Marvel have a tendency to just release random trades in hardback these days, which is kind of annoying as it devalues those that are actually worthy of the format. Silver Surfer Requiem is one of the rare ones that actually deserves it. Esad Ribic’s fully painted artwork is breathtaking – some of the best I’ve ever seen in a comic book. You could print it on sheets of platinum with gold weave binding and it’d still not do it justice.
But what about the story? Well, J. Michael Straczynski pens the script and it’s almost parodically typical of his style. He doesn’t so much tug the heartstrings as wrench them out, tie one end round a lamp post, tie the other round his exhaust and then drive off at 100mph leaving them to snap and bleed all over the freeway. It’s either poignant or exhausting, depending on how receptive you’re feeling to his emotional manipulation.
Requiem is a story outside of any known continuity that tells of the Silver Surfer’s death through terminal illness. That’s pretty much all you get for plot; it’s really a meditation on loss, regret and the grieving process. I’ll admit there are some beautifully written passages and a life-affirming message about living life to the full but you are left kind of wondering what inspired Straczynski to write such an epic slice of gloom. I mean, do we really need a four-part mini-series about a much-loved character dying, outside of any known continuity? And is there any way – short of utter clumsiness – that you could NOT get a moving story from that? Isn’t it, well, a little too easy?
I’d say yes, but again I’m going to return to Esad Ribic’s artwork. This is what turns the maudlin into the magnificent. He says more with just one of Norin Radd’s facial expressions than Straczynski manages with all his prose and makes the whole bizarre tale feel so much more ‘real’ and passionate. I have to admit, even I felt a little lump in my throat by the end.
If I sit and think, I’m still boggled as to who greenlighted the project (or why it was conceived) but it’s a solid and absorbing read in itself and just so beautiful to look at, you should buy it for the visuals alone. This review probably sounds a bit confused but it’s an odd one to rate. When you read it, you know all too well that you’re being manipulated but damn, they do it with style.