STEAL IT: Silver Surfer: Judgment Day
Stan Lee? John Buscema? Every page is a splash page? *proceeds to fill pants with sticky stuff*
Little while back, I had to visit some town someplace to do something.
I had a chance to kill some time and spotted a little used comic book store in a strip mall sandwiched between a Little Caesar’s and a Dollar General.
Inside, I perused a humble offering of used books with the little green stickers on the sleeves. $2.00, $7.00, $12.00, etc.
Then amongst those old books, I found something new. For me, anyway.
That book was Silver Surfer: Judgment Day.
Silver Surfer: Judgment Day is one of those big, beautiful album-style one-shot graphic novels Marvel made in the 80s. I cherish the few I have — Daredevil: Love and War, The Death of Captain Marvel, and Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure.
If you’re unfamiliar with this line, think of the books as presenting grittier, more mature fare than the monthlies. Not quite as heavy as the later MAX line, but definitely more grim and, for the artists, a chance to be more experimental.
Finding one of these in the wild is a real treat, in other words. Each gives you that luxury of an opportunity to roll the dice on something that stands a good chance to genuinely surprise you.
And this book sizes up.
It’s written by Stan Lee and illustrated by John Buscema. Note, this is the “taking his time” Buscema, not the 50-books-a-month Buscema (who’s still a damn sight better than almost anybody).
Artistically, the book is unique because it’s one of those rare examples of an all-splash-page book. Every leaf in this slim, 60-some-page masterpiece could be pulled out and framed.
The story? Fucking amazing, in the way only Stan can.
It starts off with Silver Surfer and Nova meeting up and trade poignant regrets in a sort of cosmic “smoke break”; they’re two kindred spirits grousing about Galactus, and not being free. Things only they understand.
For anyone who doesn’t know the pair, their relationship is perfectly established as deep and meaningful in just a few pages. And it has to be, or what happens next don’t tug the strings.
Mephisto is the villain of the piece, scheming about Silver Surfer and his shiny soul and how to get it from him.
First, he tries the thing that should work: babes.
Good ‘ol Norrin doesn’t fall for it (they’re demons, anyway), so Mephisto manipulates someone the surfer actually cares about in his scheme. You guessed it: Nova.
Now that sets up what probably would have been a dramatic enough story, but we’re not done putting batteries in the fire.
See, Silver Surfer isn't the only person who wants to see Nova returned safe. In his scheming, Mephisto also attracts the attention of Nova’s current employer. None other than GALACTUS.
So yeah, it’s Mephisto vs. Galactus.
Did I mention these are all full splash pages?
And that Galactus fights Mephisto in HELL?
If a splash page of Galactus burning in a Biblical lake of fire doesn't do it for you, I just don’t believe you’re alive, son.
Silver Surfer: Judgment Day can be a bit tough to get your hands on. I see a few on Amazon in various formats and conditions ranging between $25 and $600. I managed to get a broken-in original hardcover copy for about $15.
Try some used bookstores and comic stores to see if you can get lucky. Otherwise, even a dog-earred paperback of this is worth the pickup.
Take care, now.
*Remember now folks, all genders are fellas here