Overview

Silver Surfer: Requiem #1

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Silver Surfer: Requiem #1

Credits

  • Words: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Art: Esad Ribic
  • Inks: Esad Ribic
  • Colors: Esad Ribic
  • Story Title: Kyrie
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: May 31, 2007

Perhaps the sappiest, silliest Surfer story ever told, Straczynski’s out-of-continuity MK tale is second only to his Spider-Ham one-shot in pure storytelling misfire.

While the Surfer inside main Marvel Universe continuity is caught up in dealing with the Annihilation wave aftermath, for some odd reason (oh, wait, right, the movie, never mind) some editorial Einstein decided that there needed to be an additional, supposedly character-involved mini to further showcase the sky-rider of the spaceways (read: make more money while the making’s good). Sadly, there’s little point for this series’ existence beyond its obvious movie impetus. Straczynski’s plot is stencil-thin and boils down to this: Norrin Radd is dying, his Galactus-granted silver shell that for years has protected him from every cosmic radiation and other celestial force is breaking down, and as it’s connected directly with his nervous system (it is?) it will soon take its wearer with it. The entire first issue is little more than an unnecessarily drawn-out recap of Norrin/the Surfer’s origin followed by a whole lot of overly-wrought, melodramatic posturing on how horrible his fate and how noble the character for facing it with a freaky-deaky born-again Christian smile and the naïveté of a ten-year-old.

To be as ridiculously blunt as I can: while you’d never know it by reading this issue, the Surfer is in fact an inordinately complex individual, both in concept and design and especially in character. He’s slaughtered billions for the sake of saving the millions he wished saved; he may not have been in his right mind when he did this, but he still has to live with the memory of these actions, and while he’s sworn to continually do good to atone for his past, he’s also a free-spirit in the most frustrating sense of the term, refusing to lay down roots or allow any particular set of beings to be his sole or even primary care. He’s a self-sufficient, self-centered, irresponsible, self-made pariah with no emotional center and yet a desire to be a very willing Christ-figure to pretty much anyone in the universe in hopes of absolving himself of his apparently never-ending guilt. He’s a rebel in search of a cause, though none will ever do for him what only he alone can do for himself.

Unfortunately, the Surfer in Requiem is like reading about the adventures of the actual Jesus via a Sunday School-sponsored cartoon: he’s a quiet, peaceful, understanding, flawless being that compares his approaching death to butterflies and smiles to the heavens when he speaks of this upcoming demise. His friends (the Fantastic Four, whom he’s fought beside maybe a dozen times sporadically) are shattered to the point of inconsonance when they hear that he might soon pass on, Sue even going so far as to "Cry in that way where it just falls like water, like she’d been crying all day, like she might never, ever stop crying again." I don’t think she cried that much when she thought her own husband had died, but I guess the Surfer just has that effect on people. It looks to be that the entire Requiem series will be more of this same, with issue #2 spotlighting Spider-Man, who I suppose will wax poetic on the people he’s lost and the guilt/regrets of his own, likely drawing on the many Spider-plots Straczynski himself has penned over the past few years.

For those hard-core Surfer fans that wouldn’t dream of missing a single issue of anything Silver Surfer no matter what the quality, the good news is that the jaw-dropping art by Esad Ribic is nearly enough to buy the issue for despite the story. His fully painted pages are magisterial to the extreme, presenting the title character with all the glory and grandeur that such a figure so richly deserves. There’s an unflinching and undeniable sense of god-like pathos within a solid, real and recognizable world. It’s an ingenious, skillful blend of the mundane and the majestic and it just plain works wonders for the Surfer, both for the character and the unique world of big-and-small he inhabits.

I’d buy a poster based on nearly any one of Requiem’s panels, but I don’t think I’d read the second issue if Marvel paid me $3.99. Not only is the very concept hard to swallow – what with the renewal of power the Surfer seems to undergo at Galactus’ hands every few years or so – but the treatment of it is insultingly cursory, consisting of Reed Richards himself passingly spouting how "advanced" the Surfer’s shell is and how there’s nothing he can do and then it’s all just accepted after that. No reason, no rhyme, just whatever it takes to get to the point, which is disappointingly nothing more than the Surfer tearfully journeying to make peace with many major Marvel super-heroes before he "dies" (which, let’s face it, he won’t, or else maybe this story simply won’t ever be an official part of any continuity that matters). It’s the worst Surfer story I’ve ever read, though admittedly the prettiest.

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