CoverSilver Surfer #144, Vol. 3
Published by Marvel Comics
Early October, 1998

Reviewed by Lord Thanos

Writer: John Marc DeMatteis
Penciler: Jon J. Muth
Inks: Jon J. Muth
Colorist: Tom Smith
Letters: John Costanza
Chief: Bob Harras

Original Price: $1.99
Current Value: $1.99

History Behind Issue: The Mergence Saga Continues from issue #143

Plot: When we last saw our hero, he and Tenebrae were the bound captives of PSYCHO-MAN! Trapped inside stasis tubes flooded with chemicals, they are bombarded with psycho-kinetic photons. Tenebrae whimpers to the Surfer, "Don't let him hurt me... any more!" Psycho-Man's amused and malignant reply comes "...The Silver Surfer is in no position to help anyone -- except,"

Silverado takes stock of his situation, a captive in sub-Atomica. Looking at Tenebrae trapped in the next tube, he finds compassion for her where once there was only burning rage. He gathers his resolve, "I am still dazed from his wanton assault... but I must gather the Power Cosmic and escape this chemical tank before..." KLICK. AHHHHHHHHH-!! Psycho-Man renews his mental attack upon our hero, stripping away the self-image of the cosmic being once herald to Galactus, leaving only a vulnerable Norrin Radd. Shalla Bal appears, accusing him. "You played the cosmic savior when you left our world behind! But you didn't become the Silver Surfer to save us from Galactus-- you were using him to ESCAPE Zenn-La!"

Meekly, the Surfer protests if only she knew the trials his soul had under gone in the service of the monster Galactus, the loss of his humanity, she would not judge him so! Would he give it all up then? Would he renounce his powers and return to her? But Norrin knows the truth is not so simple, and this image of the woman who was once his beloved is only an illusion. He turns his back on her , on all illusions and lies! "Hear me, Psycho-Man! All beings are filled with complexities and contradictions! We are all torn by opposites... by the unrelenting duality of our souls! And if you think that showing me the contradictions in my own soul will somehow break me-- then you are painfully... pitifully--WRONG!!"

The power cosmic surges through him, again Norrin Radd is The Silver Surfer! He explodes out of the evil encasement entrapping him! Psycho-Man is bewildered at the ease of Silverado's escape.The Surfer explains, he was taken unawares when overwhelmed by the psychic assault! But he has faced his inner shadows in the past and has made peace with them. The cosmic crusader draws the swirling psyco-kinetic energies within himself, and then discharges them...into Psycho-Man!

Enveloped in a palpable wave of terror Psycho-Man whines, "Please... Make it stop!" The vile fiend is really a victim of his own intense paranoia. Believing all beings, in all realities are out to destroy him, he fears them. What he fears must be conquered! Sadistically subjugating the minds of others to ausage his own infantile insecurity. The Surfer pities him. While Psycho-Man weeps in a fetal ball, Silverado frees Tenebrae. Having endured mutual torture at their captors hands, he embraces her in solace. Tears in her eyes she whispers "thank you... thank you--"

"After all we have done... to you and the woman you love-- you still open your heart to us?! Never in all the centuries of our existence-- have we known--SUCH A LUDICROUS FOOL!

She fiercely attacks him. Now the Surfer is as bewildered as Psycho-Man was. Our hero again falls to an unexpected onslaught!

Flying through Sub-Atomica Cy-phyrr 4 and... Alicia Masters???? She is wearing an "inter-stellar body suit!" Now equipped with "quantum sight" she has the ability to perceive the underlying energy patterns of things. Coursing with power, she flies along the side of her cybernetic companion. Again she contemplates the soul of this machine man. How noble she thinks, how like her Norrin! She is certain given the opportunity, she can get him to turn against his master. Cy-phyrr 4 has locked onto Tenebrae's energy pattern. He picks up the particle trail of The Surfer as well as an unknown one.

The Coroner, slowly picking his bleeding face from the desert floor, curses himself for rebelling against the Mergence. Why he wonders did he help a world he loathes, a world he wished to see dead, a black cinder. Then a sound he well knows, the Mergence! Metallic cables plunge into and consume his flesh. A voice in his mind. "We call to you Coroner-- across fathomless space-- to offer you--A second chance."

The Surfer's compassion again has been repaid with deceit. He ponders his foolishness. How many times has his heart been betrayed, blinded by his naivete about the inherent goodness of even his enemies. He is dumbstruck, paralyzed by rage and shame. At this moment he would give into blissful death, were it not for Alicia. His resolve renewed he bristles with the power cosmic. Enraged he threatens to leave Tenebrae an empty husk, devoid of consciousness. But these are empty words from our hero. He can not bring himself to do it. Tenebrae scoffs at him, "Again you fail! I have no doubt you could do these terrible things you promise-- But your inherent decency holds you back! And that very decency will be your ENDING!"

Furious Silverado says his compassion has limits. Seizing Tenebrae by the throat, he scowls, "Prepare to have your atoms scattered across eternity!"

