Silver Surfer: Parable

By Stan Lee & Moebius; Keith Pollard, with Tom DeFalco & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0785162094 (HB) 978-0785106562 (TPB)

With a celebratory 30th Anniversary Edition due out in summer here’s a cheap look at an earlier edition, collecting a landmark reboot tale featuring the fabled Sentinel of the Spaceways (and also including one not so well known).

The most eclectic of comicbook cult figures, the Silver Surfer saga began with the deservedly lauded and legendary introductory story. Although pretty much a last-minute addition to Lee’s plot for Fantastic Four#48-50’s ‘Galactus Trilogy’, Jack Kirby’s gleaming creation became a watchword for depth and subtext in the Marvel Universe, and one Lee kept as his own personal toy for many years.

Sent to find planets for star god Galactus to consume, the Silver Surfer discovers Earth, where the latent nobility of humanity reawakens his own suppressed morality. He rebels against his master and helps the FF save the planet and in retaliation, Galactus imprisons the Surfer on Earth, the ultimate outsider on a planet remarkably ungrateful for his sacrifice.

The Galactus Saga was a creative highlight of a period where the Lee/Kirby partnership was utterly on fire: an adventure with all the power and grandeur of a true epic and one which has has never been surpassed for drama, thrills and sheer entertainment.

That’s not here but can be found in many other compilations. Sorry.

‘Parable’ was released as an Epic Comics micro-series in 1988-1989, featuring an all-new interpretation of Galactus’ initial assault on our backwards world, illustrated by legendary French artist Jean Giraud/Moebius. As with the 1978 Fireside Books/Simon & Schuster Silver Surfer book by Lee & Kirby, the story is removed from normal Marvel continuity, allowing the creators to focus on the unique philosophical nature of the Surfer and his ravenous master without the added distraction of hundreds of super-heroes.

It’s a beautiful piece of work you really should read.

Following is The Enslavers: a self-indulgent but oddly entertaining slice of intergalactic eye-candy featuring the legendary icon of the counter-culture generation. Once again it depicts the ex-herald of planet-devouring Galactus as a tragic saviour and Christ metaphor. Now however it’s not our troubled humanity but the overwhelming power of slavers from space that threatens humanity, and there’s a lot less breast-beating and soul-searching and far more cosmic action.

The story by Stan Lee (and Keith Pollard) has a rather odd genesis. Commissioned in the early 1980s by Jim Shooter, Lee’s original plot was apparently much transformed in the eight years it took to draw. By the time it was dialogued, it was a much different beast and Lee almost jokingly disowns it in his Afterword. Nevertheless, there’s lots to enjoy for the fan who doesn’t expect too much in this tale of love and death in the great beyond. It’s inked by Josef Rubinstein, José Marzan & Chris Ivy, coloured by Paul Mounts and lettered by Michael Heisler.

After a frantic rush through cosmic gulfs, Silver Surfer Norrin Radd crashes into the home of Reed and Sue Richards, just ahead of the colossal invasion craft of monstrous Mrrungo-Mu, who has been drawn to our world by the well-intentioned but naïve Nasa probe Voyager III.

The Surfer’s homeworld Zenn-La has already been depopulated by the awesome space slaver and Earth is next…

Moving swiftly, and exploiting the good intentions of an Earth scientist, the Enslavers incapacitate all our world’s superbeings and prepare to enjoy their latest conquest, but they have not accounted for the vengeful resistance of the Surfer or the debilitating power of the love Mrrungo-Mu is himself slave to: for the unbeatable alien warlord is weak and helpless before the haughty aloofness and emotional distance of his supposed chattel Tnneya

Despite being dafter than a bag of space-weasels in far too many places, there is still an obvious love of the old, classic Marvel tales delivered at an enthusiastic pace informing these beautifully drawn pages and the action sequences are a joy to behold. If you love cosmic adventure and can swallow a lot of silliness, this might just be worth a little of your time and money.

Altogether a very strange marriage, this is a compelling tome spanning the vast divide of comics from the ethereal and worthy to the exuberant and fun: a proper twofer you can get your teeth into…
© 1988, 1989, 1990, 2012 Marvel Entertainment Group/Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.