29 issues, five collections, two volumes, one Secret War. This is the entirety of Michael Allred and Dan Slott's run with the Silver Surfer, which reached its final destination in the pages of Silver Surfer #14 this week. Even in a world filled with hyperbolic comics reviews, it is not an exaggeration to say that this series has been one of the best superhero stories of the past decades. Its style, creativity, and sincerity set it on the same plane as the likes of Astro City and Ms. Marvel. This issue provides a final statement that cements its legacy.
Anyone who has encountered Michael Allred's work on Silver Surfer or FF will know exactly what he brings to the stories of the Marvel universe. His bold style emphasizes the joy and experience of each individual panel. Characters pop, action lands, and there's never any repetition. It's not difficult to see why his approach to comics art has connected so well with the characters first imagined by Jack Kirby in both series. Yet emphasizing Allred's style fails to capture his powerful storytelling capabilities.
Even in Silver Surfer #14, which often functions like something of a greatest hits catalog, Allred provides cues that lure readers deeper into the story. The mystery of silhouettes create a subtle tension in an issue where every character's fate is already essentially resolved. A seemingly minor change in shapes and colors (aided by colorist Laura Allred) at the very start of the story comes back to become much more significant by the final page. Small moments like this provide the real genius of Allred as a draftsman, providing not only an alluring look, but one that resonates after completion and upon re-reading.
The concept of resonating is one that is key to Silver Surfer #14. After winning an Eisner Award and consistent acclaim, an epilogue issue like this could easily have functioned as a victory lap. Instead of simply retreading what made the series great, it strives for one last single issue celebration of the sentimental, cosmic, and moral. Dawn Greenwood has been the heart of the series since it premiered and the finale offers another way to celebrate the character's life, even after the endearing goodbye provided just one month prior.
Allred and Slott offer two big monuments to the notion of a specific life-changing love, the kind shared by Dawn and the Surfer. One of them fails to achieve the right balance and crosses into the land of the maudlin and hokey, and reminding readers of Slott's open Whovian influences. Yet the second and final moment sticks the landing. It ties into the roots of the Marvel universe and the comics' even more open admiration of Kirby. This is the decision that pulls everything together for an ending that feels right.
This one moment combined with the structure of Silver Surfer #14 also provides readers with a reminder that these stories, unlike our own, are not temporary. The beginning and end of the Marvel universe are accessible to any reader, and they can be tread and retread with new lessons to be learned and joys to be discovered. The Surfer briefly transcends his own existence in this issue to appreciate the perspective of those who have read these adventures for almost 4 years. That shared experience not only offers a satisfying conclusion, but a compelling reason to return to #1 and live each adventure once more.
Storytellers: Michael Allred and Dan Slott
Color Artist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Joe Sabino