Open Mike Night - Silver Surfer (2014) #10 & Dazzler (vol. 1) #9-11

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Silver Surfer (2014) #10

Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Mike Allred
Colored by: Laura Allred
Lettered by: VC's Joe Sabino
Cover by: Mike Allred

Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Weaver: I don’t generally like space stories, I’m going to say that from the start…

Maillaro: I know that was how we started last week, but I suspected you were going to start this week the same way, so I figured I would save you the trouble...IN SPACE!!  We kind of stumbled right into two space stories this week.  So what did you think of them?

Weaver: The first thing I thought is...this is potentially the most Mike Allred comic this side of Madman.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.  It doesn’t seem like something long term Silver Surfer fans would be a big fan of, stylistically, but being late to the party, it worked out well for me.

So we join our story in progress, with the Surfer and Random Earth Girl Dawn Greenwood on a planet that has served as refuge for the last survivors of various and sundry planets Galactus has consumed.  I like this plot hook a lot.  It seems so obvious, yet I can’t recall it happening before.  

Maillaro: It was hinted at in earlier issues of this very series that people had been working on ways to either dodge Galactus or what to do after a Galactus attack.  I’ve been a fan of Silver Surfer pretty much as long as I’ve read comics, and I can’t remember too many stories that dealt with these kinds of themes.

You are dead on with this being a very Allred comic.  Same quirky sense of humor, same bright flashy artwork while still dealing with some serious and darker story ideas.  

I have heard a few people say that this is more of a Doctor Who story than a Silver Surfer story.  I see the argument, but I don’t really agree with it.

Weaver: Is there really a big gulf between Dr. Who and Silver Surfer?  I mean, so much so that a story couldn’t work equally well for both characters?  I don’t think so.  Sure, Dawn Greenwood feels like a companion, but Norrin also sometimes picks up people to cart around to help him feel more human.  Both of them have similar backstories, being largely unable to go back to their home planets (except when the plot dictates they can), adrift searching for purpose and hoping to help people to redeem some perceived long ago wrong.  Yeah, they have a different mixture of each of those elements, but they’re similar enough that you could tell the same basic story for either, in most situations.

Maillaro: Hmmm...it’s not all that unreasonable a comparison when you put it that way.  I honestly had never thought of it that way before.  

One thing that did bug me about this issue was the ending sort of felt like a copout.  I think if I had been writing this issue, I would have taken Surfer’s powers and given them to Dawn.  Swapped the dynamic up.  Instead, we tease the idea of Dawn getting cosmic powers...but then the entire planet rises up to drive Galactus off (which was cool), and Dawn ends up just being her normal self again.

 

Weaver: I wanted the same thing.  I mean, it reminded me a lot of Frankie Raye, and how she became Nova.  I thought that having that type of character tag along with Surfer would be an interesting dynamic.  I was expecting this all the way through the planet rising up, because I expected we’d get a “BUT IT WAS TOO LATE” moment. Unfortunately...Dawn is still just a basic Earth girl at the end.

I do like the reversal of Surfer deciding to use his Heralding Skills to help Galactus’ victims at the end.  It almost let me forgive them for not having Herald Dawn.

Maillaro: Yeah, I did think that was a fitting ending with Surfer promising to find them all a nice place to live now that Galactus ate their home...again.  

I just thought this was a really good, solid Silver Surfer, like this whole series has been.  By the way, did you catch that Dawn calls Surfer’s board Toomie.  That always makes me laugh.

Weaver: I just now understood that joke.  I feel dumb.

Maillaro: To be fair, until the specifically spelled it out in one issue, I couldn’t figure out why she kept saying it either.

Weaver: Yeah, it was good, it was solid, it was Silver Surfer, it was Mike Allred.  I think this did just about everything right, with the exception that we all wanted Cosmic Dawn. But that’s probably for the best.  If people are already complaining about it being Whovian, having Dawn parallel Donna would probably ratchet that complaint into overdrive.

I’m still not sure, though, if putting Allred on this comic was a good idea, even with the quality level being high.  He’s not an artist that everyone is in favor of, although we both love him, and Surfer is a guy that Marvel likes to have around but has always struggled to sell comics.  It feels like they tried to swing the installed Allred fanbase together with the Surfer fanbase, but I can’t imagine a lot of overlap there.  I think that it may have less readership than the sum of its parts.

But I’m going to do what I can, and give this a five on art.  I love Allred’s style, and his panel layouts and aliens and his...well, everything.  The story, I’m going to dock a point for no cosmic Dawn.  4.0 there.

Maillaro: Mike and Laura Allred will pretty much always get a 5 from me for their art and coloring.  They give everything such a unique look and feel.   

I like Slott’s writing a lot, and he is a real good fit for Silver Surfer.  I thought this was a real good issue of a series I really enjoy, so I will go a little higher with a 4.5.  But I do agree that Cosmic Dawn does hurt the issue somewhat.


