Silver Surfer #4

In "Silver Surfer" #4, Dan Slott, Michael Allred and Laura Allred begin a new arc after the Silver Surfer's Impericon adventure. Slott turns the action from outer space adventures to horror and mythological monsters in a small town. It sounds like the foundation of a Steven King novel, but it's very light and comic rather than dark in tone. Slott and Allred are having fun with these classic horror staples -- the panel with Hulk's tussle with Frankenstein has a particularly funny joke.

Slott's sense of humor sets a lot of the tone for "Silver Surfer." It's quirky and ironic, resulting in a self-consciously old-fashioned story -- a sensibility that pairs very well with Allred's retro aesthetic. It also allows for a news announcer-style exposition, cluing readers that this is about "that time Doctor Strange and Hulk fought old-timey monsters."

The cover is misleading since the issue is really about Dawn's homecoming and Surfer's letting down his guard to experience Earth. The conflict with the Guardians is funny but could easily have been cut out and feels gratuitous, especially if they play no part in the future issues for this arc. On the other hand, it's amusing to see the Guardians act like cops and customs officials, especially with Rocket Raccoon hamming it up with the "flora and fauna" line.

The rest of the story takes place in Anchor Bay. Surfer himself is the straight man of his own comic, and Slott gets in some goofy jokes about "The Wizard of Oz" and the fame of superheroes. It's a reversal of the first story in that Dawn is on her home ground, and this change of setting expands on the characters of both Dawn and Silver Surfer. Surfer is more approachable as he tries to adjust to socializing with Dawn's family, while Dawn is ecstatic to be home. A quick drop-off becomes a courteous invitation to stay for dinner. The issue has a "second or third date, meet the parents" feel to it, even though the romantic tension between Dawn and Silver Surfer hasn't led to anything concrete yet.

The ending is deliberately melodramatic, and Slott heavily foreshadowed what would happen earlier in the comic. Silver Surfer's feelings about being locked up on Earth by Galactus were apparently akin to those of a small-town kid aching with boredom to get out. It seems predicable that Dawn, the homebody, may be able to get Silver Surfer to see his doubtless-temporary predicament in a new light.

Slott is trying to unbend the unapproachable and powerful Silver Surfer by pairing him with Dawn and capturing his outsider reactions to phenomena as simple as a well-made soup. Like many a romantic interest, Dawn seems to have the role of being a catalyst for the hero's growth. Dawn's family is a little too Norman Rockwell-like to be believable, but they do make for a stark contrast with creepy supernatural activity. Allred's couch with teeth is especially well-rendered.

Michael Allred's art is always a pleasure to look at. He's a great match for the material, but his poster-like art is so highly stylized. Laura Allred's colors are stunning as usual. Her vivid colors really make Allred's linework pop. At times, though, it feels like he's repeating himself. A tilted panel of Silver Surfer and Dawn standing close together has a pose that looks like Frank Einstein and Joe together from his earlier work in "Madman." Even the underlying dynamic of the regular human woman and the superpowered guy is the same.

The reader's mileage will vary depending on how much he or she enjoyed the retro vibe of both the script and the visuals. The gradual introduction of occult forces into Anchor Bay in "Silver Surfer" #4 is the highlight of its efficient exposition for the beginning of another adventure.

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