If you ask me, cosmic superheroes are too rare these days, especially with Silver Surfer as one of the coolest yet underused characters in that area of Marvel. While we know Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti are working on something cosmic, that itch can be scratched this week thanks to John Jennings and Valentine De Landro’s Silver Surfer: Ghost Light.
For fans of deep-cut Marvel lore, prick up your ears and find this issue right now. It connects to a Stan Lee and Steve Ditko character created in 1969, which was revealed at NYCC. That character is deeply connected to Silver Surfer. While this character is the “next great hero” the cover promises, Jennings and De Landro craft their tale through a young girl and her family.
The story starts with a family who just moved to Sweetwater, New York. Toni has weird dreams of a glowing green man but doesn’t think much of it. Her grandmother thinks she has abilities–all the women do in their family–but she thinks nothing of it. Over the first few pages, we meet Toni’s family, who all look, act, and talk like any average family today. It thoroughly grounds the book, setting up the wonders Toni and her brother will discover later in the issue. We also get some earned setup in these scenes involving Jazz and Toni feeling alienated as a Black girl from the city moving to the suburbs.
As the story progresses, we learn something weird happened in the town, giving it an insidious, supernatural element. What happened to an entire town where all memory was wiped, even from machines?
One could easily see the narrative here adapted into film or TV. You spend time getting to know Toni’s entire family, the story sets up the main character for a big kid adventure, and we even get to see them check out some super advanced lab tech. Jennings also smartly cuts to a mysterious woman who works in a lab and gets wind that something is up in Sweetwater. These scenes all build towards the eventual reveal of Silver Surfer, who comes in like a supernatural entity that deserves awe.
On the reverse side of the adaptation coin, this first issue also feels like the first half of an hour-long opening episode. We don’t quite have the entire hook of the series yet. It’s hard to know where the story is going without a clear antagonist or knowing how Toni fits in with Ghost Light and vice versa. It’s okay not to know every detail after the first issue, but I still want a bit more to understand what it’s going for.
Speaking of Silver Surfer, De Landro draws the hell out of him on the final page and some tremendous first-person POV shots of him moving impossibly fast to Sweetwater, New York. The mysterious green glowing man that Toni sees is also cool to see, with an indie comics look and feel. Matt Milla’s colors bring up the bright lights of the green man and Silver Surfer, especially in the lab. De Landro’s style suits the realistic and grounded approach the story takes.
Silver Surfer: Ghost Light #1 is a good start to a slower burn tale introducing a hero who has deep connections to Silver Surfer. If you’re looking for a story that’s grounded in reality, yet features cosmic entities, look no further. Silver Surfer: Ghost Light reminds us cosmic Marvel is filled with wonderment.
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