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Silver Surfer


Marvel Entertainment Marvel Comics Marvel Slots Online Fantastic Four

The Silver Surfer (or Norrin Radd) is a Marvel Comics superhero created by Jack Kirby. The character first appears in Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966), the first of a three-issue arc fans and historians call "The Galactus Trilogy".

Originally a young astronomer of the planet Zenn-La, Norrin Radd made a bargain with a being, pledging himself to serve as his herald in order to save his home-world from destruction by the fearsome cosmic entity known as Galactus. Imbued in return with a tiny portion of Galactus' Power Cosmic, Radd acquired great powers and a new version of his original appearance. Galactus also created for Radd a surfboard-like craft — modeled after a childhood fantasy of his — on which he would travel at speeds beyond that of light. Known from then on as the Silver Surfer, Radd began to roam the cosmos searching for new planets for Galactus to consume. When his travels finally took him to Earth, the Surfer came face-to-face with the Fantastic Four, a team of powerful superheroes that helped him to rediscover his nobility of spirit. Betraying Galactus, the Surfer saved Earth but was punished in return by being exiled there.

Publication history

Early appearances

The Silver Surfer debuted as an unplanned addition to the superhero-team comic Fantastic Four #48 ([March 1966). The comic's writer-editor, Stan Lee, and its penciler and co-plotter, Jack Kirby, had by the mid-1960s developed using a three-collaborative technique known as the "Marvel Method": The two would discuss story ideas, Kirby would work from a brief synopsis to draw the individual scenes and plot details, and Lee would finally add the dialog and captions. When Kirby turned in his pencil art for the story, he included a new character he and Lee had not discussed. As Lee recalled in 1995, "There, in the middle of the story we had so carefully worked out, was a nut on some sort of flying surfboard". He later expanded on this, recalling, "I thought, 'Jack, this time you've gone too far'". After Kirby explained that the story's agreed-upon antagonist, a god-like cosmic predator of planets named Galactus should have some sort of herald, and that he created the surfboard "because I'm tired of drawing spaceships!" and Lee, taken by the noble features of the new character, who turned on his master to help defend Earth, overcame his initial skepticism and began adding characterization. The Silver Surfer soon became a key part of the unfolding story.

Following the Surfer's debut, Lee and Kirby brought him back as a recurring guest in Fantastic Four #55-61, 72, 74-77 (ranging Oct. 1966 - Aug. 1968), and the character his solo debut in the backup story of Fantastic Four Annual #5 (Nov. 1967).

The following year, Lee launched the solo title The Silver Surfer. John Buscema was penciller for the first 17 issues of the series, with Kirby returning for the 18th and final issue. The first seven issues, which included anthological "Tales of the Watcher" backup stories, were 72-page (with advertising), 25-cent "giants", as opposed to the typical 36-page, 12-cent comics of the time. Thematically, the stories dealt with the Surfer's exile on Earth and the inhumanity of man as observed by this noble yet fallen hero. Though short-lived, the series became known as one of Lee's most thoughtful and introspective works.

Following his series' cancellation, the Surfer made sporadic appearances as a guest star or antagonist in such comic books as Thor, The Defenders, and Fantastic Four. Lee remained partial to the Surfer, and with Kirby collaborated on a seminal 1978 graphic novel starring the character.

Subsequent series

After a 1982 one-shot by writer-artist John Byrne, the Surfer appeared in his second solo, ongoing title in 1987. Here he escaped the confines of Earth and left for the spaceways. Originally written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Marshall Rogers, the series would later be written by Jim Starlin and illustrated by Ron Lim. Starlin in turn would be succeeded by Ron Marz, with George Pérez and J. M. DeMatteis also having brief writing stints. Additional artists included Tom Grindberg, Ron Garney, and Jon J. Muth, as well as periodic guest spots by the aforementioned John Buscema. Although the title experienced great initial success, and continued to be buoyed by tie-ins to "Infinity Gauntlet" and other company crossovers, this second ongoing series was canceled in 1998 after 146 issues. It was followed in 1999 by the two issue mini-series, Silver Surfer: Loftier Than Mortals.

