Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Enter--The Master Of Guile!

When we last left the Silver Surfer, in the retelling of the story of his arrival on the planet Earth from the 1978 Lee/Kirby graphic novel, Galactus had refused the Surfer's plea to spare our world and instead exiled him here as punishment for his defiance. When he regains consciousness, and Galactus having departed, the Surfer has no choice but to make the best of the situation and begin to explore the race of people that he will now spend his life with. At first, he does so by assuming human form--which lasts all of a few hours, when an encounter with a surly group of muggers has him dropping his guise and deciding for better or worse to face his fate here as himself. And so he takes flight, to wander the world and get his bearings.

And when we last left Galactus? He was ready to feed on our planet's life energy; but, in deciding to appease the Surfer, he immediately seeks out a dying planet and takes sustenance from its release of energy. And in doing so, he once more reflects on his unique fate.

Now sated, Galactus' thoughts return to the Surfer--and, with none to take counsel with, he materializes a part of himself he refers to as his Master of Guile:

In a way, we're looking at Galactus getting around his own dispassionate nature by his giving form and voice to the thoughts and desires that he keeps tightly suppressed, as a kind of "third party" which he can objectively converse with but banish again at will. Cold acknowledgment that what he sees is a part of him, yet something to be criticized and reprimanded when it's "let out" in person to speak its mind--no doubt providing a very satisfying illusion of control over something within him that's quite contemptible.

During this conversation, Galactus seems to be bottom-lining his course of action as the ends justifying the means, as this "entity" provides him with something of a plan to regain the services of his herald:

And so, shortly afterward, when the Surfer at last returns from his extensive observations while soaring around the world, he begins to sense a compelling presence. And a new creation of Galactus stands revealed:

Now that's what you call an entrance.
How many people do you know who can provide their own halo?

As these introductions are made, it's clear that, where the passions of the Surfer are concerned, Ardina knows her business--as well as her mission, to lure the Surfer back into the fold by offering him companionship in a life with Galactus. And Ardina's seduction indeed moves the Surfer--so much so that, after a time, Ardina feels confident enough to close the deal:

Now that the Surfer has shaken off the deception, Ardina has no choice but to quickly change tactics if she hopes to succeed. And given the nature of humanity, she may have all the tools needed to convince him readily at hand.

Having honed his technique of listing the faults of humanity in the Surfer's own series, writer Stan Lee is certainly proficient by now at making a strong case for the Surfer abandoning the human race. Sheesh, after Ardina's little cosmic Power Point presentation, I feel a little bit myself like hopping on that surfboard and heading to the stars. But the Surfer nevertheless felt something in our species that gave him the will to defy his master in order to save us, and Ardina's harsh words only serve to strengthen his resolve and prove her wrong.

As for Ardina, she has every intention of staying the course, and providing the Surfer a different perspective to whatever justification he might offer for continuing to align himself with the human race.

But there is another party who has an interest in the outcome--Galactus, who makes deadly preparations for his own course of action should Ardina fail.

Yet, again, the Master of Guile appears, as if Galactus seeks his own justification for his actions toward the Surfer. Their conversation is again riveting, though it's disturbing indeed to see that such maliciousness--and mercilessness--reside in a being who would claim otherwise.

With his dismissal of the Master of Guile, Galactus has made his choice as far as dealing with the Surfer, effectively facing down the worst parts of himself that would most likely have brought disaster to both the planet Earth as well as his desire to have the Surfer rejoin him. In his reflections, he seems to feel admiration for his former herald, as well as the choice he's made.

And so the stage is set for this drama to continue to unfold. Next time, we'll see how the Surfer fares at his attempts to connect more deeply with humanity, as well as the further involvement of Ardina in his perceptions as well as his heart--all leading to a final confrontation with Galactus which will decide the Surfer's fate, forever.

The Silver Surfer (Graphic Novel)

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Joe Sinnott
Letterer: John Costanza

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