Silver Surfer #8-10
Issue(s): Silver Surfer #8, Silver Surfer #9, Silver Surfer #10
...Silver Surfer riding Rex the Wonder Dog...
...and Silver Surfer riding an eagle fighting whatever that thing is.
I will be watching the reveal that Contemplator is really a Skrull very carefully, considering the powers he displays.
I also don't love the way the Surfer escapes the Soul Gem, which is by subconsciously pulling his surfboard into the Supreme Intelligence's brain because it's "as one with me", and that allows him to escape.
Actually, i do like that; what i don't like is the really mundane way that the Surfer escaped the Earth in Silver Surfer #1. Either the board is a part of him (in which case leaving the board behind shouldn't have made a difference, or it's just an object that he has a connection to, and shouldn't grant him any extra special powers here (compare to Firelord in Avengers #258: "The power rests not in the staff, human, but in me!").
Anyway, that's a minor point. The Surfer escapes, taking the Supreme Intelligence's Soul Gem with him, leaving Supremor a mental wreck.
That leaves that Kree woman above, Nenora, in charge of the Kree empire. Except she's actually a Skrull stuck in Kree form.
Meanwhile, Shalla Bal tries to contact Mantis through the plants on Zen-La created by the power cosmic that was granted to her by the Silver Surfer, but she winds up getting the Gardener instead, and is taken prisoner.
Another thing i'll want to look at more closely when i get there is later on when the Infinity Gems are each defined as having unique attributes. When Jim Starlin originally introduced the idea of multiple gems, they were all Soul Gems and that's how Englehart is using them here. But Warlock originally had the actual Soul Gem, and that's (i presume) the one that was left on his grave that the Gardener subsequently picked up. But Supremor's Gem certainly seems to be functioning like the Soul Gem, too. I guess it could also be the Mind Gem, or maybe Supremor's great intelligence allowed him to expand its usage, or maybe the gem that was left on Warlock's grave wasn't really his own. Obviously all of this isn't in play yet; i'm just wondering how it should work out based on my half-remembered knowledge of the Infinity Gems.
For now, the Elders all have Soul Gems, and they've also captured both Mantis and Shalla Bal. The Silver Surfer is contacted by the Elders, and he rushes to their location.
Cosmological quibbles aside, this is really a great arc full of big ideas and cosmic coolness. If only Steve Englehart didn't have to write any women for it.
Really, Shalla Bal? Now, while you're held captive by the Elders of the Universe, and all of reality is at stake, you're going to get in some digs at the Surfer's new girlfriend?
Also, why are the Elders standing on that floating cone? Where's Ego the Living Planet? I know we'll find out (about a year) later, but don't introduce him as an Elder and then just leave him out of their big end scheme!
Anyway, the Surfer agrees to give up the gem, but the Grandmaster isn't such a good sport, so he throws the Surfer's lady friends into the heart of a star. Surfer manages to rescue only Shalla Bal. "I couldn't carry both! I reached for Mantis!", he says disappointed. Hopefully Shalla Bal is unconscious for that, but she soon wakes up, and the two discuss the intensity of human emotion, and how in comparison Zen-Laians are so cold. Obviously the Surfer enjoyed the intensity of Mantis' interest in him, but it's funny how the Surfer only talks positively about humans now that he's free of their planet.
While the Surfer is rescuing Shalla Bal, the Elders trick Galactus into coming to them by mimicking Nova's signal while she is off searching for a planet for him to eat.
The Elders catch him in their trap.
Nova is unable to stop them.
But the Surfer comes back with a plan. The Elder's trap involves six planets orbiting a sun, each with a gem, draining Galactus' power. The Surfer tells Nova to destroy the sun.
The Surfer and Nova are pulled into the resultant Black Hole as well, but the Surfer says if it comes to that, at least he'll ensure the end of the Elders. Despite his earlier snippy attitude, Nova decides that the Surfer isn't "the jerk I thought he was".
Galactus restores himself by eating the Elders' planets, and then he rescues the heralds and then eats the Elders (except for Astronomer, Trader, and Possessor, who were pulled into the black Hole).
Nom nom nom nom!
I like Nova's expression while she watches this. Something like admiration. She's already demonstrated that she's the perfect herald because she doesn't judge Galactus the way the other "good" heralds have or scheme against him the way Terrax did.
With Obliterator also defeated, Galactus says that Contemplator (who is still in the Kree empire) is the only Elder left (what about Ego?!), so he tells Nova to go capture him. He asks, or more like demands, that the Silver Surfer go with her, in what the Surfer later realizes is a very human attempt to help the Surfer get over the death of Mantis.
