There is one Marvel super hero i have loved since childhood. He stands among many of the classic Lee/Kirby characters, but few people actually know the man behind the silver shell. He has traveled far, from one end of the universe to the other, and has been beaten, broken, and has found that to fight for what one believes in, one must sacrifice everything to do what is right. The Silver Surfer is a tormented character, locked inside a mental prison, who’s forced to live alone with the weight of his decisions. This post is an homage to The Silver Surfer, one of Marvels most under rated super heroes.
The story begins on a planet in the milky way galaxy light years from Earth called “Zenn-La”. Zenn-La is a peaceful, highly technologically developed Utopian planet. People don’t have to work and instead pursue the more pleasurable aspects of life. Classes don’t really exist but their are people in larger positions of power within the larger social structure (scientists, librarians, astronomers, etc). Zenn La has outlawed all forms of weaponry except for one, a massive laser cannon that is capable of mass destruction. People live happy and joyful lives without a care in the world. A young astronomer named Norrin Rad, finds himself enamored by the mysteries of space travel and disgusted by the complacency / lack of will of his people to strive and explore the cosmos. He spends every waking moment with the feeling of wonderment and imagines what life is like else where in the universe.Norrin’s heart lies with a woman by the name Shalla Bal. They have known each other since they were children and are madly in love. As he gets older he hopes to marry her and spend the rest of his life with her. All seems perfect, but little do they know their lives are about to change forever.
Later on, the people of Zenn La are met by a large Orb of unknown origin which invades their air space and its presence causes mass hysteria. Zenn La’s residents, helpless against this potential threat, send ships towards the craft in an attempt to make contact but are met with no response. Out of sheer panic, Zenn La’s leaders find no other option then to fire the one weapon they have to ensure the survival of their people. This ends up backfiring on them, and not only does it destroy a large portion of their main city, but it doesn’t remotely damage the craft. In the aftermath, Norrin makes one last attempt to make contact with the ship. He is brought inside to find a being of extreme power and high intelligence named Galactus. Galactus is one of the main forces in the universe and survives on the energy of planets. He informs Norrin Radd that he will be consuming Zenn La to feed his endless hunger and that in the process, all life will be expunged from the planet. In a deal that will change his life forever, Norrin Radd is offered a chance to become herald to Galactus and in exchange, Zenn La will be spared. As his herald, Norrin would be responsible for scouring the universe for energy rich planet for Galactus to consume. He agrees and is gifted with the power cosmic, which enables him to harness cosmic energy, trace galactic energy signatures, heal himself and others, and explore regions of the universe with the speed of a beam of light. With silver skin and a surfboard that is mentally bound to him, the silver surfer is born and thus Norrin Radds ultimate sacrifice begins. He is forced to leave Zenn La forever, which means to never return to his love Shalla Bal and to serve the mighty galactus’ undying hunger for destruction.
In the beginning, the surfer had intended to lead Galactus to uninhabited planets, but Galactus tampered with his soul to prevent this. Radd spends an unknown amount of time spreading the plague of death that is Galactus. Radd inevitably comes across the planet Earth, where he meets the fantastic four and a woman named Alicia Masters. Touched by human life on earth and the spirit of change, the surfer renounces his master and is imprisoned on Earth by an invisible barrier created by Galactus. While on earth the surfer teams up with many other earth-heroes, (dr. strange, captain america, fantastic four) to battle evil and eventually gets off of earth and back into space where his innate need for exploration lies.
The surfers adventures merely start here and develop the character even further as the book progresses. The surfer explores different planets and uncovers interesting civilizations. One planet the surfer ventures to is a living planet, which tries to consume him. Norrin spends most of his time alone in self-reflection, regarding his decision in saving his home planet, he often expresses heart-break over the loss of Shalla Bal. In his travels, he comes across a few other love interests (mantis/nova) who seem to only temporarily feed his yearning for companionship in a solemn universe. Norrin still loves Shall Bal but there is always something preventing them from being together. Norrin Radd is a character that swears to protect life in any way possible and often tries to solve situations through peaceful means before resorting to violence. This often times doesn’t work and the surfer is forced to show off some of the impressive strengths of the power cosmic. Often times the silver surfer’s goodness is manipulated by evil and he is often beaten into submission even though he is incredibly powerful. Over time, Norrin learns to control and harness his abilities and not only does he become ridiculously powerful, but he becomes a key component in keeping the cosmic balance. Space is a place where evil and good are constantly locked into a never-ending chess game, each strategically trying to get the upper hand on the other. The silver surfer at times plays the pawn for both sides, but his intentions always stay pure regardless of who he chooses to aid.
Norrin Radd is a very deep character, with genuinely human flaws and their is a lot to be said about his philosophy on life as well. His role in the larger scale battles that happen in the Marvel Universe are largely important. He intervenes constantly in the Kree and Skrull Wars, the battle over The Infinity Gauntlet with Thanos, saves Galactus from being destroyed to keep the cosmic balance, and saves countless planets from destruction. I have read basically everything that has been put out around the character, my favorite being Vol 2 (issues 1-100 1987 -1993) and Silver Surfer: Requim, which features the death of Norrin Radd. I don’t think I can name a superhero that I find more interesting and more of a connection with out there. Do yourself a favor and do some reading.
Here’s a link to a silver surfer one shot on digital: Click Here!