Dazzler #9 - 11

Written by: Danny Fingeroth
Art by: Frank Springer and Vince Colleta
Colored by: C. Sheele
Lettered by: Joe Rosen

Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: 50 cents

 

 

Maillaro: I have owned issue 9 for as long as I can remember, but had never read the follow up issues where Dazzler ends up becoming THE HERALD OF GALACTUS.   I actually did enjoy these issues for the most part, but there was a major issue that jumped out at me...the creative team took this story way too seriously.  This seems like a story that should easily be fun and silly, but instead they were so sincere it actually became weird for me to read this story...like I was waiting for a punchline that was never coming.

If I had the opportunity to write “a Dazzler works for Galactus” story, I would go balls to the wall.  Have Galactus wearing roller skates.  “Disco” up his ship.  Stuff like that.  And this is probably why I should only be allowed to write ABOUT comics, not be allowed to write comics...

I will also point out that the story isn’t technically “Dazzler becomes the Herald of Galactus.”  It’s actually even less logical than that.  Terrax pisses off Galactus, and then goes to hide in a black hole.  Galactus can easily go get him...BUT….Galactus going into the black hole would destroy the black hole and Terrax.  Galactus isn’t quite ready for Terrax to die...so he scoured the universe to find the one person who could survive in a black hole long enough to pull Terrax out.  And apparently, that is Dazzler.

Again...this has potential to be entertaining just on its sheer audacity (like the Aunt May inherits a nuclear plant issue we reviewed a few weeks ago), but the creative team plays it straight, which just makes it really, really odd…

Weaver: The even odder parts of this story, to me, are the soap opera aspects that Dazzler’s comic incorporated.  Okay, I understand that’s the format they wanted for the series, but when Dazzler is off running into black holes, I really don’t need as much time devoted to the love triangle between her doctor boyfriend and his nurse (and Dazzler), and the doings of her band, and her manager who secretly fears that she’s been kidnapped by the Techmaster because she somehow rescued him from said Techmaster, and her estranged father, and probably other people I’m forgetting.  If you’re going to have a big epic space story, which it really feels like they wanted, make it a big epic space story.  Sure, have a panel or two of “meanwhile on Earth”, but large amounts of this were “meanwhile on Earth.”

Maillaro: Yeah, I thought that was strange too, but it also does fit the comics of the era.  Whenever we review “older” comics, you often see pages devoted to “what is every member of the supporting cast up to.”  I did think it was great that the story basically ended with all the members of the supporting cast rushing to her house...only to find her passed out there after her adventures in space...and everyone assuming “oh, she’s a rock star who partied too hard...no problem, let’s just leave her there.”  

Same thing happened to Elvis!  He got tapped to do some work for Eternity, and ended up dead on the crapper.  Poor bastard.  

Weaver: I especially loved that with her estranged father, who had spent significant time of these two issues coming to the conclusion that he should become concerned for her, and should figure out what was happening, and fulfilling promises to her dead mother and so on...then immediately goes, “Oh, she’s doped up.  Figures.  Goodbye for forever...again.”

What else was great is how every cosmic being has the hots for Ali Blaire.  I mean, Galactus’ drone I’m pretty sure is outfitting a stalker van even as we speak.  Terrax wants to just seize her for his bride, and even Galactus is moved to nearly emotional states by some things she says.

Maillaro: You know what occurred to me after reading both of these stories...Galactus is about as useless as Apocalypse.  Galactus talks a big game, but in the end, some blubbering humans are always able to make him change his mind.  Even Galactus’s plan in this one was so damn weak.   The only way he could figure out to get Terrax back was to send a disco singer after him?  Galactus...broski...you suck.

What’s even odder is that this story would have an ongoing impact on the Marvel universe, especially Secret Wars.  Klaw plays a major role in Secret Wars...because his energy was still bouncing around Galactus’s ship after Dazzler left him there.  And (this goes back to your cosmic jailbait theory) Beyonder had such a thing for Dazzler that once she dumped him in Secret Wars 2 he spends the rest of the series seriously contemplating either killing himself or killing the entire universe.   Magic vagina indeed…

Weaver: I feel obligated to trot out the Uncanny X-Men issue where Dazzler comes back from the Siege Perilous sometime in the near future.  People just can’t get over her. Ever.  Even galactic beings.  

Except readers.  Readers could totally get over her.  I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but Dazzler’s solo title has a really interesting history for why it existed.  She was created in order to sell records as a novelty act (which was something a lot of comic and cartoon characters did at the time).  Marvel had a contract with a record studio that required her to show up in X-Men and Fantastic Four and Spider-Man and to have a solo comic, but the record studio kept changing what exactly they wanted out of it, causing it to be back-burnered a lot.  By the time she finally showed up, she was a disco singer debuting exactly when disco had died.  The contract with the record studio was dead, but Marvel had invested so much into the project that they had to do something.  Therefore: this.

