Friday, May 25, 2007

Masques! (Marvel comics)
Silver Surfer #13 When: July 1988
Why: Steve Englehart How: Joe Staton

The story so far...
The Kree Supreme Intelligence has fallen, and civil unrest over the choice of his successor has the blue and pink empire riddled with insubordinates. Fortunately for the empire and it's new ruler; Ronan, Supreme Accuser, is more than up to the task of preventing successful rebellion or assassination.

Too bad for Ronan he doesn't know the new Supreme Leader he defends so vigilantly is in fact a shape-shifting member of their sworn enemy -- the Skrull!

To distract Ronan from the developing Skrull plans, and to eliminate the Silver Surfer's allegiance with the Kree, the phony Supreme Leader sends Ronan on a mission to accuse and execute the Surfer. Ronan relishes the opportunity to clash with the power cosmic, but will the unaware Surfer be so full of glee?

Previous Form:
Silver Surfer (#76): Gained a victory for his universe against Green Lantern.
Ronan: The Accuser has not yet been featured on the site.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Ronan 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Silver Surfer 5 (Professor)
Speed: Silver Surfer 7 (Light Speed)
Stamina: Draw 6 (Generator)
Agility: Silver Surfer 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Ronan 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Silver Surfer 7 (Solar Power)

Not listed is the two character's glee, which is decidedly in Ronan's favour.
Actually, if you really wanted to break it down, you might say the Silver Surfer was "emo" before emo even existed. Which is actually of relevance, because as we see in a scene prior to combat here, the Silver Surfer is in one of his periods of adjusting to the development of emotion, specifically in reference to the death of Mantis. That, however, is a story for another post.

Generally the Silver Surfer is about as powerful as they come, but like so many other heroic powerhouses, he is readily made vulnerable by his investment and caring for things like life. A Surfer coming to terms with his emotions usually means a Surfer who is more volatile, whose impulses are easily exploited in combat.

If anyone were unfeeling and calculated enough to capitalize on such a perceived weakness, it would no doubt be the Accuser! Though he lacks the Silver Surfer's zen-style cosmic awareness, he remains a supreme strategist.

Statistically the Silver Surfer has most character's number, but that is more representative of potential than actual implementation of the power cosmic. Though his abilities range from the rearranging of matter, to even things as broad as time travel, the Silver Surfer traditionally remains content to engage in more brutish, readily produced, energy blast based combat with his foes.

This is something Ronan can handle in kind, and gladly return via his Kree built hammer-like device, the Universal Weapon. It serves the Accuser in much the way Thor's Mjolnir does, equipped to deal massive concussive blows, expel amounts of energy, and return to it's master's hand.

When you boil it all down the scope of the Silver Surfer gives him the statistical edge, but on a platform of this level, you can never definitively rule out a character like Ronan.

The Math: Silver Surfer (Cosmic Class)
The Pick: Silver Surfer

What went down...
Discovering the decapitated remains of The Contemplator, Nova (Frankie Raye) is free to abandon her quest of retrieval for Galactus, and deviate with the Silver Surfer on a more recreational trip before the two part ways.

Leaving behind the smothering space of The Coalsack, they spy a Kree world where the Surfer is worshipped as a Saint, having overlooked the populated world during his tenure as herald of Galactus. When the two arrive for a closer look, their reception is quite to the contrary, as the planet's inhabitants flee into their ruined world, cursing the Silver Surfer.

The two cosmic charged heroes have little time to investigate as Ronan arrives on the scene, accusing the Silver Surfer himself of the wanton destruction bestowed upon the simple inhabitants. Nova and Silver Surfer plead his innocence, but it falls on deaf ears: "Accusation is punishment!"

Ronan freezes Nova in a statis field of absolute zero - indifferent to her as a bystander to the accused Silver Surfer.

He totes the Kree made Universal Weapon as more than a match for the energies bestowed upon Norrin Radd by Galactus. The Silver Surfer is more than willing to test the validity of his claim.

The Surfer's cosmic blast is aimed toward the weapon, but Ronan's Universal Weapon proves mighty enough to create a barrier of energy, protecting he and the hammer-styled weapon from the blast.

