Since the launch of Dan Slott and the Allreds’ “Silver Surfer” series, the creative team has used their considerable talents to push the visual and storytelling boundaries of Norrin Radd’s adventures. With “Silver Surfer” #11, the team stretches their work into a mind-bending trip through time and space that shifts the very book itself into a temporal loop, breakable only by the power of the Surfer’s connection to the reader themselves.
On picking up the book, readers will immediately notice the odd Moebius strip layout of the third page, introducing the paradox of the issue: in order to save the inhabitants of the former Newhaven, Surfer must herald them through the Giraud sector, a pocket of space inhabited by proud French aliens who view the passing fleet as a threat to their livelihoods. When Surfer is hit by their time cannon, the issue is thrown into a repeating loop, running along the tops and bottoms of each page as a horizontal strip. The story is repetitive but not boring, each iteration offering the proceedings from a new narrative perspective, slowly unfolding all the circumstances of the event.
Slott’s “Doctor Who” riff becomes a “Battlestar Galactica” fight for survival and, at these low points, each character is forced to face who they are and who they want to be. It’s compelling and each trip through the action reveals a new facet of heroism or betrayal as Norrin Radd must break the chain of events and fulfill his promise to the people he’s sworn to protect. The storytelling idea is fun, a Grant Morrison concept presented in a more accessible, clear manner.
It also helps to have the Allreds delivering their gorgeous pop dynamicism to the pages. The battles, even in their lowest points, are like birthday presents for the eyes, a reward for having sight. Mike and Laura have put in some of the greatest work of their career in this series and even the small details, like the arch of an eyebrow, are considered and never out of place. Their design for the Never Queen is a second page stunner and isn’t even the biggest showstopper in the issue. The double page spread of Norrin’s victory is the best Silver Surfer since Ron Lim’s shiny bodybuilder design in the late 80s, conveying sheer elation at accomplishing one’s own goals.
As the Marvel Universe lurches into “Secret Wars,” this title will thankfully continue through the summer, offering more offbeat goodness during high tide. This title is its own cosmic sandbox, telling standalone stories that haven’t really tied into the greater storytelling fabric of the Marvel canon, which may mean readers have missed out on this trippy comic so far. Given the spotlight coming down on the entire line, it’s a great moment to really go big with a weird idea. More so than any other issue, “Silver Surfer” #11 is an exciting experiment from a creative team that pushes each other to do weirder and more fun things.