Silver Surfer: Judgment Day (Marvel Graphic Novel #38)
Issue(s): Silver Surfer: Judgment Day (Marvel Graphic Novel #38)
Both on the jacket sleeve blurb and in Stan Lee's introduction, this story is touted as a first:
There has never, to my knowledge, been a graphic novel in which all the illustrations are full-page in size, and further, in which each illo is treated just like a typical comic-book panel with its own proud plethora of dialogue balloons, captions and sound effects.
That's actually not the case unless you really want to split hairs about the term "graphic novel". At Marvel alone we've already had Marvel Fanfare #29 and Thor #380. But this issue certainly is all-splash, and at 60+ pages it might be the longest book to have done so.
Soaring through space, the Surfer comes across three naked women lounging near an enchanted portal.
They tell him to enter the portal and all he desires will be his. He recognizes this as a trap and declines, and the women turn into demons and attack him. We learn that the trap was set by Mephisto.
The Surfer defeats the demons and flies off, joining Nova. Nova is initially moody, but "as if to prove she is still a woman, her mood changes as suddenly as a galactic storm" and she challenges the Surfer to a race. The Surfer joins the race, but "A smile lights my face. I am aware that even here, in the vastness of space, I am acting like a male. I am willingly holding back, allowing her, whom I consider the weaker female, to exalt in her victory". Nova notices that and says, "Just like a man! You think you're letting me win! Well, let me tell you, Mr. High Flying Chauvinist, I can--".
Before that charming conversation goes any further, Nova discovers a a world suitable for feeding to Galactus. But it has life on it; what looks to be just basic vegetation, nothing intelligent.
And Nova says that she can't possibly bring that planet to Galactus because "There's life on it, and that's a no-no!".
That's the primary point of contention regarding the canonicity of this book. Especially at the time this book was written and released, Nova was defined by her amoral nature, making her unlike other former Heralds of Galactus, good and evil, and the fact that she led Galactus to populated planets was especially a point of debate between her and the Silver Surfer.
After Nova departs, she encounters the same portal that the Surfer passed earlier, except now it's guarded by men in loincloths instead of naked women. In Nova's defense, they've gotten slightly smarter, too, and instead of just trying to entice her into the portal, they tell her that Galactus left the portal there for her. So she enters the portal and is corrupted by Mephisto, by purloining her conscience. She also recognizes how deeply in love with Galactus she is, to the point where she'll do anything for him.
She's then allowed to return to Galactus...
...and since he's hungry, she leads him to the nearest available world, despite the intelligent life on it.
There is some resistance from the locals, but it's meaningless to Galactus, and he eats the planet.
Not to be nitpicky, but there are three panels in the above scan.
This continues, with Nova leading Galactus to planet after planet.
Eventually the Silver Surfer comes across some refugees from one of the planets, and learns what is happening. He locates Nova and challenges her, and they get to fighting above the next planet slated for consumption.
Nova "has not yet the skill to injure" the Silver Surfer, apparently, but Galactus does, and he knocks out his former Herald, and winds up zapping the current one too.
As punishment, Galactus traps both of them on the planet.
Eventually Mephisto shows up and offers the Surfer a trade. He'll restore the Surfer's power of flight so that he can go stop Galactus from eating more worlds, if only the Surfer will give him his soul. The Surfer initially refuses and fights Mephisto, but eventually gives in. And then of course it turns out that Mephisto was playing games with the truth; sure, he'll give the Surfer back his powers, but not right away. First he's going to take him to his Hell dimension and torture him for an eternity or so.
Watching all of this, Nova signals for Galactus to return. And so Galactus shows up in Hell.
And threatens to eat it!
With that, Mephisto relents and the Surfer is released. After the battle, the Silver Surfer tentatively calls Galactus a friend, but Galactus responds, "Enough! Friendship implies a caring, which signifies emotions! I could not do what I do, I could not be what I am, if, like hapless humans, I were subject to emotions unbridled. No! I am Galactus! I cannot be more! I dare not be less!". And so the Silver Surfer flies off alone.
Look, it's John Buscema drawing pin-ups of the Silver Surfer, Nova, Galactus, and Mephisto, and it's a story where Galactus threatens to eat Hell. That's delivering quite a lot, regardless of the various flaws of the story.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This was published in 1988 and there's even a vague footnote to it in Silver Surfer #16. However, based on Nova's characterization as someone who needed Mephisto's influence to feed life-bearing planets to Galactus, the MCP decided to push this further out, in the same gap during Silver Surfer #28 that Silver Surfer annual #2 occurs. I really resisted that idea; it's not my job to fix characterization. This story was written in 1988 and based on a footnote it was intended to occur at some point prior to Silver Surfer #16, so that's where i should have to put it. But it turns out there's a basic logistical problem to placing it prior to Silver Surfer #16 anyway. After the Silver Surfer is first paired up with Nova in Silver Surfer #8-10, they are pretty much together until the Surfer departs for Earth for Silver Surfer annual #1, which takes place directly between Silver Surfer #14-15 with no room for breaks. And Silver Surfer #15 runs directly into #16, which has the footnote. When the Surfer leaves Nova in Silver Surfer annual #1, she specifically says that she's returning to Galactus for the first time since he sent her away with the Surfer (to locate the Contemplator). So based on all that, i might as well go with the MCP's placement after all, putting this during Silver Surfer #28.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showGalactus, Mephisto, Nova (Frankie Raye), Silver Surfer
Galactus vs. Mephisto?? How did I never see such a matchup before? Talk about a cool fight!
Posted by: Bill | October 22, 2014 7:43 PM
Nova's growing reluctance to feed inhabited planets was a theme throughout the early years of Ron Marz's Silver Surfer run. In one of his first issues, we see a flashback that it started with an encounter with the Surfer, which maybe we can say took place shortly before this.
Posted by: Michael | October 22, 2014 8:35 PM
I haven't read much of Galactus past the 70s,yet, put god damn him threatening Mephisto to eat Hell sounds amazing.
Posted by: david banes | October 30, 2014 11:40 PM
This is a gorgeous book that recaptures the magic of the best Lee/Buscema work in the early issues of the first Surfer series. That the conception of Nova may differ from that in the contemporary Surfer series doesn't bother me much, as this book creates a convincing world of its own. That one tripartite panel is a time-lapse of a single scene. I love the image of Galactus (written properly for a change) staring out at the reader with his baby blues as he sinks into the lava.
Posted by: Instantiation | July 18, 2015 1:24 AM
I have a hard cover copy of this that I was told is the only copy saved from a destroyed print-run. Does anyone have any info about if and/or why a printing was destroyed?
Posted by: David | May 6, 2016 5:04 PM
David, my copy is hardcover that looks like this. I bought it used on Amazon fairly cheaply. There's also a softcover version with a different cover. I'm not aware of any other versions or anything about a destroyed print run.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 6, 2016 7:10 PM
Comments are now closed.
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