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Marvel Graphic Novel #71: Review

Nov 1991
Jim Starlin, Bill Reinhold

Story Name:

Silver Surfer: Homecoming

Review & Comments

4 stars

Marvel Graphic Novel #71 Review by (February 4, 2022)
Ray Murtaugh, Alex Waid and Holly Blessen helped with the colouring. Bill Reinhold painted the cover.

This issue says that Surfer spent 100 years as Galactus' Herald.

Moondragon is here between Warlock & Infinity Watch #13 and #14.

Since Infinity War Silver Surfer lived through the Return Of The Defenders event in his Annual #5 and related annuals of Dr Strange, Hulk and Sub-Mariner. Then he popped in to Marvel UK's Warheads #7-8 before returning to his own series for #70-75, the Herald Ordeal, in which Nova rebelled against Galactus and was replaced as Herald by the vicious Morg. A coalition of previous Heralds defeated Morg. And Nebula became a cyborg.

After her origin with Norrin Radd (recounted in SS v1#1) Shalla Bal spent time in that series and Fantastic Four #155-157 as a pawn of Mephisto and Dr Doom. Meanwhile Galactus got revenge for Surfer's betrayal by reducing Zenn-La to a wasteland but not killing the people. In his 1982 1-shot SS temporarily escaped from Earth to return Shalla to their planet and give her part of his Power Cosmic which enabled her to make the world bloom again and become its Empress. Her duties then kept the couple apart in Surfer's current series.

Shalla Bal will soon be rescued (from Mephisto again) in the Silver Surfer & Warlock: Resurrection mini-series (also by Jim Starlin). But before that SS will continue his series with #76-82 featuring Jack Of Hearts, the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, the various Heralds and the rise of a new villain Tyrant.

However #130-131 will reveal that the Shalla Bal we've been seeing is a fake. A being called the Other destroyed Zenn-La while Surfer was Galactus' Herald and Big G constructed a fake version of the planet and all its inhabitants. Given that the 2016 SS series is in the post-Secret Wars remade universe I don't know whether the Shalla Bal there is supposed to be the fake construct or the real thing.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Marvel Graphic Novel #71 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Silver Surfer is wandering through space on his Cosmic Surfboard when he gets a brief mental distress call from Shalla Bal, his ex-lover and now Empress of his homeworld Zenn-La. He races there at his top speed (which his presumably Warp Factor something or other) and gets there 2 days later. A female in a spaceship watches him approach and gets her ship's computer to give her (and us) a potted bio:-

Norrin Radd agreed to become Herald Of Galactus to save Zenn-La from Big G's appetite. Galactus transformed him into the Surfer and gave him the surfboard and the Power Cosmic. In return SS searched out suitable planets for G to consume. (As revealed in SS v1#1.) A century later he rebelled to help save Earth from his master, and Surfer was left trapped on the planet (Fantastic Four #48-50). He later escaped (SS(1987)#1) and since then has roamed space involving himself with things like a Kree/Srull War (not the 1 back in Avengers #89-97) and the recent Thanos events.

Now Norrin arrives home to find his planet gone and only a scientific research satellite remaining. The scientists tell him that the planet just disappeared, and a giant brain, apparently with eyes, appeared temporarily in its place. Then the mystery female joins them. It's Moondragon who Surfer knows is a member of the Infinity Watch personally guarding the Mind Gem. She tells him that the planet has been abducted by a psychic entity. SS can detect no physical trail but MD says she can follow him mentally. So they fly off on Surfer's Board and Moondragon guides him to their quarry. Then SS abandons her on an asteroid and goes to confront the huge (but still sub-planet-size) brain alone.

Norrin Radd demands and threatens but the brain, seemingly with eyes closed, ignores him. So Surfer tries a low-power blast which is repulsed by a forcefield. He ups his output but to no avail and returns to Moondragon who has been scanning the foe from the lotus position. She claims that the forcefield is an automatic defence and the brain hasn't even noticed him. It's in a deep alpha rhythm dream state in which it has also been ignoring her attempts at telepathic communication. Zenn-La has been disassembled and now exists as a dream-thought within the entity's mind. Moondragon persuades Norrin to let her project his psyche into the dream-universe.