The Silver Surfer: Parable, scripted by Lee and drawn by Moebius, was serialized in two parts in 1988 and 1989. Because of inconsistencies with other stories, it has been argued that these stories actually feature an alternate Silver Surfer from a parallel Earth. The graphic novel by Lee/Moebius won the Eisner Award for best finite/limited series in 1989.

The 2000s

A new ongoing Silver Surfer series began in 2003, focusing on the character's alien nature and messianic allegory. It lasted 14 issues. The Surfer later appeared in an issue of Cable & Deadpool and has twice been reunited with the superhero group the Defenders. In 2006-2007, he starred in the four-issue miniseries Annihilation: Silver Surfer and featured in the miniseries Heralds of Galactus, both part of the "Annihilation" fictional crossover.

In 2007, the Silver Surfer starred in a four-issue mini-series Silver Surfer: Requiem by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Esad Ribic. The first issue was released May 30, 2007 to coincide with the character's first movie appearance. Published under the Marvel Knights imprint, Silver Surfer: Requiem portrays the character upon learning he has a terminal illness.

This was followed by the mini-series Silver Surfer: In Thy Name, by writer Simon Spurrier and artist Ten Eng Huat

In other media


Silver Surfer (TV series)

The Silver Surfer from the Silver Surfer animated series.

The Surfer's first animated appearance was in "Galactus," an episode of the Hanna-Barbera 1967 Fantastic Four animated series, which closely followed the Marvel comic story.

He also made several appearances in the 1994 version of the animated series (that was part of The Marvel Action Hour) voiced by Robin Sachs in the first season, then Edward Albert in the last episode of the second. This series also adhered closely to the original comic book story, recounting Surfer and Galactus' coming to Earth in a two-part episode as well as Doctor Doom's theft of Surfer's powers.

In 1998, the Surfer starred in a solo animated series on the FOX Network, voiced by Paul Essiembre. Blending cel and computer animation, this series was rendered in the style of Surfer creator Jack Kirby but diverged from the comic in various ways. Although it accurately depicted the Surfer's origin on Zenn-La, the method by which he regained his emotions and memories was altered to not involve the Fantastic Four. Further adventures included appearances by many characters from Marvel's "cosmic" stable, including Thanos, the Watcher, Ego the Living Planet, Mentor, Drax the Destroyer, Pip the Troll, Nebula, and the Kree and Skrull empires, their portrayals and roles often differing from their comic book incarnations. Possessed of an unusually serious tone compared to Marvel's other animated projects, with frequent maudlin musings by the Surfer and episode resolutions which were often downbeat. It received good rating, but was canceled after only one season of thirteen episodes due to politics between Toy Biz and Saban Entertainment. The series ended on a cliffhanger. Eight further episodes for the next season were written but never animated. The Comic Book of the Silver Surfer also appeared in an episode of Heroes Season 1.


A Silver Surfer film had been long in development since the 1980s. The Silver Surfer made his film debut in 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the sequel to the 2005 film Fantastic Four. Doug Jones played the Surfer on set, and a computer simulation enhanced the reflective look of his prosthetics. Laurence Fishburne provided the character's voice. Assured of the film's commercial success, 20th Century Fox hired J. Michael Straczynski to write the screenplay for a spin-off film. Straczynski said his script is a sequel, but will also delve into the Surfer's origins. Recently, he said it may not happen.
In this continuity, the Surfer's origins are highly similar to that of his comic-book incarnation, in that he agreed to become Galactus' herald in return for the safety of his home-world and the woman he loved. The movie incarnation differs from his comics counterpart in that instead of having innate power (the Power Cosmic), his power comes from the surfboard itself, which also serves as a beacon for Galactus. After Doctor Doom renders him unconscious, he steals the board. The Fantastic Four free the Surfer from imprisonment to help them defeat Doom. Doom throws a cosmic spear at the Surfer to kill him, but Sue Storm steps in and saves him. She tries to use her force fields to block the spear, but it passes through the field and impales Sue. The Surfer then decides to follow his heart and turn on Galactus after he witnesses Sue dying in Reed's arms. Upon reuniting with the board, the Surfer brings Sue back to life and then goes off to destroy Galactus, appearing to implode when he does. At the end of the film, Surfer is floating aimlessly through space, with his board in the background. As he drifts off screen, his eyes open and his board flies towards him.

