CoverSilver Surfer #3, Vol. 3
Published by Marvel Comics
September, 1987

"Heaven"

Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Marshall Rogers
Inks: Joe Rubinstein
Colorist: Marshall Rogers
Letters: John Workman
Editor: Michael Higgens
Chief: Jim Shooter

Original Price: $0.75
Current Value: $6.00

History Behind Issue: The Surfer has another “run-in” with an Elder, and boy, does his butt gets kicked! (Whose butt, you ask? Read the issue! Or the review...)

Plot: Our tale begins on a tragic note, as the Collector meets his dead wife again for the first time in three billion years (gasp). Thanks to the Grandmaster (don’t ask me how), she has been allowed safe passage from Death’s realm, and now the two lovers are reunited, or are they? For it seems Taneleer Tivan’s wife, Matani, had died so many years ago from apathy, the world, nay, the entire universe didn’t captivate or interest her anymore, and so she died. After her lengthy restful slumber, she doesn’t feel the renewed desire to live, and, in the arms of her broken husband, dies again...
We see the Collector stand there, holding his beloved, for quite some time, as the shadows around him grow larger. But then the silence is interrupted by the blazing entrance of the Silver Surfer, who apparently has returned from Death’s realm on a mission I don’t have the details of, since I am not in the possession of WCA Annual #2 and Avengers Annual #16. As a matter of fact, if I had bought this issue in ‘87, I wouldn’t have had them either, since they weren’t on sale yet when this story was published, forcing the editors to say they wouldn’t spoil the surprise just yet. Let me tell you, I think this is one of the worst things that can happen when you’re an editor: bad timing (but those remarks are for later, so let’s move on).

After being attacked by the Champion and finding out about the Elders’ sinister plans, the Surfer wants to get as much information as the Collector can possibly provide. The crafty Elder claims to know nothing about his “brother” or his motives, and wants the Surfer to leave so he can grieve in peace over his wife. The sight of the Collector’s loss reminds the Surfer of his own loss last issue, when Shalla-Bal was denied to him
because of her responsibilities. When Norrin Radd asks the Collector if he isn’t just playing him for a fool, someone responds in Tivan’s place: Espirita, one of the West Coast Avengers, about whom I can provide little or no information, I’m afraid. (Still filling up the WCA back-issue collection, I suppose :)

Anyhow, after the events following the annuals, the Collector wanted to collect Espirita (I dunno why), so she was a witness to the happenings that went on before, and she can vouch for the sincerity of his grief. The Surfer is prepared to leave it at that and says he’ll try to get to the bottom of this, and the Collector better not be connected with the other Elders’ plans, or else...

As both the Silver Surfer and Espirita soar away, Taneleer Tivan contacts—the Champion! (Who else?). He warns his brother about the threat the Surfer might pose, and gets the advice to rest, but he won’t give his heart time to grieve again, and will continue with their plan. Behind him, some sort of plants express... thought?! Hmmm...

Back with the Surfer, his companion is commenting on Earth’s beauty, as the sun is setting. Norrin answers he can’t feel the same, as Earth had been a prison to him for far too long. He just returned to save the Avengers. The “saving” part makes Espirita ask him whether he is some sort of messiah (hey, doesn’t that sound familiar? Hey, J.M., why not involve Espirita in your current messiah story? Just a suggestion...). Some nice thoughts follow, and then we skip to a Kree ship monitoring the Milky Way, where a bored private wants to kill something. He is lectured by his captain, and
then they notice a dot on their radar, marking the arrival of a Skrull vessel.

It’s ambassador Ptakr’s ship, the Skrull who went to Zenn-La last issue. We get some cool star wars scenes, and when it looks like they’re going to be imprisoned, Ptakr says they’re going to go to the paradise promised all brave Skrulls! When the Kree board, every Skrull on the ship has been blown to bits from the inside out (nasty)! The Kree captain wonders what they were trying to hide, and a cactus on the floor thinks (again with the plants thinking! Hmmm...) the Kree are one step closer to finding out the Skrulls have lost their shape-changing power.

Meanwhile, the Surfer is flying through space, pondering the Elders. As he has no business on Zenn-La just now, he wants to discover what they’re up to. He knows of seven Elders (although there are probably more) and of those seven he has already met the Grandmaster, the Collector and the Champion. That leaves the Gardener, the Contemplator, the Possessor and the Runner. Right at the moment the Surfer speaks the Runner’s name, a golden-skinned guy pops up, who greets the Surfer politely. The Runner makes the Surfer feel remarkably comfortable, and he can’t help smiling.

When he asks what the Runner’s business with him is, goldibods congenially answers he has come to kill the Silver Surfer! When Norrin is hit, he still likes the Runner, who can somehow control emotions, but that doesn’t mean he can control the Power Cosmic! The Runner misguidedly believes the Surfer will be helpless without his board, but we all know the board is a part of our silvery hero, and when the Silver Surfer calls, his board returns. Now we’re all ready for the ensuing battle! They clash, their hands clinched in each other’s iron grips, their power surging through their shining bodies, and then, the unthinkable happens: the Surfer is defeated!!! Unable to stand up right, he plummets to the surface of some planet, and crashes.

Way down in the crater created by the Surfer’s fall, our charred and battered hero is hurting, and can’t help but wonder if this is his untimely end. But luckily for him, “this one” has arrived to help him regain his powers and ease his pain (you know who I’m talking about, don’t you, dear reader ;) And indeed, when the Surfer opens his eyes and glances at the figure bending over him, he believes himself to be in heaven, as he gazes in the blinding beauty that is—Mantis! Woo-hoo!

Comments: Yay! Mantis is back! I really really like Mantis, you know! Another very nice touch were the opening scenes with the Collector and his wife. Very touching indeed, especially the three panels where he stands there, unmoving, obviously hurting a lot. Englehart and Rogers out did themselves there.

More good stuff: the Kree/Skrull meeting, the communicating plantlife, and the little chat with Espirita. Both were also very cute touches, making the whole so much more enjoyable.

Espirita’s appearance didn’t seem all that necessary to me, and the fact she was there because of events going on in annuals that aren’t even on the market yet sure looks confusing to me. Not one of the better things that ever happened in a Surfer comic (okay, the series was just starting, and there were some minor cock-ups in the early stages, but still...) The battle with the Runner was cool on the one hand, but yet, it seems strange that the Runner actually is mightier than the Surfer. It doesn’t really make sense, and it looked like it was just necessary for the Surfer to lose so Mantis could tend to him in a heavenly way.  And a last thing, nothing much happened, really. The Surfer sees the Collector, the Skrulls commit suicide, and Norrin battles the Runner for a short time. That’s it. Not much to talk about (although I did, didn’t I? :-)

Nice story, nice art, but not as special as the last two. Although it’s great that the events of an annual are followed up on, it didn’t work well here. It made things somewhat confusing. Luckily, Mantis returned at the end, and that’s worth a whole lot, all the more because she is the definite Englehart creation. So let’s say three-and-a-half stars for this one: not sublime, but certainly above average. If not for the little things like the plants and stuff, it would have been a star less, proving Englehart knows his profession quite well. Where is he nowadays anyway? I’d like to see him write something again, I really do...

Written by The Collector

 

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