Of all the things Marvel is very good at, putting out comic book collections at opportune times is definitely one of them. One of the latest Epic Collections is the sixth volume of Silver Surfer entitled Thanos Quest. This book details the comeback of Thanos, his acquiring the Infinity Gems, and the building story of Silver Surfer’s character. It’s a wild collection and here are three reasons why.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Mad Titan is on a quest for Death! The Silver Surfer may believe he has killed Thanos, but the terrible truth is that the Titan still lives – and that’s bad news for the Marvel Universe because Thanos’ great love has sent him on a space-faring search for the Infinity Gems! Meanwhile, the Surfer tackles a deadly life-form and deals with the madness of Dynamo City! But when Thanos returns from his quest, glove on hand and hell-bent for revenge, do the Surfer, Galactus and Drax the Destroyer stand a chance? And whose side will Mephisto be on? Norrin Radd must face his past as events build to a confrontation that sets the stage for the cosmic epic, INFINITY GAUNTLET!
Can I jump in easily?
You’ll only need a basic knowledge of Silver Surfer and Thanos to dig into this collection. At the start of this collection, Silver Surfer is surfing the cosmos free of Galactus and attempting to do good while wrestling with the guilt of killing entire worlds. Midway through this collection, Thanos gains the approval of Death to seek out and acquire the Infinity Gems which sets up the Infinity Gauntlet storyline.
Reason 1: The intriguing complexity of Silver Surfer.
Even though the middle of this collection is devoted to Thanos Quest #1 and #2 it’s mostly about Silver Surfer. Those chapters are there simply to set up the eventual conflict between the metallic hero and Thanos as we learn the Silver Surfer is the only character in the cosmos who can defeat Thanos. Before that conflict Silver Surfer must learn what it is like to not have his powers, fight strange alien enemies, and make a decision to not seek justice due to his powers potentially killing many innocent lives to free them. And that’s just the first half. The second half probes Silver Surfer’s deep guilt for helping Galactus kill billions — he receives a soul adjustment to truly understand this guilt, and then later gets a revealing flashback of his issues with his father. Writer Jim Starlin effectively fleshes out Silver Surfer’s character and adds complexity to a character who was otherwise unrelatable and strange.
Reason 2: Thanos, Drax, and Adam Warlock all shine.
Thanos Quest #1 and #2 are collected here which is the beginning of the story of how Thanos acquired each of the Infinity Gems (or stones if you will). Much of his original characterization is contained here as well as his growing conflict with the Silver Surfer. Through the stories here we also learn more about Adam Warlock and his existence inside the Soul Gem (along with Gamora among others). In an adventure within the Soul Gem (how trippy) Silver Surfer and Drax the Destroyer must figure out how to get out unbeknownst to Thanos. Drax had his mind basically wiped in an earlier story and ends up being a Hulk-like persona with not much brains but a ton of strength and motivation. It’s in this story we get a Gamora vs. Drax showdown as well as a reminder of how powerful Drax is especially compared to the character in the movies. Adam Warlock also gets a full flashback and is characterized as a wise and calm sort of character who has a hidden temper. He’s an intriguing character due to his backstory, but also his demeanor.
Reason 3: Exploring new worlds and their strange customs.
In an early story arc within this collection Silver Surfer must go to a strange alien world named Dynamo City where all cosmic energy is siphoned off aliens and used to power its city. It’s one of the first times Silver Surfer was reduced to a normal human with only his metal body protecting him, rendering him as powerful as any human. This story explores the ridiculous nature of politicians and the unfair nature of big city life. Jim Starlin explores a lot of fascinating elements in this arc which include the incessant need to cloud the people’s minds with entertainment and it puts the Silver Surfer into a compromised position. It’s in this story we learn about a strange alien culture which reflects our own. The amount of imaginative worlds and aliens displayed in this collection is exceptional and it’s a reminder of how ingenious and entertaining cosmic characters can be.
Reasons to be wary?
The Thanos Quest issues in this collection stray far from the Silver Surfer character arc and story. It does organically fit in since it dovetails into the last quarter of the story, but the Silver Surfer character arc suffers as he’s not a part of the story for a good chunk of this book. This leads to another issue in regards to Thanos’ claim the Silver Surfer is the only character that can take him out. A quick read through of the Infinity Gauntlet Wikipedia reveals Starlin originally intended to tell the “Infinity Gauntlet” story within Silver Surfer but it was later decided to make it a big summer crossover event. As you read this collection you realize the Silver Surfer was intended to be much more important and he was possibly going to end up taking out Thanos all on his own. This would have made Silver Surfer even more popular I’m sure, but it also makes the narrative here somewhat confusing. We’re never once given an explanation as to why Thanos knows the Silver Surfer is the only character who can stop him. It’s also rather strange Thanos has all the power of the universe in his gauntlet and yet he allows the Silver Surfer to not only live, but also rush to Earth to warn all the heroes. Maybe that’s his pride, but it comes off as silly since he’s so powerful here.
Is there a rationale to the reasons?
This is a great read that further proves the cosmic side of the Marvel universe is rife with stories and great characters. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see hints of what is written here in future Marvel movies. If phase 4 for Marvel is going to be much more tied into space this volume proves we’re all going to be enjoying ourselves for years to come.
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