Marvel Comics Presents #1 (Silver Surfer)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #1 (Silver Surfer story only)
The creature has in fact died from fear. It was infected with a parasite called the Fear Eater that caused it to panic and expel its breath in deep space, and so it died. While the Surfer is inspecting it, he gets infected by the Fear Eater...
...which tries to get the Surfer to experience fear. It does this first by bringing him to Earth and making him believe that he's trapped there again...
...and then by turning him back into Norrin Radd.
But in the long-run (relatively speaking; this is an 8 page story), the Silver Surfer regains his composure and the Fear Eater is expelled.
This and the other three parts of this Fear Eater story are exactly the sort of garbage that made the Marvel Comics Presents series a risky buy. One of the appeals of the series was as a showcase of characters of the Marvel universe, but all the characters in this Fear Eater story had their own books. And no one needed an all-Al Milgrom showcase, either.
There's nothing that ties this into the Silver Surfer's regular series and obviously nothing here will have any impact on the character (and in fact it's difficult to place in the character's regular continuity, as discussed below). And truly there isn't much of a story here; the purpose of the Fear Eater device is to provide a little character study. We get a summary of the character as the Fear Eater infects him...
...and then we are shown the character's worst fears and how he overcomes them. The exact same formula will be used for the remaining three parts. So these features are one step above a Handbook entry. Which might make sense if we were dealing with more obscure characters, but again, all of the characters in this story had their own books, and it's especially unlikely readers of this series needed primers on Captain America, the Thing, or Thor, the characters that are featured in the remaining parts. Nor was anything about Milgrom's art (which is better here than in his Hulk or WCA runs) or writing sending readers running to the characters' regular books. So this comes across as pure filler, and when one-fourth of this high priced weekly book had stuff like this, it made it a lot less likely that i was going to be following it.
The Fear Eater race will appear in a few issues of Dr. Strange among Marvel's other fear-based entities like Nightmare and D'Spayre, and we'll assume this guy is among them so we can tag him as a character appearing.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part one of a loosely connected four part story featuring the Fear Eater. Part three of this series references in passing the events of Captain America #344 (just for clarification: the third part features the Thing, not Cap). But placing all four issues of the story after that presents challenges, especially for the Silver Surfer. The Surfer has a companion - either Mantis or Nova - for much of his series, at least through issue #19. So having him appear alone in this story circa Cap #344 (Aug 88) is difficult. The one time he's alone is when he goes back to Earth to seek Mantis' son after Silver Surfer #14 (also Aug 88, which may sound serendipitous, but read on). But in this issue he's clearly shocked and dismayed to be returned to Earth, which wouldn't make sense if that was his intended destination. Surfer #14 continues in Silver Surfer annual #1, which shows him arriving in Earth's atmosphere and meeting the Super-Skrull (while note that he's flying away from Earth at the end of this story), and it ends with Nova contacting him and asking him to bring Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman to help Galactus, which he does at the beginning of Surfer #15. So at no time between Surfer #14-15 does it make sense for him to be surfing in deep space. Instead i'm breaking this story up and placing this back between Silver Surfer #1-2, which is pretty much the only time that he can be alone in space prior to Captain America #344 (he could also be there between Surfer #2-3, but the Surfer also flies to Earth between those issues for West Coast Avengers annual #2 so i'd again have the problem of him flying away from Earth only to immediately return to it). Note that the Silver Surfer is the Fear Eater's ride to Earth, so i can't rule that the Earth appearing here is just an illusion. The next part of this story has Steve Rogers in his Captain persona and he makes a reference to his team of sidekicks which includes Vagabond, so i'm pushing the next part significantly further ahead, which means that the Fear Eater is on Earth for a while before acting again (as far as we know). Fear Eater only says in that issue that he came to Earth "recently" which allows room for a gap, especially considering Marvel's sliding timescale.
Note that with this Considerations section i have written more words than appear in the entire story here.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Some of the Marvel Chronology Presents stories unfortunately could not fit in at the time they were published. The Cloak story in Marvel Comics Presents 9 either has to take place before Strange Tales 16 or during or after Cloak and Dagger 8, since there's no free time in between those issues when Cloak is on Earth and available to appear- the MCP decided to put it during Cloak and Dagger 8. even though it was published almost a year earlier. Then there's the Excalibur story, which features Kitty and Widget on Earth with Excalibur- the MCP had to move it after Excalibur 34 because that's the earliest opportunity for it to take place, even though it was published a year and a half earlier.
Posted by: Michael | July 28, 2014 9:36 PM
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