There is something very exciting and enjoyable about watching two characters adventuring to new planets and meeting new species. One an all-powerful alien, who takes on a human assistant that becomes his conscious and heart throughout his travels. It’s a beautiful story and is the fundamental premise of the television show Doctor Who, the long running BBC science fiction serial. I have never read a Doctor Who comic but I imagine at their best, they will only just match up to the wonders created by Slott and Allred. Both artists have the ability to bring a light touch of humour and affection to all books they create. Whether it be Slott’s subtle reflections of kindness or Allred’s sweet innocence portrayed through his central characters. It is a perfect pairing for such a comic as this and one that has taken Norrin Radd from being the callous avatar of Galactus to a kinder spirit, with the help of Dawn Greenwood, the most important woman in the universe.
The opening pages are a wonderful summary of the relationship described above. Surfer is imbued with the power cosmic has no need to daily human sustenance and is travelling across the universe on his board, only to be pestered by Dawn who suffers the basic human needs of three square meals and restroom visits. She is so endearing as she taps him on the shoulder, knowing she is causing irritation but her requests are far from precious. Allred’s work, though from the outset may appear a little cartoonlike, is fantastically adept at conveying emotion. These opening pages show Surfer’s surprise, dismay and also a little fear, which is quite the achievement given his eyes are coloured pure white. Greenwood on the other hand has a gorgeous aesthetic with her blue hair and ladybird dress, but it is her facial that tell the tale. Not only are her eyes coloured a bright green but the shape varies so much that we can easily appreciate her anxiety, delight, and anger. As Norrin decides to magically remove her tonsils to cure her sore throat, Dawn’s riposte of annoyance that he failed to ask permission and removed her right to have ice cream (a common association for children who have a tonsillectomy) is delightfully conveyed. It is these human traits that Norrin struggles to understand and he is slowly learning from Dawn. Being gifted by the power cosmic does not give you the right to automatically do what you think is best. This is the foundation of a friendship that will slowly develop and be tested more significantly than the nutritional habits of humankind, but nonetheless is a great example.
The story itself is quite a novel idea and one that could have easily featured in any of the classic sci-fi shows of the decades. It is these classic premises that keeps the reader in awe and wonder with this trope, and I am glad to see imaginations still running wild. Planet Prime serves the best ice cream in the universe but also strives to achieve perfection in all it does. Every single craft and discipline is mastered by a single individual, a number one builder, accountant or even street dancer. It is limited society because the reserves to the number ones wait for a chance to become the top dog. It is a very strange idea to forsake the weaker members of society in order to reach perfection. In a small city I guess it is possible to only require a single person for each role, but it is quite abhorrent to devalue all others and reject alternate opinions. With such a strict society any variance is seen as a crime, so when Surfer transmutes ice cream to Rigellian gold, he disrupts economic stability and is pursued by, yes you guessed it, soldier number one. This leads into a fight scene which great diagonal panelling effects that convey the battle. Laura and Michael Allred’s use of landscape and colour bringing variety into the backgrounds prevent it from being a regular punch for punch tussle. The crushing effects of the warrior’s power is nicely contrasted with the yellow energy explosions of the power cosmic.
As you would expect in these situations it is down to Dawn to find a simple but effective solution, not only saving the day but also highlighting the inadequacies of perfection. She sits at ground level and talks to the other members of the city, including the number 2 soldier and repairman. Her ability to empathise and understand people is where she derives the idea that will save the day. It is a lovely dichotomy where the cosmically strong hero is busy fighting a seemingly impossible battle, and the non-powered assistant takes a humanistic approach and diplomatically ends the confrontation. The balance between the protagonists is the key to this comic, because these juxtaposing viewpoints make sense of the world’s they explore. It is a fantastic setup with two creators that have a firm grasp upon human nature and emotional lability, that will take us on adventures full of puzzles and conundrums. As expected Norrin and Dawn will alway get into trouble, or be found by it and the solutions take less brawn and a little bit of understanding, before the universe is destroyed forever.
“Some moments are better than perfect”