Silver Surfer: Ghost Light #1

Written by John Jennings
Drawn by Valentine De Landro
Published by Marvel Comics

Since February is Black History Month, it’s a bit fitting that I’m starting with a review of this comic book that just came out, because it’s written by a Black writer. John Jennings is someone I’ve known via the internet since at least 2010 (when we became friends on Facebook), but it may have been earlier than that (I think I knew him from some message board). Anyway, he’s written this new 5-issue miniseries starring the Silver Surfer, which is a great accomplishment, so I eagerly bought this first issue.

And, I really really really wish I could say that I enjoyed it.

Normally, in a situation like this, I just wouldn’t bother writing a review, but I’d already decided to, and I spent $4.99 (which is ridiculous that I had to pay that for a digital version), so I’m not going to let it go to waste. Here’s my fair and balanced take (keeping it as spoiler-free as possible).

Basically, this issue exemplifies the main thing I hate about modern-day comic-book writing, which is decompression. The story is dragged out, it’s almost all “talking heads,” and I feel like it could have been cut in half to at least get to the star character faster. That’s another thing, call me crazy but if I buy a comic book credited to a certain character, I expect to get a story where that character is front and center. But for the first issue of this Silver Surfer miniseries the Silver Surfer appears in it…twice.

That’s right, two pages. The first of which is page #22 of this 32-page story, and then again on the final page.

I’ll admit I didn’t know anything about this series beforehand, I only just heard about it a few days ago when I saw John post about it on Facebook, I hadn’t read any ads or promo material, but when you have a character like the Silver Surfer, an insanely powerful cosmic character, and there’s a tagline on the cover declaring this the start of a “next great super-hero saga”, I was anticipating something epic. Maybe a grand space opera story, something with alien races and strange new worlds, etc. Something where the stakes are galactic in scale.

Instead, I got a story about some random Black teenage girl, set entirely in a rural town in upstate New York.

Our lead character is a girl named Toni, she’s from Bed-Stuy, but her family, which includes her parents, her grandmother, and her younger brother Josh, had recently moved to a little town called Sweetwater, NY. This is because her uncle, who’s been missing for over a decade has been finally legally declared dead, and he left his house to her parents, so they moved there. But Toni is bored and misses all her friends. And there are lots of conversations between Toni and her various family members about this new life they’re all starting. If several pages of a married couple discussing their children while driving sounds exciting to you, you’re going to love this.

And we learn that for the past few days, Toni has been having recurring dreams of being called out to the woods where she meets some mysterious man in a flash of light.

Josh, who is given the characteristic of being a huge fan of and historical expert about old jazz musicians like John Coltrane (y’know, like a typical teenage boy), did some internet sleuthing and discovered that Sweetheart has a mysterious event in its history, which I guess is supposed to be intriguing, but I just didn’t care. And the two kids do some investigating to find out what happened to this missing-and-presumed-dead uncle, which leads to them encountering the Silver Surfer in the end for the big cliffhanger.

For a first issue, especially the first issue of a miniseries, this is a failure. I don’t know what’s going on, and I wasn’t hooked enough to want to keep reading the series to find out. Even the artwork is just bland, not that the artist was given much to work with. I think “Ghost Light” is supposed to be the name of this new character that we see Silver Surfer holding the cover, and while I do like the idea of more Black superheroes being introduced to the Marvel Universe, this is not the way to do it.

Silver Surfer: Ghost Light #1

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