I love the angles that Marshall Rogers draws the characters at. There is no "up" in space.
It's confirmed in the above sequence that the Zenn La race is long lived, with the Surfer's time of imprisonment on earth only being a "fraction" of a Zenn-Lavian lifespan.
Surfer reluctantly agrees to accompany Nova. But before they get too far away, the Surfer stops, because he senses something awesome is about to happen. And indeed, soon Eternity manifests to talk with Galactus in the aftermath of the Elders' attempt to kill Galactus, and through Galactus, him.
The Elders had been calling Galactus "alien", and Galactus also acknowledges that that's what he is, since he comes from the previous universe.
It turns out (i think!) that Eternity had been working to thwart the Elders' scheme by, er, meditating on the pure idea of continuity, which caused the Celestials to land on the Skrull world...
...and which therefore kicked off the new Kree-Skrull War which ultimately led the Silver Surfer to acquire the Soul Gem from the Supreme Intelligence. As it turned out, the Surfer did give the gem to the Elders (although ultimately managing to stop them anyway), and so Galactus calls him the weak link in Eternity's plan. But Eternity says "no idea can descend into manifestation without an imperfection".
Well, there you go.
As the Surfer and Nova then fly off to Kree space, the topic of the Fantastic Four comes up, and we get a glimpse into the FF on Earth. The Black Panther is there too, and it looks like they are cleaning up after the recent fight with Dr. Doom.
Not sure Rogers was given a proper model for the new Thing designs.
Meanwhile, in Kree space, we see the secret Skrull Nenora visited by her boyfriend Aptak, the Skrull stuck in the weird form of a Wazilian.
Aptak thinks that with Nenora positioned as the new Kree leader, things are going to go well for the Skrulls. But Nenora has other ideas, and winds up poisoning Aptak so that she can retain her position.
Back with Galactus, the Elders are giving him a little indigestion.
And that's the least of his problems.
Majestic art (and colors) by Marshall Rogers depicting the doings of these massive cosmic entities. And this really is a great story by Englehart, miles beyond the rest of his 1980s work.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place soon after Fantastic Four #312.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
Look at it this way fnord- at least Shalla-Bal didn't refuse to help Earthlings because she dated one once and he was a jerk.
Posted by: Michael | May 14, 2014 8:09 PM
I'm not a huge fan of Englehart's run on "Silver Surfer," but it was a serious attempt to write a 30+ issue storyline, which we'll see by the time we get to the final six issues. It wasn't 'high art,' but aspired to something more than the usual Marvel comics of the time. [Or earlier; honestly, the only Englehart comics I love are his short Batman period with Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin, and his work on "Green Lantern" with Joe Staton.]
Posted by: ChrisW | May 14, 2014 8:55 PM
Englehart's Surfer run suffered from DeFalco's interference. For example, it was DeFalco that demanded Englehart write Mantis out, which is why she kept appearing in West Coast Avengers and Silver Surfer.
Posted by: Michael | May 14, 2014 10:52 PM
Was the last issue code-approved? When Peter David wrote a DC comic years later showing the Martian Manhunter disguised as a woman kissing another woman, the Comics Code people thoroughly objected.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 17, 2014 6:18 PM
All these issues do have the Comics Code Authority seal.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 17, 2014 6:49 PM
I know Englehart was going to reveal more in relation to this plot-thread on the Celestials, since in Silver Surfer Annual #1, Norrin recalls to the Eternals how when he was trapped on Earth by Galactus, he meditated once on the peak their city, Olympia, occupies, and it wasn't there, let alone for the millennia they claim. I know that story wasn't complete, but it implied that the origins of the Eternals may be something different than Celestial tampering millions of years ago.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 17, 2014 10:19 PM
"Either the board is a part of him (in which case leaving the board behind shouldn't have made a difference, or it's just an object that he has a connection to, and shouldn't grant him any extra special powers here".
FNORD - Couldn't you say that once he reformed the board after leaving Earth, it changed the properties of the board?
