Silver Surfer #11: Never After
Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Michael Allred
Colors by Laura Allred
Letters by VC’s Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel
File under: Superhero
When The Silver Surfer was re-released in 2014, I was very excited to surf the cosmic rays with Norrin Radd, of the planet Zenn-La, who took it upon himself to become the herald of Galactus to prevent his home world from being consumed. A character I know hardly anything about was about to go on his next great adventure with a human in tow, and little did I know that by June 2014, issue #11, I’d have the most engaging reading experiences of my life. Join me on the beach, catching some surf with Dan Slott and Michael and Laura Allred as I explore the amazing beach read that is “The Silver Surfer #11: Never After”.
A disclaimer: reviewing this single issue comic without spoilers was extremely difficult! However, I chose to include this as a Beach Read because it fundamentally changed the way I look at innovative storytelling and utilizing the sequential art form for experimentation.
The Never Queen is a familiar character to readers of the re-launched Silver Surfer. Her haunting beauty and powers to embody every possibility imaginable make her a formidable force in any character’s life. After discovering the planet of New Haven, a refugee planet for the sole remaining survivors of Galactus’ eternal hunger, Dawn, the Silver Surfer’s human companion, and the Surfer failed to realize they had inadvertently called Galactus to New Haven. Having evacuated the planet, the citizens of New Haven are adrift in the cosmos, unwilling to leave a single member of their unique crew behind. The Surfer searches tirelessly to find a planet suitable for all the individual species of New Haven; however, with every new planet he finds, one, if not many, find the planet inhospitable. As the group of 6 billion refugees traverse the universe, they run into hostiles who wish to shoot them down, causing Silver Surfer to take drastic measures, he folds the fabric of time and space to aid in their escape. When space is folded, the reader literally turns the book to read a new row, and experiences the need for a new planet all over again.
Dan Slott, known for his work on Spider-Man and Great Lakes Avengers, is an amazing humor writer. While the fate of 6 billion, unique, irreplaceable souls are at stake, he still finds the time for levity, which is helpful for readers to have sympathy for characters. Drawing from many science fiction inspirations, readers can see elements from Battle Star Galactica, Doctor Who, and Star Trek in the characters and plot devices. Not only is the dialog sharp with Slott’s work, but he is not afraid to take risks which could alienate readers, deviating from the comic book norm. With art from the Allred’s, the decision to make the reader physically engage with the comic book by following certain panels, flipping the book upside down, skipping sections only to return to them, if you choose, was one of the most engaging reading experiences I’ve had as a fan (though, I don’t know how the book will take to being bound or tattle tape!). Other books have attempted the same innovations, but I think what makes this stand out is the integral nature of the form changes to the story. If you are folding time and space, it make sense to flip the universe upside down.
Artist Michael Allred and colorist Laura Allred are a powerhouse comic art team. Their matte, psychedelic, retro art is very engaging, light hearted and unlike anything else in comics today. The use of texture in backgrounds and the Never Queen herself, is innovative and refreshing. She is outlined in a bold line, but inside she is everything, her coat and robe extending beyond her never body. And her beauty gives her sympathy; is she a villain, or is the torment she is making the members of New Haven experience just her nature? It is extremely difficult to create hundreds of unique, individual characters from individual planets, with different background, physiology, etc., but the simple designs and subtle changes make it look easy.
What makes issue 11 so unique is the ability to act as a stand-alone issue and an end to a very complex story. The story of the citizens of New Haven deals with many societal concerns; immigration, refugee status, trust, and survival. Essentially, this is a survival story, and it is very telling that Slott and the Allreds chose to flip-flop the story around to show dissenting views about what survival means to each of the characters. The Silver Surfer in particular has to find some way to redeem himself in the eyes of the survivors, Dawn, and himself. For the survivors, the Silver Surfer promises to find a new home where all can live peacefully; for Dawn, he hopes to be able to re-win her trust after failing to disclose his former duty; and for himself, the Silver Surfer learns that he must sacrifice all of himself for others.
If you haven’t checked out the first two trades of the Silver Surfer, you are missing out on an opportunity to get to know a nearly 50 year old character in a fun, new story. Slott and the Allreds make the Surfer accessible while hold true to his cosmic nature and the addition of hotel owner Dawn Greenwood creates a new level of excitement. The bright colors and innovative character designs will make you want to hop on the surf board and ride the cosmic rays, seeking out new creatures while discovering a little something about yourself along the way.