Silver Surfer annual #1
Issue(s): Silver Surfer annual #1
I'd like to say that the master of connections, Steve Englehart, finds a way to connect the Evolutionary event with the Silver Surfer in some clever way, but that really isn't the case. The Surfer did already have a reason for returning to Earth (to check on Mantis' baby now that she's thought to be dead), which is necessary for his participation in the event. And on his way back he does discover the the Super-Skrull has been revived (it turns out that's what the dying Skrull with what i called a "flare" was up to at the end of Silver Surfer #14)...
...so it does continue the story from the regular series. But the main story here has the High Evolutionary showing up at the Olympia of the Eternals...
...and asking them to map the Silver Surfer's DNA, with the pitch that he's a lot like a Celestial.
I don't find that very compelling, and i'm surprised that the Eternals do. They revere or at least respect the Celestials and i don't think they'd take kindly to the idea of a human trying to replicate their work or anticipate their plans. But despite Sersi calling him a "cornball", they agree to help him. Even though it means kidnapping another being, which also seems out of character.
The Silver Surfer and the Super-Skrull are in combat when the Eternals arrive...
...and so they capture them both.
The Surfer refuses to participate voluntarily but the Eternals persist. As for the Super-Skrull, one connection Englehart does find is the idea he established earlier, that the Skrulls are the Deviant strain of their species. So the Eternals decide to experiment on him, too, with the hopes that studying a Space Deviant might teach them something they don't already know about the Deviants of Earth.
The Eternals are positively Mengeleian in their treatment of the Super-Skrull.
It's not clear that the Eternals know that Super-Skrull has been a super-villain on Earth, and if that were the case maybe it would mitigate this a little for me, even if so i find it hard to believe Thena and Karkas, at a minimum, standing for the torture they're putting the Skrull through.
This is one of those cases where i could totally accept the Eternals having a moral code that is alien to me if only it wasn't coming into play at this late date.
Anyway, the Silver Surfer definitely objects even if no one else does, and he manages to break free and free the Skrull as well.
The Super-Skrull intially flees rather than help the Surfer fight the Eternals (in part because he's eager to go back and help his people now that he's learned about all the events leading up to the second Kree-Skrull War), but the Eternals catch up to him and the Silver Surfer has to save him again.
This time, the Surfer tells him to go ahead and go back to his people, hoping that, since the Super-Skrull retains his shape-shifting power, the Skrulls may find a way to restore it to the rest of their people, which could end the war (the Kree-Skrull War, not the Evolutionary War).
The Eternals, at this point, decide to not press matters further, but they do admonish the Surfer both for freeing the Skrull which may "doom the universe" and not donating his DNA, which could doom the Earth. The Surfer's response, i guess?, is that the Eternals are not gods (and, i suppose, therefore they have no idea what's a good idea and what's not).
Kind of a weird detour for The Evolutionary War. At least since the High Evolutionary has outsourced this to the Eternals, i can't complain that he's wasting his own resources in another pointless sidequest. I imagine if the Silver Surfer hadn't returned to Earth, the Evolutionary wouldn't have thought to bother with him at all. I'd actually think the Evolutionary would be more interested in the Eternals and i would have liked to see more of that interaction than having them be so credulous. It's still fun to see a fight between the Silver Surfer, the Super-Skrull, and the Eternals, though.
Just a final random note: When the Silver Surfer departs, he makes mention of having once meditated for two days on Mt. Olympus and not seeing any sign of the Eternals.
Joe Staton, who had been filling in on art on the regular series, draws the main story in this annual, but Ron Lim, who will soon be taking over, draws two back-up features (one inked by Christopher Ivy and one by Randy Emberlin) that are really more like promos than actual stories. The first has Nova discovering that Galactus didn't manage to digest the Elders of the Universe after all...
...and he now needs Reed and Sue Richards, but especially Sue.
Nova telepathically contacts the Surfer (she can do that?) and so even though he was going to investigate the High Evolutionary further, he instead heads off to visit the Richardses.
In the second back-up, Mantis turns out to be alive.
She wakes up on Earth in a home where she's apparently been keeping an identity as Mandy Celestine, but she doesn't remember any of that (and there's no sign or mention of her baby). And she seems to have lost her ability to speak with plants. So she decides to contact some of her human friends.
I cover the Saga of the High Evolutionary back-up in a separate entry.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place between Silver Surfer #14-15. It takes "one week" after the Surfer says goodbye to Nova for him to arrive on Earth. Mantis' reappearance here takes place before West Coast Avengers #37. This is part three of The Evolutionary War; New Mutants annual #4 is next.
Crossover: The Evolutionary War
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
The MCP has the Surfer's appearance in the Fear-Eater story in Marvel Comics Presents 1 in between this issue and Silver Surfer 15. That's not an ideal placement but the problem is that the Captain Fear-Eater story in Marvel Comics Presents 2 has to take place either between Captain America 344 and 345 or between Captain America 348 and Avengers Annual 17.
Posted by: Michael | July 8, 2014 9:47 PM
Thanks, Michael. I should be getting to those MCPs soon - i've been waiting until i get to the appropriate break in the X-Men book for the main Wolverine story and i'm at that point now. And yeah, i'll count this as a full Mantis appearance rather than break it down into multiple "characters".
Posted by: fnord12 | July 8, 2014 10:21 PM
This was certainly an odd detour with flimsy plot justifications. But reading this review made me wonder if it is also not a critique of the Eternals' background.
For all that we are unused to seeing it front and center, the concept of the Eternals was always oddly, unconfortably eugenic and manicheistisc. This story reads a lot like the Surfer saying (in Englehart's stead) that the whole premise is morally questionable and suspect even beyond that.
Which it is; Jack Kirby as a plotter made intriguing premises, but they were often deeply flawed.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 9, 2014 5:17 AM
Joe Staton did a great job with this annual.
Bob Hall did a great homage to Alpha Flight #9 with the cover - it is a fantastic image, after all.
Fnord, you may be correct in that SS was Steve's best '80s series. I happened to enjoy his FF and WCA as well, but I'd been missing most of the early SS books.
Posted by: Vin the Comic Guy | March 9, 2015 4:22 PM
Surfer here 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. This implies that the origins of the Eternals may be something different than Celestial tampering millions of years ago. What did Englehart have planned here?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 24, 2016 9:11 PM
The story was okay, never been a fan of the Eternals. Kept distracting me that the blonde one looked so much like He-Man. Did like the characterization of Super Skrull though, that was part was well done by Enhgleheart. To each their own, but the art was really rough here in my opinion.
Posted by: RikFenix | May 30, 2016 2:18 PM
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