Review: Silver Surfer Black Treasury Edition
I read the first three issues of this series as they initially came out and then, as per usual for my habits as a store manager who ordered most of the books, I decided I was falling behind in trying out other stuff and I knew this was good enough to buy as a collection when it was finished. Thankfully Marvel decided to print this in their oversized treasury format as well so that Tradd Moore's beautiful art could shine.
The quick summary is that the Silver Surfer fell into a black hole with a bunch of cosmic heroes at the start of a different comic and this series encapsulates his experiences during that time. He gets infected with a sort of cancerous darkness, falls back in time by a few billion years, fights off a new (old?) cosmic villain, and deals with the usual existential guilt and pain as is required by most Silver Surfer stories.
I think it's an editorial edict that Surfer absolutely has to cry and moan about his past or else it's not considered cannon.
One of the core elements of this series was to pump up Donny Cates' new cosmic villain Knull, prominently featured in Cates' Venom run. Cates' has a lot of interesting longterm plans throughout his Marvel works, most leaning towards the cosmic scale and expanding upon mythology of characters like Venom. I can appreciate a lot of the work, but I'm also burnt out enough on big superhero event stuff that it can be a bit tedious for me as well.
Moore illustrates Knull interestingly enough in his demented Yellow Submarine experimental style, but overall the villain doesn't do much for me. He acts as a decent enough antagonist motivator for the larger spiritual/existential quest of Surfer throughout this series, and that's really all he needs to do. Moore does give a lot of artistic flair to Knull's powers and control of his surroundings, giving us some great cosmic horror pieces such as this:
And in Knulls' symbiotic possessions:
So everything around Knull I actually like quite a bit, but space Gene Simmons himself lands a bit weakly.
On the flip side, we get some nice appearances and design work on characters such as Ego and, of course, Galactus.
Moore has so much fun with all the Galactus bits throughout the story, and it's very refreshing to see such a kinetic and stylish take on the character.
As unremarkable as I find Knull to be, Cates' scripting and pacing are all solid and he pulls together a nice and fairly self-contained cosmic odyssey. It can be difficult to find an emotional balance with a character like the Surfer whose noble alien-ness is usually a baseline detachment from humanity (and humor), so you can't break the impending cosmic doom tone as often as you would like. Cates does sneak in some nice bits here and there though, my favorite being the continual inconsequential but heartwarming references to the planet Elynore-143 and its population of adorable pups.
The main pay off for me is of course the artwork, which is why I'll say that this package is worth your $30 even though it is a fairly quick five issue read. You're basically buying an art book with an enjoyable piece of superhero sci-fi story as an accompaniment, and the oversized format does wonders for the entire package. Yes, it's a pain in the ass to fit into your bookshelf and yes, their choice of the black matte finish cover does absorb and highlight every fingerprint smudge in the universe.
Still totally worth it though.