Few characters are as intriguing, mysterious, and downright powerful as Marvel’s Silver Surfer. Formerly the humanoid Norrin Radd, the Surfer came into being because of a fateful, and now timeless, visit to his planet by the immortal Devourer of Worlds, Galactus. Rather than let his planet be eaten by Galactus, the altruistic Radd offered his life, opting to become Galactus’ personal herald—the Silver Surfer. Obviously, Radd would never—ever—be the same again.
What stands out first about the Surfer is his overwhelming amount of power. When Galactus took Radd as his herald, he imbued him with just the tiniest sliver of the Power Cosmic. This “sliver” instaneously elevated Radd to the “cosmic” tier of Marvel characters and made him one of the most formidable powerhouses outside of the cosmic entities (Eternity, Infinity, Death, The Living Tribunal, etc.). The Silver Surfer has a range of powers including (but by no means limited to): extreme superhuman strength, speed, durability, stamina, reflexes, agility, and energy projection. The Surfer can create various stellar bodies, including stars, for a variety of effects. He has time travelling abilities. In fact, the Surfer can control time in his local vicinity to see any past or future events in that area. He can absorb and redirect practically any form energy in vast amounts. He can travel through black holes with essentially no ill effect. The Surfer has even been seen to resurrect life on at least one occasion. Silver Surfer is not a character anyone wants to oppose in practically any scenario.
The second powerful aspect of Silver Surfer’s character is his plight. He gave up his life in order to save his planet, but now he guides Galactus toward other planets that will be destroyed. In fact, after he first guided Galactus to a life-inhabited planet, the Surfer nearly went insane after its destruction. This prompted Galactus to subtly alter his memories and suppress his emotions so the Surfer would willingly guide the Planet Eater to life-inhabited planets. This cosmic path of destruction continued for about 100 years, until the Surfer reached Earth. This is when everything changed. The Surfer fought the Fantastic Four, and Reed Richards was able to repel Galactus with the Ultimate Nullifier. Upon his expulsion, however, Galactus erected an energy barrier around the Earth so that the Surfer could not escape. His melancholy time on Earth, subsequent lessons, and eventual escape mark the inception of the Silver Surfer, as we know him. He wanders the galaxy, righting wrongs in order to atone for his actions against life as the Galactus-controlled Surfer. He is introspective and somewhat sorrowful, but also incredibly driven and always willing to lend a helping hand.
The final aspect about the Silver Surfer that stands out is, of course, his design. His look unapologetically and undebateably screams “Cool.” You’re talking about a character that literally rides around on a surfboard!! The liquid-metal silver of his figure is just awesome. He’s always ripped to shreds, so that’s cool, as well. His appearance instantly says so much about the character, but also reveals almost nothing, at all. It’s a timeless design, and I understand why it has remained essentially unchanged since his 1966 debut.
The Silver Surfer was one of the first Marvel characters to introduce the cosmic landscape. I understand why his presence has stood the test of time. Here’s hoping to a solid film adaptation of the classic space wayfarer! (We don’t have to mention the Fantastic Four 2 version.. ever.)
**Bonus addition: Not to mention, Silver Surfer is also the owner of one of my personal favorite/coolest moments in comic book history. In an alternate timeline extremely far into the future, he steadily imbues his body with Black Matter and transforms into a black-metallic version of himself known as “The Fallen One.” He trains for multiple millennia in order to make himself worthy enough to lift Mjolnir and defeat a Thanos that defeated Galactus. On his way to face the titan, the Surfer runs into Cosmic Ghost Rider (I won’t give away his true identity), Thanos’s current herald. This results in one of the most incredible comic panels drawn, to date. Don’t mess with the Surfer.**
Fantastic Four #48-50 (1966), Writer—Stan Lee, Pencils—Jack Kirby
This is the story that started the tale of the Silver Surfer. The metallic soon-to-be hero leads Galactus to Earth and ends up going head-to-head with the Fantastic Four. A must-read in the Silver Surfer mythos.
Silver Surfer #1 (1968), Writer—Stan Lee, Pencils—John Buscema, Gene Colan
This tale revealed the full origin of the Silver Surfer. It holds a timeless place in the legacy of the Surfer.
Marvel NOW Silver Surfer (2014-2016), Writer—Dan Slott, Pencils—Michael Allred
This is the Surfer in a modern light. Slott and Allred have the Silver Surfer meet a woman and galavant through space with his companion. It’s a story for today’s audience that has a solid place in the Surfer’s history.
—The Cavalier Nerd