survivor of the first races to form in this universe, and they've stayed alive so far by devoting themselves to their individual passions (which is how i'm going to outlive the rest of you by becoming the Archiver).
It's also said that the reason the Runner was able to defeat the Silver Surfer but the Champion wasn't is because the Surfer was weak after his fight with Dead Korvac in Avengers annual #16. It turns out their plan is to kill Galactus, and while we don't learn why, exactly, we do learn that it's related to the fact that he is even older than they are, since he is the last survivor of the previous universe while they are only the first of the current one.
Before we learn any more, we learn who the fourth of the new Elders is, and it's Ego the Living Planet...
...who is indeed the sole survivor of his race.
The Surfer and Mantis manage to flee the planet...
...and share a brief kiss.
The other big news relates to the increasingly likely rekindling of the Kree-Skrull War. The Supreme Intelligence deduces that the Skrulls have lost their shape-changing ability...
...and sends out a Captain Tar-rell to confirm that. Meanwhile, on one of the planets of the fractured Skrull kingdom, a Celestial arrives.
As the caption says, more on this next time.
This series plays to all of Englehart's strengths. First, he's got a great artist in Marshall Rogers and the decision to go big panel-wise means even when Englehart gets wordy the overall effect isn't overwhelming. And if the dialogue gets a little stilted, well, we're dealing with the Silver Surfer and the Elders of the Universe and other cosmic entities. Beyond that, the topics let Englehart dig into and expand upon the great cosmic history of the universe in a way that doesn't feel contrived - we'll see more of that next issue as well. These all might seem like backhanded compliments but i am really enjoying this series in a way that i haven't for his other 80s Marvel books like West Coast Avengers.
If i have any complaints it's that the new Elders are all dudes, and the newly introduced short, big-nosed "Trader" has a Ferengi problem.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Contemplator appearing here will later be revealed to be a Skrull (locked into the form at the time they lost their shape-shifting powers).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
Note that the wording of the Obliterator's dialogue("Ego is the last of his race because there never was another like him!") seems designed to cast doubt on Ego's account of his origin in Thor 228.
Posted by: Michael | April 17, 2014 7:59 PM
The ways and philosophies of the Elders are unknowable to me. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | April 17, 2014 8:31 PM
I enjoy this run as much as you do, Fnord. But I do think Engelhart screws up the Elders. As Michael notes, now they're all basically evil, they all have a generic origin as survivors of long-dead races, and the mystery and individuality that most of the earliest Elders had disappears and thy become, basically, D'Spayre-like in their one-dimensionality. Not that they didn't have their specialties before, of course, but now that's all they have.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 17, 2014 9:08 PM
At least we got to see a lot of use from the Elders in this series.
I'm still confused about the origin of the Elders though..most of them are extremely humanoid. I don't think the oldest alien races in the Marvel Universe were beings that looked like humans.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | April 17, 2014 9:29 PM
Mantis' story actually ran through three different comic companies. After Englehart left Marvel, he wrote a Justice League story featuring Mantis pregnant (she wasn't given a name, I think she just referred to herself as "This one"). Then, Englehart's creator owned series Scorpio Rose featured the story of Mantis giving birth.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | April 17, 2014 9:33 PM
I still like the Elders. I think there is a big difference between characters that are anthropomorphized concepts, and characters that are obsessive about a particular subject. The former are one dimensional. There is little room for personality. The latter are still individuals first, although ones with extreme force of will (that basically allows them to survive death) but which still allows for personality quirks.
Nor do I necessarily think wanting to kill Galactus makes them evil. First, it can easily be argued he is a mass murderer that needs to be stopped even if others reject that. Second, even if you assume Galactus is simply a force of nature, stopping a natural force is far different from actual killing of a mortal. Regardless of how this is actually executed, there's a lot of good concepts, conflicts, and plots that can be generated by that.
Posted by: Chris | April 17, 2014 9:33 PM
The problem, Chris, is that the dialogue makes it clear that the Elders *believe* that destroying Galactus will destroy the universe. There's no way to have them try to destroy the universe without them being evil.
Posted by: Michael | April 17, 2014 9:40 PM
Interestingly, in the 2011 Astonishing Thor series, it's said that Ego is 1 of 2 living planets created by the Stranger with a little help of information from the Collector, who as a reward for his help gets to add "Alter Ego" to his collection. As far as I know, that's still canon, so Ego should definitely not be considered an Elder, and the Collector knows it.
Posted by: Andrew | May 8, 2017 9:41 PM
...but my favorite Ego story has to be the non-canon Marvel Adventure Avengers #12, "Ego, the Loving Planet," in which Ego is a cosmic playah, attracted by Earth's fine, fine ice caps...
Posted by: Andrew | May 8, 2017 9:59 PM
I know Galactus would like to sink his teeth into that. He can make the Himalayas tremble, and melt the polar ice caps.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 8, 2017 10:44 PM
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