Posted by: clyde | June 17, 2015 2:32 PM
This is all just a minor quibble on my part because i don't like how he escaped issue #1 on Earth, and i'm only responding because you put my name in your comment. You're definitely entitled to think that's what happened. But to me, either the board is a part of him or it's not. He didn't reconfigure the board after leaving Earth to make it a part of him. And if the board is a part of him, i don't see why Galactus would put the restraint on the board specifically. Not a big deal; it just feels like a minor thematic mismatch to me.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 17, 2015 3:11 PM
There's no other word for these issues than epically cool. The trifecta of Galactus eating the Elders, conferring with Eternity, and then getting indigestion from the Elders was just way too awesome.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 28, 2015 8:15 PM
Didn't the Surfer ever once try slowly raising himself from a 90-degree angle to pass through the barrier? Or even quickly, going up at a horizontal angle would have passed him through the barrier, left his board behind, left him trapped in space, and then he'd be able to call his board exactly as he did in #1.
I have the same problem with the end of "Star Wars" (the real movie) in that the Rebellion has just sent all of their ships, pilots and droids into a killzone for several minutes, dodging TIE fighters and flying down the trench, then Han Solo proves that all you need to do is land on the exhaust port and fire. Problem solved. In "Star Wars," it works. Here, not so much.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 28, 2015 11:18 PM
Sure, the REAL reason the Soul Gems are going to change to the Infinity Gems that each have unique attributes and behavior is because the Silver Surfer book changes writers, but I have an in-continuity explanation that I think you might enjoy:
In the beginning of Thanos Quest, Warlock's Soul Gem is owned by the In-Betweener (last seen in Silver Surfer 18) and the other five are owned by various Elders of the Universe. I put forth the notion that the individual attributes of the gems have been shaped by their owners.
All six gems could devolve into being parasitic like Warlock's vampire Soul Gem if left in improper hands. Warlock himself only managed to master the gem in Warlock #15. By then it was too late and the gem, like a wild, untrained dog, was dangerous -- so dangerous that even touching it could rip your soul away (as warned in Silver Surfer #15). Maybe Warlock never had a soul to begin with, being an artificial man, but that's another debate entirely...
The Elders could master their individual gems, like Warlock eventually did -- and be faster about it than Warlock, being more experienced with cosmic artifacts. So here's the breakdown:
The Time Gem was shaped by the Gardener. He used it to both hasten the growth of his plant-life and to preserve it at its highest state of beauty.
The Power Gem was shaped by the Champion, for whom strength is what matters most.
The Space Gem was shaped by the Runner, who wanted to travel across the entire cosmos and visit every place in existence.
The Mind Gem was shaped by the Grandmaster, whose forte has always been manipulation and being able to out-think an opponent.
As for Reality Gem, well...the covetous Collector, like Warlock, let his gem go to seed. For the Collector it was more about having the gem rather than taming it. Therefore, it wasn't actually shaped until Thanos (master of the TIME-MIND SYNC-WARP! as seen in Captain Marvel #28) got hold of it.
Like in jewelry making, rough stones are cut by a master craftsman who shapes them to reflect their purest brilliance. So to have the Soul Gems been "cut" by cosmic beings.
-- and if you can buy that, I have a bridge to sell you...
Posted by: Jon | October 6, 2015 1:18 PM
This does make sense. It switches cause and effect for how the Elders wind up with the gems that they have by Thanos Quest. And instead of it just so happening that the majority of the Elders find gems that perfectly suit their esoteric interests, the idea that the Elders unconsciously shaped the gems provides an actual reason for that. And as you say, explains why for so long they were all just called Soul Gems. I bet someone will come along with a reason why it can't work, but i think it's a cool idea.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 6, 2015 2:00 PM
I don't think Ego would be that eager to go up against Galactus. Granted he has a better track record in that regard than any planet other than Earth, but Galactus' track record has very few failures to show over billions of years. And Ego's anti-social, so he doesn't really have a 'you killed my friends/family' excuse for revenge.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 28, 2016 8:57 PM
I believe that the "Soul Gem" that the Supreme Intelligence had is the one that first appeared in Captain Marvel #45. In that story, both Rick Jones and Mar-Vell entered the gem (which was a large sphere at the time, like the gems are in SS #9) so that they could (supposedly) try to treat the fact that their two identities were merging into one. Official Handbooks have since identified that gem as the Mind Gem.
Also, in that CM issue the General mentioned that, though each of the six soul gems has a different power, they are all equally effective on the mind. And this was before Thanos gathered them all for the first time so they were different even before Jim Starlin got to them.
Posted by: Don Campbell | April 25, 2016 1:57 AM
Bought in real time and still own them and have read to my kids. My son loves them, my daughter less so but she still doesn't mind them. She prefers Power Pack. For me this was an epic run of very high quality from Englehart.
Posted by: Grom | September 13, 2016 9:59 AM
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