The Surfer fires again, this time missing as Ronan propels himself upward to avoid the energy. He continues his aerial acrobatics, fleeing from the board-riding Silver Surfer, who pursues with a double barrled array of cosmic blasts.
Though they do not connect, he is able to dive bomb the Kree Accuser with his board, knocking him off his axis.

Ronan steadies himself, using the opportunity provided by the Surfer's returning arc to power his weapon, and fire a devestating blast that only narrowly misses it's chrome target.

The momentum shifts to the Accuser, as he continues his assault. The energies of his Universal Weapon sweep up the Surfer's counter blast, with energy to spare!

Ronan follows up the failed attack quickly, firing off a blast of energy directly at the Silver Surfer. It does the unthinkable, toppling him from his cosmic-borne surfboard!

With the upperhand becoming his, Ronan the Accuser summons the versatility of his Universal Weapon's energies, using them again for the purposes of containment. Pulling the Silver Surfer from the air, he holds his accused helpless in a bubble of yellow power.

Fortunately for the Silver Surfer, Ronan does not notice the sentient movement of the Silver Surfer's surfboard, as it continues it's flight, swinging around to collide with Ronan from behind!

The blow to the back of the head topples Ronan, and seperates him from his Universal Weapon. Freed from it's energies, the Silver Surfer uses his own power cosmic for containment, encasing Ronan in a field of energy that contains him away from regaining his hammer.

The Silver Surfer frees his ally, Nova, from the field of absolute zero, and commends Ronan and his Kree science. Ronan reminds him of his position as Supreme Accuser, and promises that he will evade his judgment for only so long.

The hammer...
Thus, without any real question, we declare Silver Surfer victorious in spaaaaaaace! As much as I'd love to get Frankie Raye on the ranking list, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to call that one a non-issue.

So, as you might imagine, when we catch-up to the June posts [today being June 2nd] we'll be taking a look at Silver Surfer and the title stars of June 15th's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
As tempting as it was to hone in on the Surfer, we'll be putting each member of the sequel's cast under a spotlight, so I took this opportunity to squeeze in a little extra bit of Surfer -- because you'll only ask for it later!

He hasn't had much of a go on the site here, but it's safe to say I'm as much a fan of the character as even the most uninitiated of you will be after the movie.
It would be safe to say that while Civil War munched up the headlines like Pacman, Marvel's cosmic crossover event - Annihilation - was one of the most pleasantly surprising sleeper hits of 2006!

Not only did Annihilation mark the triumphant return of the Silver Surfer as a starring character, but it also brought characters like Super-Skrull, Nova and even Ronan to the forefront in their own tying mini-series.

We now have the inevitable glut of reprints to expect from Marvel that have accompanied other movie pledges like Sandman, Ghost Rider and Venom, but that's not all! J. Michael Straczynksi has the out-of-continuity mini-series Requiem coming out now, that details a world where the Silver Surfer is dying. A story that isn't going to be for everyone, but is none the less appreciated.

Even efforts such as these outshine the lusterless efforts that have included a sordid effort to relaunch the character with an artist who went MIA after a few issue's worth of work, and the comedic Defenders mini by Giffen and DeMatteis.

While unsuccessful and ultimately not what I would ask for, some of these recent efforts still deserve to be commended. They experiment with the formula that was classically bogged down too deep into being superheroes in space.
One of the attractive qualities of the Silver Surfer character is it's versatility to apply to Earth-bound superheroics, psychadelic space adventures, metaphorical and philosophical commentaries, and Annihilation style space epics.

Space superhero is fun. I think the featured issue of Silver Surfer here is very much in that category, but it was perhaps that limitation that allowed the Surfer to fall into obscurity, and ultimately out-of-print in the very late nineties.
I don't know how anyone else would feel, but I almost want to dub that unacceptable. The Silver Surfer, while not being one of the first-generation Marvel age characters, arguably fits into that class of core characters, along with the likes of the Fantastic Four, Thor, Spider-man and Hulk.

It's probably best not to approach it with such a rigid mandate, but it just seems sad that the character would ever fall out of print.

Anyway, I'm fast losing my point as we once again find ourselves deep into the AM. There'll be plenty of opportunity to talk about the Silver Surfer over the next month, so stay tuned for that. Oh, and call back your armies, DC Nation! There'll be more in what's in store for you in the Punch-Up!

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 4

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