It was also an experiment in “direct to specialty shops” comics, which means that Dazzler exacted some revenge for disco dying, helping to kill the spinner racks of yore.  Not because it was a great comic, but because it proved this distribution method could work.

Alright, one final segue moment.  Note that near the end of this issue, Galactus says, essentially, “Time to go help ROM sell some issues.”  I cracked up at that.

Maillaro: Poor ROM!  I actually have only read an issue or two of ROM over the years, which is odd since I’m a huge Rick Jones fan.  But I digress.

Just one last comment on Dazzler’s overall oeuvre. We have a mutual friend named Tasha who helps me script an X-Men RPG Weaver and I have run for years.  Pretty much her only inflexible rule is “You can’t use Dazzler in any stories.”  She hates the character that much.  Even when I have tried to point her to some Dazzler stories I’ve liked or pitched some new ideas on how Dazzler would work in a modern world (the current incarnation of the RPG is sort of an Ultimate X-Men story), she automatically vetoes any possible use.  Dazzler truly does cause a harsh reaction from readers.

Scores for these issues… I actually really like issue 9.  I had that comic since I was a kid, and I think it’s a great setup with Dazzler being tested by Project Pegasus.  I also think Quasar is used really well in that issue.  But the Galactus story that comes after is definitely a step in a very strange direction.  I didn’t hate it, but I can’t help but wonder who lost a bet to make this story happen.   3 out of 5 for the story.  The art is solid...nothing all that memorable, but I was never offended by it.  A solid 3.5 for me.

Weaver: I think that some of people’s issues with Dazzler is a perception issue.  She’s the kind of character that you have to get over some major hurdles in order to allow yourself to give her a chance.  I’m going to go on record with a very controversial stance here: disco is not as bad as people make it out to be, and she gets a lot of hate for the disco tie-in, much of it unreasoning because most people that hate disco can’t name more than two or three disco songs, if any at all, and usually enjoy several disco-ish songs made by non-disco artists, like Miss You by the Rolling Stones or disco covers like Cake’s I Will Survive.  Disco gets a bad rap, and Ali gets that rap along with it.

My belief on how this story happened is that there was some leftover junk from the required Fantastic Four tie-in, and just like they decided that they had too much invested to not do the solo title...or X-Men tie-in...they had to pull that story in somewhere.  I’m also giving the story a 3, but I’m going down to 2.5 on the art.  Sometimes, the characters looked really blocky and had odd proportions, other times they were fine.  It threw me off at least three times during these issues.  While it was generally solid, it wasn’t consistent.


Maillaro: I was going to support your “disco isn’t all that bad” position, but I honestly realized I didn’t have all that strong an opinion on the issue, and we’re late enough on this one, so forget it.

Next week...I know we’ve done a lot of Spider-Man lately, but Gerry Conway is doing a sort of fill-in arc about gangsters called Amazing Spider-Man #16.1, so I thought that would be a cool way to tie up some of the things we’ve talked about in recent columns...

Weaver: I’m for it.  I don’t really want to go back to Spider-Man for the back issue bin...I feel it’s a little mined out for right now.  And I don’t want to go with Uncanny 300 yet either.  So...well, on the one hand, we can do another Dazz stalking issue with the aforementioned X-Men issue (I’m going to have to go to my longbox to get the exact number).  On the other hand, we can actually do a good and well-regarded comic, which we haven’t for a while.

Maillaro: I think I’ve said all I can about Dazzler for now, but I do want to revisit that down the road.  

Weaver: Fair enough.  Sitting next to the Walking Dead I trotted out a little bit ago, I have 100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call.  I enjoyed this a lot when I bought it, but I felt the series kind of outlived its premise and went on too long.  BUT.  That doesn’t magically make the first volume not good.

Maillaro: Works for me.  I own it, and I think I’ve read it, but only vaguely remember it.  Let’s do it!

After next week’s column, I will be off for a week.  Family Vacation!

Weaver: Yay family vacation!  I’m going to work on a fill-in column this week.  My older son just bought Batman and Robin volume 1 at Barnes and Noble, and every 30 minutes after buying it has told me that I should read it so I can review it.  The joke’s on him.  I’m going to make him review it too.

Maillaro: Is that the New 52 one?  I only recently got into Batman and Robin, and it ended up being a real good series.  HEY!  We need to do a review of Superrobin sometime soon!

Weaver: That’s the one.  I asked him about Robin because I’d heard the “Superrobin” complaint, and he confirmed that’s going on, but he still liked it.

Final Scores

 

Maillaro – Story

Weaver – Story

Maillaro – Art

Weaver – Art

Silver Surfer (2014) #10

4.5

4

5

5

Dazzler #9-11

3

3

3.5

2.5