In promotion for the film, the Franklin Mint, a collectibles marketer, altered 40,000 California quarters by putting the Silver Surfer on the reverse. The United States Mint, upon discovering this, informed the studio and the Franklin Mint that it is illegal to turn a coin into advertising media, and violators can face a fine.

Video games

The Silver Surfer video game, developed by Software Creations, Ltd., debuted on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990. The game is notorious for its unforgiving and extremely steep difficulty. However, the Surfer has also appeared in other video games, often cast as a villain. For examples, Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems for the SNES features evil clones of the Silver Surfer as enemies.

He is a bonus character in the game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance voiced by Chris Cox. He can be unlocked by completing all Comic Book Missions or by entering a cheat code. His optional costumes are Power Surge (renamed as Silver Surfer after having 3 different outfits on PC), Silver Age, Vitality, and Heavy Damage, though they are all identical (it is rumored that the game's PC release may replace them with different outfits, especially Norrin Radd (replace Silver Age), The Keeper (replace Vitality), Silver Savage (replace Heavy Damage)). During the player's visit to the Skrull homeworld, he appears briefly as a non-player ally who resurrects and heals the player's team. He then helps them defeat Galactus (in the comics, it's the other way around - Silver Surfer does all the fighting).

The Surfer most recently appeared in the video game adaptation of the movie, developed by Visual Concepts of 2K Sports. It was released in June 2007 to coincide with the film's release to dismal reviews.

He also makes a brief cameo in the original Spider-Man videogame. If the player has Debug mode on during the helicopter chase scene, then there will be a blimp with Spiderman on it to jump to instead of going through the whole level. This leads to a brief bonus level where Spider-Man is standing on the blimp, and must avoid the helicopter's machine guns till the level ends. In the beginning of said level, the Silver Surfer is seen flying by.


The United States Postal Service in November 2007, released a series of $0.41 stamps honoring Marvel comics. One stamp shows the Silver Surfer on his board and another shows the first eponymous issue. Associated paraphernalia (e.g., first day covers) were also available.

Cultural references

Numerous films, songs, books and television shows have referenced the Silver Surfer since his 1960s debut. In the 1983 film Breathless, Richard Gere's character was an avid fan of his comics. In Quentin Tarantino's 1992 Reservoir Dogs a Silver Surfer poster is clearly seen in Mr. Orange's apartment. In Futurama Comics, Bender accidentally deactivates the autopilot of the Planet Express ship, causing the ship to fly out of control, knock the Silver Surfer off his board, then enter a Space Invaders video game style battle. In the 1995 film Crimson Tide, two submarine crew members argue over the merits of the alternate Silver Surfer versions as drawn by Kirby and Moebius. He has also been mentioned in television programs such as Heroes; Malibu, CA; Scrubs, ; The Wire; Dexter's Laboratory; Doug, Andromeda; The Fairly OddParents and Bring me the Head of Boba Fett the pilot of Welcome to Eltingville

Musician Joe Satriani included the character on the cover of his 1987 album, Surfing with the Alien. The following year a planet was named Satriani after him on Silver Surfer vol. 3, #13. In one of his subsequent albums, Flying in a Blue Dream, there is a track titled "Back to Shalla-Bal." Satriani's 2000 album, Engines of Creation, also includes a song called "The Power Cosmic." In the song, "Last of the New Wave Riders," from Utopia's Adventures in Utopia, the final line (bracketed as an aside) is "here comes that Silver Surfer now." Symphonic black metal band Bal-Sagoth featured "The Scourge of the Fourth Celestial Host," a track about the Silver Surfer, on their aptly titled album, The Power Cosmic. On the solo album, Accident of Birth, from Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickinson, in the song "Darkside of Aquarius", the song ends with the line, 'From the starlite sky, on a silver sea. A lonely Silver Surfer comes to push the wheel for me.'

The Blue Man Group have also cited the Silver Surfer as part of the inspiration for their image, as he is one of the few bald superheroes in existence while presenting a clear image of power. (Credit: Wikipedia).


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