After some disoriention the Surfer finds himself amongst a collection of worlds the entity has gathered, and quickly locates Zenn-La and Shalla Bal. After a passionate reunion she explains how the Great One appeared to the Zenn-Lavians (as a large brain) and told them that he had removed them from their perilous position between the Kree and Skrull empires. They could stay safely here within him but only if they wish it. They took a vote and almost unanimously agreed to accept his offer. Shalla also tells him that as thought patterns they are now ageless and immortal.

She also points out that previously it was only Surfer's power that kept the Kree and Skrulls at bay. But also for diplomatic reasons he had to stay away from Zenn-La while she remained as its Empress. However now if he stays too then nothing can keep them apart. And their passionate reunion intensifies. Later Norrin mentally contacts Moondragon to check that he *can* actually stay within the entity, and she agrees to leave the asteroid with his body on within the entity's gravitational pull. So Surfer agrees to stay.

We see a montage of happy moments for the couple. Then as they sit beside a woodland pool Silver Surfer experiments and discovers that here he can will himself back to his Norrin Radd form, and so their happiness is complete.

But then all the Zenn-Lavians sense that the Great One is coming to pay them a visit. But Norrin finds that he doesn't feel it. A banquet is prepared and the Great One manifests as an oversize Zenn-Lavian. Everything's going swimmingly until Shalla Ball introduces Norrin Radd to him. It is only then that the Great One notices this invader from outside. He grows bigger and attacks Norrin who shifts back to Silver Surfer in defence.

To protect Zenn-La Surfer takes the fight into space. Ignoring Shalla's pleas that Norrin is not a threat the Great One follows him and they battle. SS tries to find out what angers the other, but the GO won't talk to him except to threaten him. Surfer fights back defensively but during their battle a moon or 2 are destroyed. And then the Great One seems to have a heart attack and falls back to Zenn-La.

Surfer follows him, still asking the dying god why he attacked. He replies that this 'universe' is his mind, and that moon SS destroyed was part of it. Only an outsider could wreak such destruction and that is killing him. Norrin says that if this had been explained he would have allowed the Great One to assimilate him as he did the others. And if that wasn't possible he would have left for Zenn-La's sake. The god admits that he just panicked in fright.

SS takes the GO to the Zenn-Lavians for medical help but it's useless, even though he's still breathing and his heart's beating he's in a coma. Then Moondragon beams in telepathically to tell them that when he dies this 'universe' and everyone in it will die too. But she has a plan to get all the planets and their inhabitants back to their original places in reality using the power of the comatose mind itself. She and SS will need to work from the physical universe, but Moondragon needs a conscious mind to stay inside the Great One to act as a conduit to link her to it. Over Norrin's objections Shalla volunteers. Moondragon points out that Shalla Bal need only stay until all the planets have been moved out. Then she can send Surfer in to retrieve his love. But in the meantime Moondragon encloses her in a protective sphere.

Moondragon extracts Silver Surfer back to his body. They and the giant brain are orbiting a red giant star. She wants SS to absorb power from the star and fire it into the Mind Gem on her forehead. She shrugs off the possibility of brain damage and gets him to feed more and more power into her mind so that she can contact and take over the Great One. At last at the limit of her endurance she succeeds and the planets are expelled all back to their own orbits.

Somehow the duo are transported to Zenn-La back by its own sun. Heather Douglas has a mighty headache but she summons enough power to send Surfer back into the brainiverse. He finds the black space dissolving into whiteness. But he's materialised next to the protective sphere. Moondragon telepathically tells him to reach in and pull Shalla out. He sticks his head and arm in and the lovers stretch to touch fingers. But just then the Great One's heart fails and the 'universe' goes completely white.

Surfer is back in reality without Shalla Bal. Moondragon had just managed to pull him out without her. As Norrin Radd sinks in grief the Zenn-Lavians rush up and accuse him of killing the Great One and their Empress, and destroying their utopia. SS flees from the angry mob on his board. Moondragon berates them for ingratitude. It was the Great One's unfounded fear that caused the disaster. And Surfer saved them all from extinction but lost his love in the process.

Bill Reinhold
Bill Reinhold
Linda Lessmann
Bill Reinhold (Cover Penciler)
Bill Reinhold (Cover Inker)
Bill Reinhold (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Willie Schubert.
Editor: Craig Anderson. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


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