In 1983 my Father took me to my first Comic Book Convention at a Red Lion Inn in Sacramento, California. It was in the Summer and I was 13. He didn’t tell me where we were going and the destination was incredible to my then budding collector senses. It was at this convention, among and acre of tables full of long boxes, where I found my Silver Surfer Vol. 2 No. 1.
Straight away I recognized John Byrne’s art on the cover. The cover and being the first issue, I didn’t know it was a one-off, I was sold. It was my first purchase that day, and one of three books that stand out in my memory. Having to be sequestered in a small area to beat the late afternoon/early evening heat, I get to read a lot more since our wi-fi isn’t the most reliable in that area. Last night I re-read this issue for the first time in decades.
The first thing that really stood out to me was the huge inconsistency of John’s art. After finishing the book I rechecked to see if he did layouts for other artist to finish… nope. By this point in his career John had already hit his stride, this was no early Byrne work. My only thought is that the inker / colorist, Tom Palmer, was responsible for the less than Byrne-tastic renderings. There were some panels that are perfect then there are others that feel like they are drawn by a different person completely.
The comics was Scripted by Stan Lee, and the story / art by John Byrne. The story is solid, but the dialog is a bit too wordy. Using three words where one could do. I dig the over all story that opens up with the Surfer trying to escape the barrier that Galactus constructed to keep his former herald Earthbound after the original events in the early issues of the Fantastic Four. Reed comes up with a plan to help him leave the planet but tells him he may never return, if he does he’ll never be able to leave again. He heads straight to Zenn-La and finds that Galactus has returned and fed. Somehow the planet is still there, and for some reason Galactus gave the population 24 hours to leave. Surfer returns and is beset upon by the people who returned to the now dead world.
The Surfer finds out that his mate, Shalla-Bal, was taken by Mephisto for reasons and returns to Earth to rescue her. He defeats Mephisto only to loose her again because Mephisto zaps her away… back to Zenn-La? Ok. Revenge? He somehow is able to give her some of his Power Cosmic and as a result everywhere she walks new plants grow in her wake. The Surfer now resolves himself to re-escaping his imprisonment on Earth. End.
Over all I give this one 3 out of 5 stars. Your mileage may vary.
The Fantastic Four build a device that allows the Silver Surfer to break free of Galactus’ barrier. The Surfer quickly returns to Zenn-La, but is horrified to find the planet destroyed and devoid of life. The remaining survivors blame the Surfer for this destruction, because it was Galactus that returned to consume Zenn-La after the Surfer had betrayed him. The Silver Surfer also discovers that Shalla Bal was captured by Mephisto and is still trapped on Earth. He quickly returns to Earth and finds Shalla Bal under the control of Mephisto. The Surfer battles Mephisto and is close to overpowering him, when Shalla Bal is suddenly sent back to Zenn-La. The Silver Surfer rushes to catch her, but realizes that Galactus’ barrier will stop him. Instead, he gives her some of his Power Cosmic so that she can bring life back to Zenn-La.
Tom Palmer can be a very heavy inker. I think the finished artwork looked pretty similar to this when Palmer inked John Byrne on X-Men: The Hidden Years a decade and a half later. I think they made an effective art team on both occasions.
This must have been a rushed job by John then.