Silver Surfer #50
Issue(s): Silver Surfer #50
The issue itself is pretty good, too. It's possible that originally this issue would have been Silver Surfer's final confrontation with Thanos, before that storyline grew into the Infinity Gauntlet event. But Surfer still gets a confrontation with a Thanos in this issue.
Granted it's just a stone statue, but it is controlled by the real one, and has the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet behind it. And despite getting some good licks in...
...the Silver Surfer does get his ass kicked around. He is having a little trouble accepting the fact that Thanos is omnipotent, apparently.
The Surfer does manage to destroy the statue again, leaving behind just the head. Thanos could have kept the fight going, but he got bored.
And when the Silver Surfer moves on from that encounter to head to Earth to warn the heroes about Thanos' return, he winds up passing out and crashing through Dr. Strange's window.
But the physical battle is actually not the point of the issue. Most of this issue is devoted to flashbacks. The Thanos statue incapacitates the Silver Surfer multiple times, and delves into his mind to see his past.
Interesting that young Norrin Radd's father Jartan says that when Norrin gets to his age, he'll realize how little time you get. The residents of Zenn-La seem to be incredibly long lived, given that the Surfer said in Silver Surfer #5 that he served Galactus for centuries (and Shalla Bal has been alive all that time). So do the residents of Zenn-La have children very late in life, or do they remain children for a long time, or is Jartan just speaking in relative terms?
Norrin's relationship with his father is something that Thanos explores, and he seems to know in advance how things played out.
We learn that Norrin's mother killed herself early in Norrin's life, a victim of the ennui that was prevalent on the utopian planet of Zenn-La. Others on the planet became addicted to drugs for the same reason. Jartan Radd saw the fact that everything in life was provided for them as very dangerous, and was raising Norrin to believe the same.
When Norrin came of age, he had his hair removed by laser.
Norrin later learns that his father plagiarized the work of another scientist. And Norrin can't forgive his father, and stops talking to him. So Jartan commits suicide too. That contributes to Norrin's own emotional withdrawal.
So he was basically suppressing his emotions even before Galactus came along.
This revelation, coming on top of Galactus restoring the Silver Surfer's emotions and memories in Silver Surfer #48, put the Surfer in a poor state for the upcoming Infinity Gauntlet event. This stuff will be dealt with (poorly) in the Surfer's Infinity Gauntlet tie-in issues. Those issues begin Ron Marz's run in earnest (Marz wrote last issue, but then Starlin returned for this one). Starlin's final issue here allows him to end on a high note. It does have the advantage of the Empire Strikes Back effect, a story where the bad guys essentially win. But even beyond that, the flashback revelations - the kind of thing that always runs a high risk of annoying me for not ringing true or flatly contradicting previous accounts - work really well, adding a layer to the Surfer's backstory. The idea that Zenn La was a technological wonderland that nonetheless caused at least some people to feel listless was a part of the story from the original Surfer series, but the examples here (the suicides, the drugs) give it more emotional impact, making it more than just "people get bored". And adding the personal tragedies in the Surfer's background explain a lot about him - the fact that his emotionless state is often broke up by fits of rage, for example.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: We'll see the Silver Surfer crashing through Dr. Strange's window in Infinity Gauntlet #1, which begins a little prior to the end of this issue. We'll also see it in Doctor Strange #31, a tie-in to Infinity Gauntlet #1.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I'm interested in how this story evolved from a Silver Surfer arc into a company-wide event. Is there a blog post or something I could read about that?
Posted by: Andrew F | October 8, 2015 7:00 PM
It's just speculation that sounded plausible to me. Bob laid out the theory in the comments here. As Bob notes, when Thanos was resurrected, the idea was that the Silver Surfer was the only one that could stop him, which certainly isn't how Infinity Gauntlet resolves. After that we had a number of detours (Dynamo City) and issues that seemed designed to tread water. Which suggests, but definitely doesn't prove, a change of plans.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 8, 2015 7:11 PM
I could also buy that this was a Silver Surfer story jumped up to company crossover.
The same thing happened to Green Lantern during Geoff Johns' run. His Sinestro Corps War storyline was so popular that it made Green Lantern one of DC's best selling titles so editorial turned Johns' next big storyline (Blackest Night) into a company-wide crossover.
Posted by: Red Comet | October 8, 2015 8:24 PM
I've heard rumors--and bear in mind, just rumors, no confirmed interviews or anything--that this was originally an idea that Gruenwald had for QUASAR, but that Starlin got wind of it and convinced th' powers that be to let him handle in in SILVER SURFER, since Thanos and the Soul/Infinty Gems were his creations, and then after that in blossomed into this whole giant event. Again, just a rumor, but it might explain why QUASAR and the various INFINITY books (including WATCH) sometimes seem to be sniping at each other.
Posted by: Thanos6 | October 8, 2015 9:29 PM
I have a vague memory that IG was initially promoted in Marvel Age or somewhere as taking place "in upcoming issues of Silver Surfer" with no mention of a limited series.
The entire kickoff of Starlin's run hinted at a much larger and pivotal role for the Surfer, hence the dream sequence in #34 and Thanos seeking him out, as well as the line of dialogue prophecizing how he was the one being who could stop Thanos.
Posted by: Bob | October 8, 2015 10:01 PM
Lim was at the peak of his powers here. The texture on stone Thanos looks great.
Posted by: Bob | October 8, 2015 10:02 PM
I don't think that Zenn-Lavians die of old age. I think they all commit suicide eventually.
Posted by: Steven | October 9, 2015 11:37 AM
Comments are now closed.
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