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There's been a bit of sad news lately in the world of comics. The great George Perez has announced that he won't be with us for much longer, due to terminal cancer. I'm very sure that I'm not alone in considering Mr. Perez to be a living legend among modern comic creators. He's regarded by many as one of the greatest modern comic artists, and rightly so.
Judging from the outpouring of fan support and tribute I'm seeing on the internet lately, it's clear that Perez is a man and a talent that will definitely be missed. I would also like to show my appreciation for George Perez by setting aside my originally-planned review for now and taking the time to spotlight some of his work here. . .but with a bit of a Longbox Junk twist!
Most of the tributes I'm seeing focus on Mr. Perez's fantastic art. And why shouldn't they? It's what he's known for. . .fantastic scenes packed SO full of characters and detail that they invite lingering on the page just to take it all in. It's his trademark and what put him on a well-deserved pedestal among the great modern comic artists.
SO. . .
I'm gonna spotlight a comic without ONE SINGLE PANEL of that signature Perez art everyone loves him for! That's right. . .I'm going to take a look at George Perez the comic WRITER in this edition of Longbox Junk!
I want to show another side of this great, multi-talented creator that fans of his art might not be so much aware of by taking a look at a 1996 collaboration between DC and Marvel wherein the two rival companies came together to tell a cosmic tale of titanic trickery across two universes involving two of their mightiest heroes. . .Superman and The Silver Surfer!
Ready? Let's do it!
SILVER SURFER/ SUPERMAN
Marvel/ DC (1996)
Folded out to show the villains on the back side
SCRIPT: George Perez
PENCILS: Ron Lim
INKS: Terry Austin
COVER: Ron Lim & Terry Austin
I'm actually not a huge fan of Superman (or Silver Surfer, for that matter), but just LOOK at that cover! Superman is my favorite part of it! He's a bright image of strength, power, and heroism as he boldly flies across the front of this comic! And then there's the Silver Surfer. . .a gleaming, powerful being capturing the power cosmic as he speeds along the bottom of the page! Such a great cover, giving both heroes a their own chance to shine. Ron Lim knocks it out of the park before we even get to the first page!
We begin our tale with Superman in the skies over Metropolis, enjoying the end of an uneventful patrol of the city. . .
. . .And with the Silver Surfer, exploring the galaxy and being surprised to discover a planet where once there was only a barren asteroid.
WHEN SUDDENLY. . .
Superman finds himself transported in the blink of an eye to what seems to be Krypton! The people seem to be in some sort of panic and Superman is attacked by Kryptonian security forces, who believe the strangely-clad man who just appeared among them is part of an invading force!
Superman tries to fight off the security forces, a bit more of a task than he's used to, with his powers greatly reduced by the Red Kryptonian sun. . .
As Superman tries to escape, the leader of the invading alien force shows himself, a strange, hybrid creature who calls himself "Super Skrull". There are several odd things, such as Super Skrull knowing Superman's Kryptonian name of Kal-El and that the creature speaks English, but Superman doesn't have time to ponder them as the Super Skrull challenges him to one on one combat!
IN THE MEANTIME. . .
The Silver Surfer is surprised to find himself yanked from deep space and onto the planet Earth, where he once made his home. But the city he finds himself in is unfamiliar, and his cosmic powers are somehow going out of his control!
As Silver Surfer tries to regain control of his powers, the citizens of Metropolis panic as they realize they have been somehow cut off from the rest of the world. Lex Luthor's successor, The Contessa, pinpoints the alien Silver Surfer as the cause and is determined to either gain his power for herself, or destroy him. . .
Contessa send robotic minions to take down the Surfer, and as they fight, he realizes he still doesn't have complete control over his powers. Not wanting to harm civilians, Silver Surfer makes a dash for outer space in an attempt to end the fight. . .
. . .But he is confused when he flies past what should be the limits of Earth's atmosphere and he finds that he still isn't in space, but crashes into an invisible barrier!
IN THE MEANTIME. . .
The story shifts back to Superman as he battles The Super Skrull. Weakened by his exposure to Krypton's red sun, Superman finds himself being badly beaten by the alien creature. But Superman isn't one to back down from a fight when innocent lives are at stake, even a losing one!
The Super Skrull offers to lower his defenses and give Superman one good punch. As the alien creature gloats about winning some sort of game, Superman takes the punch, but is thrown back by the Skrull. . .whose body becomes living elastic!
When Superman crashes into a wall and debris showers down on the onlookers, a strange thing happens! Super Skrull begins to rage about how harming innocent bystanders is against the rules, and he uses his elastic body to save them!
Superman realizes that something is definitely wrong. The Kryptonians begin to flicker and change form. Superman now understands that he's been under some sort of mental control and he's not on Krypton at all!
BACK WITH THE SILVER SURFER. . .
After crashing through the invisible barrier above Metropolis, the Surfer is astounded to discover himself standing in a strange place, with a glass-encased miniature city of Metropolis in front of him. A hole in the glass case is where he must have broken his way through. . .
As he ponders the strange scene before him, the Surfer is attacked by the automated defenses of something called "The Fortress". He grabs the bottled city of Metropolis and tries to fight his way out, all the while being taunted by a mysterious voice! As he battles his way through the defenses, he comes to realize that the voice is actually a living being playing a deadly game with him!
BACK WITH SUPERMAN. . .
The illusion of Krypton dispelled, Superman takes on the Super Skrull with his full powers. . .but as they fight, Superman reveals that he knows that he's actually fighting his old foe, Mr. Mxyzptlk! But the joke is on Superman when his opponent instead reveals himself to be a strange little creature calling himself The Impossible Man!
