On the way back into the city from visiting family for Thanksgiving, I decided to pay my respects to the late, great Stan Lee by finally flipping through Silver Surfer: Parable, which the legendary Marvel scribe allegedly considered to be his masterpiece (according to most sources, anyway).
It’s certainly an intelligently written comic book, more meditative and philosophical than typical superhero fare. Lee famously tried to keep his work somewhat apolitical, but here, he tackles real world themes both timely and timeless, from the peril of self-serving religious leaders to the conflict between blind faith and reason. In the opening pages, the planet-devouring cosmic entity known as Galactus arrives on Earth and declares himself supreme deity, knowing that the ensuing mania will send mankind into a self-destructive downward spiral, allowing him to feast on the scraps without incurring the wrath of the meta-human community. The Surfer, who has long since grown disillusioned with society’s cruelty, ignorance, and avarice, must overcome his own apathy in order to defeat his former master—not through brute force, but by breaking his sway over his newfound followers.
Ol’ Smilin’ Stan’s prose is as purple as ever, and the cartoonish characterization of the supporting players comes off as cheesy and outdated even by ‘80s standards… and yet all of it feels perfectly appropriate, given the grandiose tone of the piece. After all, the Surfer is a Messianic figure fighting to save the soul of an ungrateful humanity—doesn’t such a Biblical premise deserve an equally Biblical execution?
[Originally written November 23, 2018.]