Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Art by: Esad Ribic
Published by: Marvel Comics

“Silver Savior”

The only cool thing about the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was the appearance of the Silver Surfer. Indeed, the Silver Surfer has enjoyed decades of popularity, including long solo comic runs, which somehow has never translated into a larger scale production (there was much talk of a Silver Surfer movie during the 80s and 90s that never saw fruition).

Silver Surfer: Requiem strikes as an odd way to capitalize on the rising tide of his popularity. Not to mention that it is difficult to write poignant, meaningful stories with near-omnipotent characters in a medium where death means little to nothing. Yet, we’re made to get emotionally involved with the life and death of Norrin Radd, the man within the Silver Surfer. Once again, J. Michael Straczynki’s (Book of Lost Souls, Strange) brand of self-important dialogue again matches nicely with his choice of subject.

Reminiscent of the Jim Starlin classic, The Death of Captain Marvel (now rendered moot with his recent return), the Silver Surfer is dying. The silver coating is breaking down, with the symptomatic effects of a fast progressing nerve degeneration disease. What we are left with is a series of good-byes as the measure of a life is reflected upon.

The Silver Surfer first experienced a born again moment with the Fantastic Four. Until then, he was a man who sacrificed his life for those of his people, opting to become the herald of the planet devourer, Galactus, so that sentient lives could be spared. However, he strayed from that mission, but got back in touch with the man he was supposed to be and the life he was supposed to lead after contact with the Fantastic Four.

We don’t dwell on death too much. It’s probably a a survival mechanism since if we focused too much on it, we might become paralyzed with fear. But that very fear of death can be the springboard to greater life. It allows the mundane to become meaningful. It allows us to get the perspective of the possibility of being fully alive.

“Here is the cycle of life writ large. To be born in fire and live in the bright flame of our passions, illuminating the world around us. We live and die in fire, knowing that when we die, we are reborn in the minds and spirits of those who will follow the path we have lit for them across the ages. The path that one day calls all of us home at the dying of the light.” –Silver Surfer

Living life in light of death means appreciating our friends and family with the time we have to spend with them. Time is a luxury, one we may not have in abundance. Living life in light of death means to love, to let people know how you feel, and live in light of an eventual good-bye. It means living life with no regrets. So that leaves the question “how are you going to spend today?”

“People can’t change what they are until and unless they understand what they can be. “ –Spider-Man

For the Silver Surfer, it meant living a life of freedom. He held to a vision of peace. The Sentinel of the Spaceways is the personification of hope who models what people should aspire to be. He has the power to rip apart the sun, yet he uses his cosmic might to defend the innocent and the oppressed. His life echoes the story of Christ in that he left a mark “to remind them of the man who had made peace his cause, his life, and who had ultimately died in its service.”

“The light of hope, the light of love, the light of possibilities.” –the Watcher

Straczynski wrings genuine moments of emotion out from the smaller encounters in the Silver Surfer’s journey. He understands what makes the Silver Surfer great and serves it up on a platter. Esad Ribic’s painted art elevates the book to near mythic heights and is truly lovely to behold. Captures the cosmic aspect of the Surfer, yet grounds it in a hyper realism. It’s a simple story that frames the life of the Silver Surfer. Predictable, but merely an exercise in prose, as no character is truly in jeopardy at the height of their popularity.