Surfer finds himself dreaming that he's in the halls of Death, creepily constructed by Lim out of screaming souls. However, what Surfer is experiencing is less like a dream and more of an out-of-body experience as he witnesses the return of Thanos, now tasked by his cosmic crush with wiping out half the life in the galaxy. The Mad Titan outwits the Surfer rather easily. Remarkably, this stretches for five issues despite not much happening. There's an appearance by the Impossible Man and the return of Drax the Destroyer (There's an... interesting conclusion to Surfer's dealings with Drax,) as Thanos becomes more of a topic of conversation than the actual villain. That said, the five issues included here fly by, look beautiful and are well-representative of Starlin's ability to combine the wondrous with the unsettling.
Still, the events in "Silver Surfer" are just a prelude to another prelude as this set includes "The Thanos Quest" in its entirety. Thanos deduces that acquiring all of the Infinity Gems (the renamed "Soul Gems" from Starlin's time on "Warlock," a smart move since one of the Soul Gems was called... the Soul Gem,) would make him a God. So off he goes across the cosmos, scheming to take down each Elder of the Universe holding one. The outcome is never in doubt. How Thanos outwits his opposition is where the real fun lies and - even still - things don't quite wrap up as you would think.
Despite the strength in writing, Ron Lim's art may be the true selling point. "The Thanos Quest" is gorgeous. Packaged in vibrant, jumbo issues, the presentation is ahead of its time. The style reminds me a lot of George Perez' art on "The Avengers" in the late 90's during Kurt Busiek's run: lush, full backgrounds with dynamic colouring. My favourite panels come towards the end as the Mad Titan summarizes the power of each gem he possesses. Lim perfectly captures Starlin's essence here. As I mentioned before: wondrous, yet unsettling.
There's a lot to love here, though I'm hesitant to call the entire collected trade truly great. While the "Silver Surfer" issues fly by, there's still some unneeded padding going on. Also, if you really want the full Thanos experience, I would recommend reading "Avengers vs. Thanos" first (review) That's going to get you the most bang from your buck. If you like that, get both this and "Infinity Gauntlet" in a heartbeat. I guess I should get around to reviewing that one too.
Up next: I do just that as Thanos takes on the Marvel Universe and wins.