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The ’90s Revisited: Silver Surfer #45

90srevisited

silversurfer045Thanos vs. Mephisto

Writer: Jim Starlin
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Tom Christopher
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Cover: Ron Lim, Tom Christopher
Editor: Craig Anderson
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: January 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

This is an issue of Silver Surfer. That’s the series, the title, that’s the logo on the cover. But…the cover belongs to Thanos and Mephisto…there’s no attempt whatsoever to have the title character–the Surfer himself–worked into the cover image. There’s a square box that has no pretension of some callout or "burst" hyping something: it states simply The Boys are Back! and we see a stoic, confident Thanos "posed" for the image with a sorta creepy, up-to-no-good Mephisto putting an arm around him. This image alone evokes plenty of thoughts and depth…surface stuff and far deeper, should one wish to hyperanalyze.

The cover belongs to these two…as does the interior. The Surfer has fallen (in the previous issue, I’d assume…it’s been well over a decade since I last would have read this run) and he and the Destroyer (Drax) lay lifeless at Thanos’ feet–their souls having been sucked into the Soul Gem. Other than the opening full-page shot and barely a reference in a subsequent panel and then a small panel at the very end of the issue reminding us of their existence–we don’t see Surfer or the Destroyer in the rest of the issue. And while this is a Silver Surfer issue…that does not bother me in the slightest, particularly having bought this for a quarter, because of the cover…and TRULY getting exactly what I wanted, what I expected out of the issue: Thanos and Mephisto. That’s what the cover promised, and that’s what was delivered.

Thanos has assembled his Infinity Gauntlet, having completed his quest to gather the Infinity Stones. The two beings who sought to stop him–the Silver Surfer and Drax, the Destroyer–have been defeated. Mephisto takes this opportunity to step him, pledging himself to Thanos, master of all. Along with doing so, he goads Thanos on, suggesting the greatness he can yet attain, if he reaches out with his infinite power to touch every living/sentient mind in the Universe. Thanos does so, and Mephisto’s ulterior motive is revealed: to steal the Gauntlet for himself. Of course, it turns out that Thanos was prepared for this, and puts Mephisto in his place, wherein the two come to an agreement about How Things Will Be…and we again see the lifeless forms of Surfer and Drax as Thanos considers the notion of there remaining any who could possibly be a threat to his plans.

This issue falls right in the midst of all the lead-up to The Infinity Gauntlet (1991), though unfortunately it does not seem to be part of the Silver Surfer: The Rebirth of Thanos collected volume. (I’m actually not sure if this has been collected anywhere at the moment?) And the cover–basic though it is (a simple greenish turquoise background with the two characters and then the usual cover dress)–just hit the right nostalgia button for me.

Starlin‘s writing here is spot-on for me; I so associate him with this material–this run on Silver Surfer, all his stuff on Thanos heading into and then during the core Infinity Gauntlet and so on–that this is essentially a "perfect" comic. This is Thanos as I appreciate the character, like the character, and simply reading this issue leaves me anxious to re-read this whole run of the title. As Thanos’ creator, Starlin gets a "pass" from me: what he says goes, and if he’s writing Thanos, then to me…that IS Thanos.

Lim‘s art is absolutely fantastic and iconic in itself to me…as depicted in this issue, this simply IS Thanos. The costume, the shadowed eyes, the star-flare in the eyes, whatever details I notice just works for me and seems perfect.

I already "know" this period of the comics; I know stuff before, after, and am certain I’ve read this before, so reading this is a true revisiting for me; like taking a cherished, favorite book and spending a few minutes re-reading a short selection. That’s probably why despite this chunk of story being right in the middle of the lead-up to Infinity Gauntlet, I so thoroughly enjoyed it as a single issue.

This issue is well worth grabbing, particularly as a bargain-bin issue…and especially if it’s truly not reprinted anywhere as yet. It’s a great middle piece between what you’ll find in Silver Surfer: The Rebirth of Thanos tpb and the Infinity Gauntlet.

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The ’90s Revisited: Warlock and the Infinity Watch #25

Blood and Thunder part 12: Raid on Asgard

Creator/Writer: Jim Starlin
Pencils: Angel Medina
Inker: Bob Almond
Letters: Jack Morelli
Colors: Ian Laughlin
Editor: Craig Anderson
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.95
Cover Date: February, 1994

It’s been years since I’ve read anything from this title; but when I originally read through what I had of the title–probably back in 2000 or so–this issue was not one of them. And, I haven’t read this Blood and Thunder story, either (other than having maybe read one or two other random chapters, but never have read it as a singular story or all the parts in order). Yet, I’ve had a vague concept of what the story was–Thor goes crazy and some of the cosmic characters had to team up to take him down.

That this had such a cool cover of Thanos, Warlock and a chained-up Thor piqued my interest such that I found myself reading the issue in its entirety despite lacking context of any recently-read earlier chapters of the crossover or any recent reading of any Infinity Watch issues for continuity reminders.

Basically, Warlock, the Infinity Watch, Dr. Strange, and the Silver Surfer show up on the Rainbow Bridge with Thor imprisoned in a stasis field of some sort. Odin sees this and assumes with Thanos in their midst that they’ve–despite proving their Character in the past–shown up with Thor as a hostage, and he sends the forces of Asgard against the group. After a lengthy battle, Odin wades into the fray himself before Sif and Beta Ray Bill intervene, finally putting everyone on the same page. Odin attempts to simply fix things, but it doesn’t work, and so he declares that Thor must die.

The story itself is pretty good–sufficiently “cosmic” for me, which makes sense given the characters involved. And this IS classic Starlin…and given his hand in Warlock and Thanos stuff through the years–particularly back in the early/mid-1990s when this issue came out–can’t ask for much better. I really like the way this plays firmly within what I recall of the ’90s Cosmic stuff–Warlock and his group, Thanos, Thor/Odin/Asgard, even the Silver Surfer is found here. Starlin‘s got a great grasp on his “usual” characters, and seems to do the same with the Thor characters–at least, they all seem within the characterization I’m aware of for them.

My main disappointment in the issue is with the art–for me, as a casual reader, it seems incredibly uneven. I really like the cover–it’s got plenty of detail, and the characters all look quite good–recognizable, detailed, etc.–and that goes for the outer as well as inner cover images. The art for the issue itself seems truly simplistic by comparison, though, with many panels having extremely minimalistic background if anything but solid color–and many of the characters (while they remain recognizable as individuals) are distractingly simplified such that they look ugly, rough, and unfinished or rushed–especially compared to the cover. This may be a stylistic thing–and doesn’t fail to get the story across–but it’s not exactly to my liking at present.

All told, though…this was a very welcome read as something I pulled from a bargain bin sometime in the last few years–I found it a few weeks ago while searching out other comics in my unorganized collection, and set it aside TO read. I’m not certain, but I think this issue and the Thanos/Odin battle may even have been referenced in the Dan Jurgens run of Thor, post-Heroes Return, which makes it that much more satisfying to (even a decade later) have finally read for myself.

Even with the cardstock, die-cut dual cover (you open the main cover to the same image of Thor, but surrounded by all the other primary characters involved in this story) and extra story pages, this issue was only $2.95 cover price–over $1 cheaper than a standard Marvel comic today. And with bargain-bin pricing–presumably 25-50 cents–if you’ve any interest in Thanos in particular–this is well worth the price of admission.

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