One of the noblest and most tormented Marvel superheroes, Silver Surfer is the mighty herald of Galactus, the devourer of worlds. Gifted with the Power Cosmic and a trusty board faster than light, which he can summon at will whenever needed, Norrin Radd travels to distant reaches throughout the universe as the Silver Surfer.
Among the many superheroes of early comic book fame, Silver Surfer stands out as a unique example exploring morality, philosophy and sensitivity in a poetic manner. In the context of the times, this comic was like no other on the newsstands.
Silver Surfer was a Romantic in the classical sense – a being of purity, longing for peace and harmony on a cosmic scale, encountering human frailty and fear, and always bewildered and pained by it.
Your shadow… cannot be erased. You cannot defeat the dark. But you can find the light inside of you. Protect it. Keep it from harm. Care for it. For it will be fragile. And then, when it is strong… share it. Give it away. Shine it down upon those still trapped in the shadows. And in time… perhaps… the brilliance of your light will outshine the void within. And. There. Bathed. In. Flame. You. Will. Be… forgiven.Silver Surfer – Earth-616
In 1966 Jack Kirby at Marvel Comics came up with the new character, the Silver Surfer, that first made his appearance in a Fantastic Four episode. Eventually Marvel Comics gave the Surfer his own comic book series in 1968 which tells Silver Surfer’s origin. With the stories being done by Stan Lee, with artwork by John Buscema, each issue was a treat for the eyes.
Despite being the creation of artist Jack Kirby, Stan Lee found the character who most embodied what he felt and wanted to say; and while his poetic, soul-searching version of the Silver Surfer wasn’t what Kirby had envisioned, Lee brought something passionate and heartfelt to it.
I like Silver Surfer because he’s the most philosophical, always philosophizing about the human race and the human condition and why people are the way they are, why they don’t appreciate this wonderful planet they live on… he has a nice moral tone.Stan Lee
The art of John Buscema lent a dignity and nobility to the character, even as it also captured that frailty in so many of the humans he encountered. Buscema portraited all of that with expressive faces and body language, set against a backdrop that spanned the stars and other dimensions.
Silver Surfer’s origins
According to the plot, Norrin Radd originally lived on the planet Zenn-La with his beloved Shalla-Bal. The almighty Galactus, devourer of worlds, came cruising through the universe and happened upon their planet.
Norrin Radd confronted the invader of his planet, Galactus, and offered to become his herald and seek out new worlds for him to sate his hunger in exchange for sparing Zenn-La. Galactus agreed, transforming Radd into the Silver Surfer and giving him the Power Cosmic to explore the universe to find other planets for him to devour.
Even within the smallest bit of matter, an endless cosmos may exist! For size is ever-changing, ever-relative – and the sun and planets I see before me prove, beyond all doubt, that there have always been – and will always be – worlds within worlds!Silver Surfer – Earth-616
The Surfer served Galactus well for several decades enjoying exploring the wonders of the universe. However, in accepting a future at Galactus’ side, he has to leave the love of his life, the beautiful Shalla Bal, behind, inducing centuries of wistful pain and longing.
Why… Why must I ever behold the loveliness of Shalla-Bal in every female face I see? Will I never be free of her haunting memory… of her deathless love?Silver Surfer – #2
During his explorations in the galaxy, it became increasingly difficult for Silver Surfer to find energy-rich worlds devoid of life. Later he found planet Earth, but learning that it was inhabited by sentient beings he experienced a conversion after talking to a blind woman who sensed the Surfer’s inherent essential goodness. The Surfer rebelled against Galactus and sided with Earth, and with help from the Fantastic Four fought Galactus to a stand-off.
Galactus agreed to spare the planet, but he punished the Surfer by erecting a barrier around Earth the Surfer’s board could not penetrate and would keep him unable to return to Zenn-La, ensuring years of heartbreak, angst, and mourning for the tortured herald.
As a result of his time and experiences on Earth, the Silver Surfer became quite disillusioned with humanity, and pessimistic about mankind’s future. After repeated attempts to help people were interpreted as hostile intent, the Surfer gradually withdrew into himself. His pessimism was very unusual, Silver Surfer was just too different in consciousness from what was expected of a typical superhero, and no doubt contributed to the original series only lasting 18 issues.
They long for peace, yet gird for war! They search for love, yet harbor hate! If man is sane… then the universe is steeped in madness!Silver Surfer – Earth-616
The philosophical musings of the Silver Surfer, his sage pronouncements and tragic personal circumstances made him very unlike any other superhero up to that time. The profound anguish he often expressed at his fate was so wonderfully over the top, in a typical comic book way of italicizing and bold-facing way too many words with lots of exclamation points for extra emphasis, that it went beyond kitsch and was just fascinating with this tragic figure, alone in the universe with such a heavy burden to bear.
Though there have been several other series and many appearances in other comics with other superheroes, true fans agree that after the original 18-issue series ended, the Surfer was just never the same, gradually becoming much more of a “typical” superhero.
I am not a god. I have never created life… but I have lived. That is enough. So I will fight to preserve that same opportunity – to love, to dream, to soar among the stars – for all those yet to come. Many lives will be lost in the battle ahead – but their efforts will ensure that some remain to remember their deeds. And, like the gods, they will truly live forever… even after they are gone.Silver Surfer – Earth-616
Definitely recommended for the discerning comics fan!