Impossible Man tells Superman that he and Mr. Mxyzptlk met in the space between dimensions and became friends. They agreed to play a game where the two tricksters would swap their greatest adversaries into their own different universes, with the winner being the one who convinced their opponent they were fighting their own enemy first. Superman had believed he was fighting Mr. Mxyzptlk, so Impossible Man declares himself winner!
Now that he understands he's been used as part of an interdimensional game, Superman demands to be returned to his own universe. Impossible Man tells him that won't be possible until a winner has been declared and he combines his powers with Mr. Mxyzptlk to swap Superman and the Silver Surfer back to where they belong.
Impossible Man leaves to inform Mr. Mxyzptlk of his victory, leaving Superman stranded on the strange planet. Shortly afterward, Superman is horrified to discover an ACTUAL Skrull invasion force on its way!
When Impossible Man teleports to Superman's universe, he discovers an enraged Silver Surfer protecting Metropolis from Mr. Mxyzptlk. As he declares himself the winner of their game, Impossible Man realizes that Mr. Mxyzptlk has broken the rules by putting innocent lives in danger. As Mxyzptlk mocks Impossible Man for being so easily tricked, he flies into a rage and the two begin to fight!
The two tricksters battle, quickly shifting in and out of the forms of their respective universe's greatest heroes. . .Hulk vs. Doomsday, Plastic Man vs. Super Skrull, Wonder Woman vs. Wolverine, Giant Man vs. The Atom, Cyclops vs. Batman, Spider-Man vs. Mister Miracle, Namor vs. Aquaman, and finally Lobo vs. Galactus!
The battle finally ends when Silver Surfer steps in and uses his powers, demanding that the game be ended and he and Superman be switched back to their own universe. Impossible Man brings Superman to the Fortress of Solitude so that he can testify Impossible Man won the game, forcing Mr. Mxyzptlk to concede. . .
With all four of the players now in the same space and the game ended, Superman and Silver Surfer agree to help Impossible Man and Mr. Mxyzptlk clean up their mess by taking care of the Skrull invaders and putting Metropolis back where it belongs. . .while the two tricksters agree to send Superman and Silver Surfer back to where they belong.
And so, working together, Metropolis is returned to its normal place. . .
. . .And the Skrull invasion force is sent into retreat.
At the end of it all, Superman and Silver Surfer have a moment between themselves to reflect on the strange adventure. They part as friends and hope to meet again, but have been told by Impossible Man and Mr. Mxyzptlk that their memories of this encounter will soon disappear completely.
Okay, there it is. Superman and Silver Surfer being used as pawns in a game between two interdimensional tricksters. Let's break it on down!
I'm gonna be totally honest and up front here. I intended this review as a tribute to the great George Perez with a bit of a Longbox Junk twist, and the takeaway here is that Perez is known as one of the greatest comic artists and not as one of the great comic writers for a reason.
Hold on! Don't get me wrong here! I'm not saying his writing is bad at all. I'm just saying that there's a reason he's better known as a legendary artist. This is actually a really fun story!
I love a good "one and done" comic story and this one definitely fits the bill. It's not deep. It's not particularly memorable. The status quo (at the time) of the two heroes doesn't budge an inch. It just tells a fun tale of two heroes being caught up in a strange game.
The way that Perez gets Superman and Silver Surfer into each others' universes IS a bit convoluted, and I feel that there must have been a more straightforward story to be told on that end, but other than that, this is just a colorful, action-packed, FUN comic! And really. . .when it comes down to it, isn't being fun sometimes enough reason to like a comic book? In my humble opinion, I say YES!
So George Perez does a decent job writing this thing, let's take a look at the art.
So, Ron Lim has a mighty hard row to hoe being the artist on a comic where George Perez is involved. Let's face it, when most people see Perez's name on the cover of a comic, they're gonna assume he's got something to do with the art. Nope. . .not here.
Fortunately, Lim steps up to the plate with confidence and knocks it right out of the park! This comic is simply gorgeous to look at! Lim has a simple, classic style with nice clean lines and a great touch on facial expressions that brings a lot of character to this comic.
There are plenty of little "wow!" moments to be found here. . .Just scroll up and look at some of the pages I scanned to see a few. My favorites mostly revolve around the Silver Surfer. His introduction to the story, flying through the stars right into the readers face is simply fantastic!
George Perez the writer isn't quite on the same level as George Perez the artist, but overall, this is a comic that is so much fun to read that I don't even care. The story is fun, the art is fun, this is just a FUN comic from cover to cover!
Sometimes we get so caught up in the dramatic stories of our four-color heroes. . .their loves, their losses, their titanic conflicts, their inner angst. . .that we forget that comics can be FUN. This story is a perfect breath of fresh air. A nice little break.
Is it the best story ever written? No. Not even close. But is it FUN? Yes. And for that, I give George Perez credit where credit is due. He may be known more as an artist, and he's definitely going to be remembered that way by most comic fans, but he can sure write a fun story when he wants to!
All in all, I found this one shot story to be a nugget of Longbox Junk gold. Check it out if you just want to read a fun little story that shows a different side of superstar artist George Perez. And not for nothin' but let's not forget page after page of some very nice art by Ron Lim. It's just a really good comic from end to end.
Up Next. . .
The review I ORIGINALLY had planned.
A four-issue series that ponders the following question: What if legendary martial artist Bruce Lee didn't actually die, but was frozen in suspended animation and revived today? Join me next time and we'll find out!
It's Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises from Magnetic Press (Yeah, I've never heard of them either)
Be there or be square!