CoverSilver Surfer #9, Vol. 3
Published by Marvel Comics
March, 1988


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: Doomsday is here! (No, not the Superman guy :-) ‘Nuff said? Oh yes, and if the universe doesn’t die, somebody will (insert foreboding drum roll here)...

Plot: The concluding chapter in the Elders vs. Galactus story begins in deep space, where nine dark figures meet to alter destiny. The Contemplator is telling the Astronomer how the Surfer drove the Supreme Intelligence mad last issue, and how he now has the sixth Soul Gem they so desperately need to kill Galactus! But, lucky for them, he is unaware of this, as he is about the predicament of two of the people he cares most about—Shalla Bal and Mantis, who are trapped by the Elders in an energy bubble. The Grandmaster assures his brothers there is nothing to worry about, and the
Contemplator’s news about the now literally mindless Kree empire proves his point. The Collector’s glad that both the Kree and the Skrull have lost that what’s worth most to them (i.e. shape-changin ability and the S.I.), and when the Contemplator warns them that the Kree do have a leader, namely Nenora, the Possessor can’t help but snigger. For he knows that in fact she is a Skrull! The Runner can’t help but think that this war would be kinda fun—a pity they’re about to destroy reality!

In the meantime, the Surfer actually does know that something happened to Mantis, and since she obviously wasn’t able to escape via plant-mode, the Gardener must have something to do with it. While he’s fondly remembering her beautiful body, and the way he and his board will be there to save her (as he overcame all other obstacles), he is greeted by the awesome image of the Gardener himself, who tells him where they currently are. If he comes to them and gives them the Soul Gem, their prisoners won’t be harmed. I guess you know what his reaction is, right? Right, he swiftly soars to the Cone Nebula to save his loved ones. He arrives very quickly thanks to the use of hyperspace (is it me, or has it been a long time since hyperspace was mentioned in the Surfer’s comic?), and tells them he has been waiting for this confrontation quite some time.

Of course, he can’t actually do something, or Mantis and Shalla will die. Mantis doesn’t want Norrin to give the gem to the Elders, because she knows the destruction it will cause in their hands. She is nothing compared to the entire universe. Shalla Bal can’t help but agree with her lover’s new “friend”, and says they’re not worthy to give up the universe for. (Hey, tough choice, either they die now, or they do a few minutes later!) The Surfer contemplates his actions, and suddenly tries to fly to the rescue, but the Gardener’s soul gem (because that’s what the energy bubble is) is swiftly snatched away, and it’ll always be quicker than Norrin Radd.

Under the protests of the two women the Surfer then decides to give them the gem (huh?), and the Grandmaster repays him in kind by hurling Mantis and Shalla into the depths of space, making sure the Surfer won’t be around to bother them when they prepare to—destroy all that is! And, as is the way of villainy, the Grandmaster has inserted a way to cheat (don’t they always?). Faster and faster the Surfer approaches, ready to save his women, but, at his faintest touch, the sphere explodes! Only one of them can be saved, and it’s not this one... Indeed, although the Surfer reached for Mantis (and he says so himself), knowing only one could be rescued, it’s Shalla Bal who he know holds in his arms. He cries out Mantis’s name, and swiftly returns to the place of the explosion. Only 15 seconds have passed since that fateful moment, but there’s nothing to be seen, no one to be found.

Shalla Bal wants to say something, but the Surfer rudely interrupts her, and just as quickly he apologizes for snapping at her. Shalla Bal tells him how Mantis tried to escape, tried to warn him, and although she didn’t like Mantis, she knew her former lover did indeed love her. But what is love for Zenn-Lavians, the Surfer retorts. In all the centuries that have passed since he became Galactus’s herald, they have only met four times. They called that love. We Earthians however, are much more passionate, much more appreciative of life, and it probably rubbed off. And we mustn’t forget that Mantis was chosen as the Celestial Madonna because she was the most important representative of Earth. And then he admits he loved her...

