CoverSilver Surfer #8, Vol. 3
Published by Marvel Comics
February, 1988

"Soul, Sweet Soul"

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

Original Price: $0.75
Current Value: $4.00

History Behind Issue:After having been underhandedly defeated, the Silver Surfer is on the verge of being assimilated into the Supreme Intelligence’s conscience—courtesy of the sixth Soul Gem! (Which, by the way, is very much desired by the Elders to destroy Galactus—you may have heard of him; big pink guy, square eyes, funny headpiece, Devourer of Worlds and all that... :) Will he be able to defeat the Kree Supremor, or is this the silver dude’s last gasp? Plus: Shalla Bal meets one of the Surfer’s new *ahem* friends!

Plot: As the story opens, we see the Silver Surfer sitting in a comfy chair reading his paper, while his lovely spouse Shalla Bal is preparing dinner dressed in a Fantastic Four costume. The Surfer himself is wearing a trench coat, sunglasses and hat, and oh yes, there’s a rat, too. First reaction—all together now—huh?!? Don’t worry, this isn’t real, it’s all in the mind, the Supreme Intelligence’s mind, that is. Lots of images the Surfer’s familiar with are popping up in this “dream/vision/whatever-you-want-to-call-it”, like Mantis in her different incarnations, a humongous pipe (ceci n’est pas une pipe?), sunflowers and other weird stuff. Suddenly someone’s banging at the door, and when the Surfer answers, he’s attacked by some blue Kree. They’re hitting him hard, and though he thinks it doesn’t hurt that much, his rat attacks one of the Kree and the Surfer takes his chance to run... Like a rat! Switch back to reality, where Nenora (you know,  the Skrull spy trapped in her female blue Kree form who hasn’t been caught by the S.I.) asks her master if the Surfer’s troubling. Greeny says it’s nothing and tells her to do her job. She then hides in a hallway and contacts Aptak, another Skrull who’s also trapped in his current form. Nenora brings Kylor, the pretender to the Skrull throne, up to date, telling him of the mind-shattering events from last issue (see my review for Silver Surfer #7 for details). The Skrulls are very interested in the fact that the S.I. would go insane without the Soul Gem, and Kylor orders Nenora to steal the gem to destroy
the Intelligence once and for all. Nenora says that won’t be possible, and has to go because someone’s coming. Aptak thinks about their love, and how she didn’t mention it at all. You see, Aptak was a male before the genetic bomb that changed the Skrull’s DNA-structure, rendering them unable to shift shapes. As Aptak had changed himself into a female Wazilian spy, being lovers is kinda hard this way. (Looks like an inventive way to mention “lesbian love” to me—when two minds are in love, does it matter in what bodies they’re in? Hmm... Worth a discussion.)

The guy approaching Nenora is a scientist who’s experimenting on the Surfer’s board, and so far has found no way to break it down. An excellent way to shift back to the soulscape, where the Silver Surfer is feeling naked. What will the neighbors think?! (Hee-hee) A silver dog appears, asking him what neighbors would think something. Huh, a talking dog, the Surfer thinks. Some fun stuff follows, and everything seems to want to point out to him he doesn’t belong in the S.I.’s mind. The Contemplator
watches all this and returns to his corporeal body to warn the Intelligence the Surfer’s still free. The Kree leader doesn’t worry about it, after all, the Contemplator only
visited his mind, while he is his mind. He’s sure he’ll be able to defeat the Surfer’s soul, since he’s made up of Kree consciousnesses, and the Kree are all warriors! A wave of Kree soldiers attack the Surfer but the plantlife comes to his aid, and he realizes he’s not alone. The dog helps him too, and when he cries Norrin Radd’s name, the Surfer remembers who and what he is. He knows that, as the herald of Galactus, he’s quite invulnerable to the Kree’s petty attacks, but the Power Cosmic doesn’t work here! Luckily he’s not alone, as the dog helps him a hand, again.

