Let’s remember what we know about Silver Surfer so far. He’s a cosmic powered alien who is imprisoned on Earth against his weill. He’s madly in love with a woman on the other side of the universe. Mephisto, the devil incarnate, not only fears him but wants to control his power. So in these two issues Mephisto uses Shall Bal as incentive to coerce the Silver Surfer into destroying S.H.I.E.L.D.
Yes you read that. The maniacal lord of the underworld wants the paramilitary organization taken out, most likely to make it easier for him to take over the world at some point. To get this done, he promises Silver Surfer he won’t eternally damn Shalla Bal in exchange for the Surfer destroying S.H.I.E.L.D. The best part of this is that Mephisto is lurking around in a trench coat and fedora looking completely ridiculous.
Anyway Surfer begrudgingly accepts and attacks S.H.I.E.L.D. I get the point and all, but it’s so odd to see a story that involves the Silver Surfer, Mephisto and Nick Fury. Eventually Surfer finds out that Mephisto plans on going back on his word and the two wind up fighting. It’s revealed that the Silver Surfer is indeed much more powerful than anyone ever imagined and after thoroughly beating up poor Mephisto, he gets jettisoned into space. And for those wondering, Shalla Bal winds up alright, as since both Mephisto and Silver Surfer reneged on their deals it pretty much cancels everything.
These issues were John Buscema’s last work on the series, and he certainly stepped up his art a lot. I think that from an artistic perspective, they might have been my favorite issues of the series. Stan Lee sticks around for the next issue and is joined by a certain king of an artist.
Silver Surfer #8-9 brigs the legend of the tormented soul of the Flying Dutchman into the Marvel Universe via the evil machinations of Mephisto. And boy, didn’t that last sentence sound like something Stan Lee would have written.
At this point, Mephisto is pretty much Silver Surfer’s recurring arch nemesis. The demon lord fears the Surfer and is trying to find a way to stop him. The latest involves finding the evil spirit of the old Dutch pirate Joost van Straaten and empowering him into his new “Flying Dutchman” state. And by that, Mephisto made him into a cyborg looking a lot like Deathlok. He also has these really lame looking grappling hooks for hands.
Any way they fight back and forth until the Silver Surfer is finally able to defeat the Dutchman. There’s a few really cool panels where Mephisto is getting involved unbeknownst to either the Surfer or Dutchman, but to no avail. The end of the story has the Surfer showing remorse for the Dutchman, who only teamed up with Mephisto in an attempt to free his soul. Silver’s empathy is enough to void the Dutchman’s deal and freeing him.
This wasn’t the best of Lee and Buscema’s work on this title, but the story worked. They all can’t be classics I guess.
In Silver Surfer #3, the Silver Surfer bought a toothbrush, some toothpaste and a flannel for his face. No, those are the lyrics to that Squeeze song.
This tale from Stan Lee and John Buscema is all about making a deal with the devil. And in this case, Mephisto. The demonic lord of Marvel’s underworld makes his debut in this issue and does everything but formally say that he is the devil or Satan himself. Being that the Comics Code Authority was still in effect during this era, I’m assuming that might have had something to do with it.
With a theme of power and control permeating the story, Mephisto is introduced as being someone who has a keen interest in the Silver Surfer. His altruism–not to mention cosmic power–is seen as a threat to Mephisto.
Being that he is an all-knowing demon, Mephisto tries to tempt the Silver Surfer with the one thing he loves most in the universe: Shalla Bal. After attempting several other ways to trick (and in some cases, physical violence) the Surfer into submission, Mephisto gives one final offer of Shalla Bal in exchange of assistance (or at the very least, the allowance) of him collecting and corrupting souls throughout the universe.
Before the Silver Surfer can announce his decision, Shall Bal interrupts and pleads to not accept the offer. Their love isn’t worth the damnation of millions. Silver Surfer agrees that the good of the universe far supersedes their own love and rejects the Faustian deal. And the issue ends with Shalla Bal back on Zenn-La and the Surfer alone and still trapped on earth.
The story is pretty powerful and really is a morality play with Surfer having the weight of the universe on his chrome shoulders. Ultimately his (and Shalla’s) decision makes perfect sense. Sometimes making the right decision isn’t necessarily the best personal decision.
Amazing Spider-Man #698 came out today, and it is definitely one of those issues that was designed to be a big deal. So what’s so special about this? Peter Parker dies.
Completely simplifying it, an ailing Doctor Octopus was able to switch bodies with Spider-Man. The eight-limbed villain switched bodies with Spider-Man, leaving poor Peter to die in his old body. Octopus gets to live on, having assumed Peter’s identity and life.
Amazing Spider-Man is getting re-launched as Superior Spider-Man in January, so I’m sure this storyline will have some sort of temporary resolution, with the long-term leading to Peter Parker returning to his status quo of being Spider-Man and you know, being alive.
So how does Spidey come back?
Someone, say Mary Jane or even Aunt May could make some sort of deal with Mephisto to restore the status quo. This would be a bookend of sorts to the One More Day storyline where Mary Jane made a deal with the devil to save Aunt May’s live in exchange for her relationship with Peter to have never existed. Is it possible that Mephisto would offer someone else a similar deal to save Peter’s life?
Spider-Man also has an outstanding favor due to him from Loki. In Amazing Spider-Man #503-504, the trickster god needed the assistance of Spidey in saving his mortal daughter. Even though Spider-Man is technically dead at this point, Loki could decide to do him a solid and return him rightfully back to the land in the living. I am not sure if this is possible, since Loki himself was reborn as a teenager, but it’s a debt he owes nevertheless.
Regardless of how they bring Peter back, it has to be well executed and I have good faith in writer Dan Slott being able to pull it off.