Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Cool Comic o' the Week: Silver Surfer # 5

One of the definitions of "cool comic" lately has been the Silver Surfer reboot.  You can check out my little essay at ReadWave about how Marvel's getting away with murder, specific to the strategic polka dots on Dawn Greenwood's dress in this series.  That's one element to this series' coolness.  The abstracting of Silver Surfer in comparison to his wondrous environs is another.  The frequent Silver and Bronze Age-replicated artwork is yet another.

The biggest appeal for me about the new Silver Surfer series is its sense of shtick and mod.  You can take a gander at the cover of Issue # 5 and predict it's a teaser only, but not too much of a cheat--unlike, say, The Spectacular Spiderman # 168 from 1990 and its fake promise of a scrap between the Webhead and She-Hulk.  Do The Hulk and Silver Surfer trade fisticuffs here?  It's definitely set up that way and I'll leave you find out the answer.

What's fun about this issue is that Norrin Radd, i.e. the Silver Surfer, is trapped on Earth due to his unlikely alliance (and perhaps future love interest) with human Dawn Greenwood.  After all, Greenwood is considered "The Most Important Person in the Universe."  Dawn once made a wish upon a shooting star as a child, which was established in the previous issue to be the Surfer himself way-back-when.  Now forming a chemical bond together, this story focuses on Infinity haunt, Nightmare, who is unwittingly about to plunder the Earth into perpetual dreamscape due a special lunar alignment.

There's no irony lost that Dawn Greenwood's name is Dawn (nor for that matter, her twin sister being named Eve) as she plays a pivotal role in preventing the Earth from becoming a somnambulist hellhole.  With she being the last waking being on the planet, it's up to Silver Surfer, along with the astral form of Dr. Strange and the Hulk to keep her from falling asleep.  A mite reminiscent of Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3, these dream warriors fend off Nightmare's monster squad while the Surfer and Hulk are forced to put their differences aside.  No matter the fact they're Defenders teammates, of course.

The resolution to this story is a bit silly but it feels like classic Marvel and that's why it's cool.  As we look forward to Norrin Radd having his innocuous, polka-breasted companion along for the ride upon his celestial surfboard, the Earth sky is hardly his limit now.  Dan Slott and Michael Allred have thus far woven a left-of-center, frequently amusing sojourn through the stars that's much lighter in fare than Silver Surfer's past.  This time, Radd is allowed to bleed a little more emotion into his often deadpan seriousness, and having an Earth girl to hang ten with should reveal even more depth, hopefully with continued comedic effects.

Listenin' to:  Goblin - Zombi (aka Dawn of the Dead 1978) soundtrack

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