Meanwhile, Shalla Bal is pondering the question whether she has heard the plantlife whisper the name of Mantis (who had called out for Shalla last issue when she was attacked by terran plantlife at the command of the Gardener). After trying to put the blame for the Surfer leaving on Mantis and subsequently changing her mind (she realizes who’s really to blame) she wonders if she should try to contact Mantis. Although she doesn’t even like Mantis, she decides to give it a go, and lets her Power Cosmic seep into the plantlife surrounding her, and by concentrating hard she’s able to
“reply”. All she can do now is wait for a new response. Back at the mindscape, the Surfer’s contemplating what he should do now. He knows that every problem he surmounts brings him a step closer to awakening from this dream-state. But since he’s not whole, he can’t use his Power Cosmic. Then a voice says he’s not alone—an eagle’s voice! The Surfer says he expected someone like him, the eagle replies the same, and then a green squid-dragon-monster-thing (just look at the cover and you know what I mean) says the same! It’s another incarnation of the Supreme Intelligence,
who isn’t planning on letting the Surfer go. Quickly the Surfer jumps on the eagle (guess what he really is), and soar towars the monster, but his power has still not returned.

The eagle keeps saying the Surfer’s not alone, but the Intelligence can say the same, for he is the multitude, he is all the Kree combined, he is the Empire! Though not blessed by his cosmic force, the Surfer’s no doozie in any case and rips off one of the dragon’s tentacles. But there are a lot more where that one came from and they’re smothering our hero. The monster’s taunting him, explaining how he cannot hope to survive, since inside his mind the Intelligence is all that is, and has unlimited power at
his command. But the Surfer has a plan, and in the real world his board suddenly jumps up and away from the scientists, blasting straight into the Soul Gem on the Intelligence’s forehead! Inside his mind, the Surfer calls his “bird” to him (nice variation on “To me, my board”, that), which cuts off the monster’s tongue. Now that he has
his board, the Surfer is whole once more, and he can escape through the Soul Gem. Not only that, unknowing of what will happen to the S.I., he takes the gem with him, causing the Intelligence to collapse in utter madness! Nenora cries out the Empire has been beheaded, and the Contemplator is more worried about the fact that the Surfer now has the gem they so desperately need.

And for the frantic final scenes we zap back to Zenn-La, where Shalla Bal is greeted not by Mantis, but by someone who considers her and Mantis weeds compared to his mastery of plantlife—the Gardener! Can you say “to be continued”?!

Comments: This issue was filled with symbolism and funny, clever remarks, and I didn’t give away much of them to make the actual read somewhat more enjoyable. I liked the dream images a lot, they kinda made sense, I dunno. But the fact that there was a lot of humor combined with psychological insights was simply delightful! Other cool things: the board returning to its/his master; Shalla Bal’s feeling about Mantis; some insight in Aptak and Nenora’s relationship; and of course the awesome monster Marshall Rogers created as the Surfer’s foe in the mindscape. Wow! Rogers’s art was incredible this issue, although we didn’t get any Mantis or Elders (okay, a bit Mantis in the beginning, and a few shots of the Contemplator and one of the Gardener, but that’s not a lot, you know :)

But, there were some bad parts. There was no Mantis *sniff* and no real development of the war itself (which doesn’t matter, since wars that get resolved in three or four issues are completely unrealistic anyway, and the Surfer got the spotlight this time around, without bogging down his own title—hey, shouldn’t this be in the “good”
section?!) For the rest, I was very satisfied with this one.

Interesting stuff here. People are always looking at DeMatteis for psychological stories, but Englehart proves he’s a master at it as well! And he’s funny too, without being stupid (like me :) As I said before, awesome art, very crisp and detailed, with beautiful portrayals of the dragon and the eagle (and even the rat). Consider this one a full score, people. Five stars, without a doubt! (Anyone wonder if I’m ever going to give six out of five? I wouldn’t put it past me... Heh heh heh)

Written by The Collector

 

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