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Silver Surfer: In Thy Name #4 (of 4)

Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2008
By: Paul Brian McCoy

Simon Spurrier
Tan Eng Huat, Jose Villarrubia (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Silver Surfer: In Thy Name #4 arrives in stores tomorrow, Wednesday, February 5.

Well, if you haven't been buying this already, you're probably not going to start now. However, since some of you cheap bastards might wait around and see if you can pick up the whole mini at once (preferably at a discount), here's a look at the final issue.

It ain't bad.

The final issue opens in a way that echoes the opening of the first issue, as the Surfer ponders life, violence, terror, and survival. These observations are reflections of his actions at the end of the previous issue, where he apparently summoned Galactus and declared that he would set the Devourer of Planets loose on whichever planet initiated hostilities against the other. And thus, peace is achieved. Or so the Surfer hopes.

One of the things that I like about this series is the combination of intellectual curiousity, spiritual simplicity, and childlike flashes of anger that Spurrier brings to the character of the Surfer, Norrin Radd. In fact, this story would probably be much more comfortable in a European Science Fiction collection like Metal Hurlant than under Marvel's banner. And while things never really got as psychadelic as promised in advanced interviews promoting the mini-series, there were a number of nice twists and turns along the way. There are also some fairly cliche and predictable moments as well, but nothing is so glaring as to seriously damage the telling of the story.

What seriously damaged the telling of the story was the art.

Tan Eng Huat is trying something experimental with the art on this series and while it's a noble effort, I have to say it didn't work. The ink washed pencils seem to have given way over the course of the series to partial inks, and while that helps solidify and define what's actually going on from panel to panel, the ink wash was never the real problem (as black and white promotional art demonstrated). It was the overlaying of Villarrubia's color washes to the ink washed pencils that muddied up things. For the first issue or two I had no idea what was going on and hurt my eyes straining to make out the details.

I can say that for the final issue, the art isn't as hard to decipher as it has been. Not entirely, anyway. There are still a few moments where I really don't know what's going on in particular panels, but they are few and far between this time out. Most of the book actually looks pretty good and the Surfer always looks interesting if nothing else. Radd's body language is a lot looser and more relaxed than how his usually portrayal, and I really like that. In fact, there's not much I didn't like about this series, if I could have just seen what was happening without damaging my eyes.

The only way I can see fixing it, is collecting it as an oversized hardback or trade, so the art is at least blown up some and the action is easier to follow (or even to distinguish). But I really don't see that happening. So while I really want to give it a higher score, the art problems really do make it a chore to read, so I'll settle for the average 3 bullet score. It's worth reading, especially if you enjoy comics anthologies like Metal Hurlant, 2000 AD, or even Heavy Metal... without the swearing, sex, and violence, that is.



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