...And for her death, he will have his revenge!

Meanwhile, in deep space, Nova, Galactus’s current herald, is inspecting a planet to see if it can feed Galactus, who once again hungers. When she arises from the mists surrounding the planet she sees a flare resembling hers signaling Galactus, who undoubtedly will go to it, assuming his herald will have found a suitable planet to provide the necessary energy. She flies to her master’s aid, who is standing on his space ship, contemplating the arrogance of the Elders, the only beings in the entire universe rivaling his own age. (By the way, this page is an awesome piece of art!) The Elders tell Galactus he won’t grow any older, since his death is quite imminent. On that, Nova replies they must be crazy, as she asks them if they don’t know Galactus is necessary for the universe to survive! Naturally, as we all know, they do. That’s just the plan! Then Galactus himself speaks, emphasizing their folly, as he knows for a fact that this universe isn’t ready to perish yet, since he “alone knows Death and Eternity as brothers in being”. (Interesting, that. Let’s hope we get to know some more about that, okay?) The Elders aren’t about to give up, however, and they boast how even mighty Galactus can be brought to his knees, if one can only find the right power and uses it wisely! And then their plan finally unfolds: the Elders have aimed on the big G’s primary weakness, namely his reliance on planets to keep him alive. They’re using the Soul Gems on the six planets of the star system they’re in to absorb Galactus’s energy through the resonances of the gems on the planets. Without his energy, he’ll simply starve to death! (Cunning, ain’t it?) And lo and behold, Galactus is faltering, without the possibility to strike back. Nova wants to help her master by trying to destroy the planets being used by the Elders, for her power is that of a sun, but against the combined might of the Soul Gems, nothing can avail! The Elders are actually winning, Galactus is falling apart! Oh no! And then, from out of nowhere, faster than the eye can see, the Silver Surfer, whom the Elders thought to have perished in the blast earlier on, reappears and deflects the energy beam which is sucking away Galactus’s life force. The Surfer hurriedly advises Nova to destroy the sun holding the planets, ensuring that the planets will be thrown out of their respective courses, undoing the Elders’ plan. She dives into the sun, and it goes nova! Woo-hoo! But what happens when a sun dies? It becomes a black hole! The platform of the Elders, the very fabric of the universe is ripping itself apart and being sucked into the black hole, over which the Elders don’t have any hold, since black holes don’t tend to have souls! While the Grandmaster is cursing the Silver Surfer for a fool (because the Elders cannot die, but the Surfer can!), Galactus is attempting to get to the control board of his ship before it’s consumed by the raging powers around him. When he does so, the power he’s lost returns to him, and during this process, the Elders and the Surfer are about to be engulfed in the black hole. But if his own demise is the price for saving the universe, the Surfer sees no harm done! (Always the noble guy, isn’t he? Nova thinks so, too.)

When all seems lost, when Nova, Norrin and the Elders are almost gone, the tide changes, for Galactus’s trembling might has been returned to him, and with the help of his machines he has stagnated the black hole, saving everybody’s life! Galactus lives,to say it in his own words: “And now, gnats—now we shall have a reckoning!” (Do I have to tell you this story is “to be continued”?)

Comments: Where to begin? I don’t know, but this story had it all: heart-gripping drama, beautiful art and exciting space-faring action! The cover was a masterpiece! Page 12 with Galactus was a masterpiece too, as were the pages depicting the ravaging effects of the black hole! We got three wonderful women by Marshall Rogers, and although one of them dies, we don’t actually see a body, so anything’s possible (yay!). The dialogue was great, you could really feel the Surfer’s emotions (and those of the others as well, of course). I loved the Grandmaster’s boasting, especially when moments later his plan quite literally explodes in his face! This one is a sight  for soar eyes, people, and a must-read! Absolutely! I’m not telling anymore! Just get the issue!

Written by The Collector


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