Sometimes a series is too good to keep down. While sales for the issues collected in the previous volume indicated that would be last we saw of the Dan Slott/Mike Allred run on this title, Marvel decided to give it another go in the wake of “Secret Wars.” This is without a doubt a good thing. The only catch is that vol. 4 isn’t quite up to the high standards of vol. 3. Not only did that volume feature a well-done tie-in to “Secret Wars” and an imaginative take on a familiar sci-fi genre trope, it also had a fantastically imaginative “Groundhog Day”-esque time-travel story that utilized the comics form in a masterful way. There’s nothing on that level here as the Surfer and Dawn return to Earth only to be confronted with the legacy of the former’s home planet. Zenn-La’s Keeper of the Great Truth has shown up on our doorstep with the intent of improving it by converting our culture to theirs. Naturally the Surfer is against this, but how can he fight against his own people? Especially once he finds out who the current Keeper of the Great Truth actually is.
The Surfer makes an unexpectedly harsh choice in order to see that Earth’s culture is preserved, but that’s really the only surprise of the main arc in this volume. It’s mostly just a lot of fighting as he takes on the Thing along with a whole bunch of other Marvel heroes (who go on to help him out afterwards after the Zenn-La-vians try to get some payback). That’s not as bad a thing as it sounds since it not only gives Allred a chance to show off his chops for action, but to draw a ton of current and classic Marvel characters in his inimitable style. Slott also manages to invest this volume with some real heart and drama in the last two issues as the Surfer finds a way to have Dawn meet up with the one person she never thought she’d see again. To decidedly complicated but believable results. That this story also has the Surfer teaming up with Spider-Man to take on some shape-shifting creatures (which gives Spidey the chance to punch out Mephisto for… past indiscretions) really sums up the series’ quirky appeal. “Silver Surfer’s” mix of action and sentimentality may not work as well here as it has in previous volumes, yet it still results in an entertaining package that I’m glad to see continue.