Dan Slott and Michael and Laura Allred break out serious storytelling skills with "Silver Surfer" #9, a comic book filled with high action, big decisions, character development and a serious cliffhanger the likes of which this newer series has not yet experienced.
With a light Whovian nature, this book has exhibited its share of danger but has often moved closer to the airy pop sensibilities that the Allreds typically bring to a project. With this issue, Surfer must deal with Dawn's reaction to discovering his former role for the devourer of worlds. Slott's work with Norrin Radd has been pushing him to grow as a character, beyond his mistakes and into new discoveries by using Dawn as a fresh pair of eyes through which to view the galaxy. Using that perspective to call this past in to question forces Norrin back to a stoic, lonely presence as he gives into the worst parts of his personality. Radd has always been a bit of a mope and Slott understands this character almost as well as he understands Peter Parker, showing us that he would fall back on old habits once his past comes to haunt his present. Though Dawn's decisions here are disappointing for a reader who knows that Radd has more than atoned for his sins, it's also an understandable point of view, considering how it must feel to learn that her new best friend has a past that he kept from her while she's stranded light years from home.
In the backdrop of this turning point in their relationship, the arrival of Galactus looms over a world full of castaways from planets he once destroyed. He is the lightning rod around which all the decisions in this issue take place. Norrin views him as a chance at redemption in the eyes of his new friend, assaulting the eternal threat in a creative way that hasn't been seen before. Dawn views him as a revelation of a past that she knew nothing about, thinking that this is representative of who the Surfer is. The residents of Newhaven see him as the end of everything because, well, that's what he does. It's a lot to handle in 20 pages and the team balances all of this well.
Slott gives Michael Allred some gorgeous double page spreads to cut loose, including a great capsule of Surfer's origin. His storytelling is always unique and breathtaking. The art veteran, along with Laura Allred's beautiful colors, has made this sci fi book look and feel like nothing else Marvel publishes right now. What's amazing is how minimal their art is while still packing in so much information. They are the realization of the pop art legacy created by Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby so many decades ago. Joy radiates off each page and it's clear they have a deep love for the characters and work here. The designs of Newhaven's inhabitants are all unique, a continuing trademark for this entire run.
The issue ends with everyone in a very dark place and, with one more issue to go in this arc, it's the worst that things have looked for anyone in this run. Norrin has been stripped of his powers, Galactus is possibly coming to destroy Newhaven and Dawn's previous fear about leaving her hometown may prove to be correct. This group is firing on all cylinders right now. If nothing else, this run on "Silver Surfer" should go down as a true cult classic and this issue is a great single issue example of what this crew can create.