With an icy evil grin Tenebrae, trumps him. "Kill me-- and your precious Alicia dies, too! She is Sub-Atomica-- and only I can lead you to her!" The Surfer's relief is only equaled by his pain at this revelation. His pain is suddenly physical, when the forgotten Psycho-Man skillfully siphons off the power cosmic into his machines, shocking the Surfer senseless! "What have you done to him?" exclaims Tenebrae. The malicious megalomaniac explains. The former representative of the Mergence congratulates him. Seductively she saunters toward him. Sliding her curvaceous body against him. her breasts pressed hard against his chest, she embraces him and offers an alliance. Her green pouting lips turned upward to his face, "We are both born to conquer, to absorb that which is less than us. Together, I think, we can subjugate not just one universe-- But all universes-- in all creation! From Sub-Atomica... to the Macroverse!"

Psycho-Man's hunger for power is aroused, "I am intrigued."

Breathy with passion and promise she replies, "Then teach me. Teach me--EVERYTHING!"

On the edge of space... At the very borders of time and existence... through a sea of cosmic energy, a vortex of primal force... strides the DESTROYER. The CONSUMER OF WORLDS.   GALACTUS!

As he struggles within the awesome maelstrom, we see Galactus's eyes. If he were a mortal being we would ascribe fear to the gleam which streams from them!

Cy-phyrr 4 and Alicia finally catch sight of Psycho-Man's ship. Alicia can see the Surfer's energy signature radiating from the ship. Hurdling straight up toward a rippling hole in the intra-universal continuum. A hole that leads back to Earth! Alicia senses an EVIL purpose about the ship and knows they must stop it. Cy-phyrr declares he must reach HER at all costs. He can't transverse from the Microverse to the Equiverse on his own. He must overtake the vessel's time-space wave and surf it to Earth. He takes off leaving Alicia to eat cosmic dust. She cries "wait!" But he rides the space-time wave without her, leaving her alone stranded in the Microverse.

Psycho-Man and Tenebrae arrive back on Earth, where The Surfer defeated the Mergence, the desert. Tenebrae strides down the platform from the ship followed by Psycho-Man carrying the Surfer's limp body. She is greeted by Cy-phyrr 4. Where is your captive she demands, why have you disobeyed my orders? He explains and states he can retrieve his hostage if she wishes. As she begins to issue orders to him, she and Cy-phyrr are blown off their feet by a concessive blast. A fearsome, horned, green creature in armor with the coroner's cane, confronts them. "HEAR us, Tenebrae-- we who were once the Coroner now speak with the voice of the MERGENCE! In choosing individuality over the collective consciousness of our race-- you have betrayed us... and all that we are. And for that--- YOU MUST DIE!

With the Surfer vanquished nothing can prevent the absorption of Earth! "This night-- at long last-- every living thing upon this world--BECOMES OURS!"

Comments: This is an excellent follow up to the previous issue! Again Muth gives us a beautiful splash page. As much as I dislike the Moebius/Muth style, I love the splash pages on this issue & on #142. Psycho-Man has a slight Kirby look about him. The Surfer on this splash page is one of Muth's best. The pathos of the Surfer's expression remind me of classic Buscema surfer. I only wish that Muth's art was more consistent through out the mag. Tenebrae is well drawn through-out the issue. I also have to make special note of the art for the last page, the teaser for next issue. A nice full page pic of the transformed Coroner! This is great! I hate to keep making Jack Kirby comparisons, but if this drawing doesn't remind you of Kirby, I don't know what would! I feel Muth's art is better on large panels, the greater detail seems to allow him to utilize his style to provide a truly awesome picture, but we don't get enough of that. If Muth stays on SS more big panels please!

As to the writing, finally with these last few issues DeMatteis has hit his stride! #143 & #144 are in my opinion the best issues DeMatteis has written for the Surfer! The Alicia Masters Power up! This sucks! It's weak & contrived. Someone Kill this woman & put her out of my misery! "Quantum sight"?? (Lord Thanos's eyes roll up in disgust) do I really have to say what tripe this is! The Cy-phyrr 4 / Surfer parallel! I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I like the use of such a classic literary technique. On the other it is sometimes lacking subtlety. The way Cy-phyrr sounds like Surfer was alright, I didn't find that too heavy handed (I mean this is a comic book). But could we hear less about Alicia comparing him to the Surfer! My head hurts from being hit with this so often! And this last bit about catching the time-space wave verges on being clumsy but just passes. Where is this going? Obviously Alicia is going to get Cy-phyrr to turn from his Master Just has she turned the Surfer from his! Will the Surfer abandon Alicia has Cy-phyrr did, to catch the space time wave? Will The Surfer abandon Alicia to chase after another woman who "owns" his soul? Somehow I think not, but I can only hope! The appearance of Galactus!!!!!! Triple cosmic power points!!!!! YEAH!!! I am so excited about Galactus gracing the pages of SS again! All I can say is ABOUT TIME! It's a two page tease! Pretty much just an intro about Galactus and the nature of the World Devourer. Could have gone for a real large panel with Muth letting loose of his creative juices but alas just some moderate pics. The best 2 are the panel at the bottom with Galactus's eye beams surging skyward! And The panel at the top of the next page a 3 quarters view of Galactus's face! I really want Muth to do a large Galactus pic! I see great potential! All in all, this is a top notch issue. I am just sorry that it is so late in DeMatteis's run as the pen behind the Surfer. So much damage has been done to the mag that it is now on the chopping block! Looking forward to next issue however, even if it is the second to the last!

Written by Lord Thanos



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