With summer right around the corner, its beach season. To celebrate, I’m going to read about the premier surfer in comics history–the Silver Surfer. Granted, the chrome-domed hero never actually steps foot on a beach, but go along with me.
Silver Surfer #1 expands the character’s back story, showing what makes the man formerly known as Norrin Rand tick and why he made the choices in his life. It’s pretty clear that this is a continuation from his debut appearances in Fantastic Four, which is one of the things that I really like about the Stan Lee-helmed Marvel books of the early 1960s. The continuity really works, as he was co-scripting and editing everything the company was releasing.
Norrin lives on the far off planet of Zenn La, which is a perfect utopia. Unfortunately for him, he finds that society around him has become weak, if not ambivalent to the world around them. They overly rely on their technology and no one has the ambition to do anything out of he ordinary.
This lack of purpose is really evident when the world devouring Galactus comes to destroy Zenn La. Once their defense systems have failed, they whole civilization has pretty much given up.
So to save the planet (well mostly to save his longtime fiancée Shalla-Bal), Norrin makes an offering to Galactus. If the cosmic destroyer would spare this planet, he would serve as a herald of sorts, searching for planets that are less civilized for Galactus’ feeding. Norrin gives up everything that is important to him (Shalla-Bal’s love) in order to save his home planet.
Before you completely applaud Norrin’s nobility, he does look at this heraldship as an opportunity to explore the universe, as living in a Utopia is fairly boring. Now that we have a better understanding of his character, we have a better sense on why he was so upset to be imprisoned on Earth for defying him.
The writing on this (and the subsequent issues) is some of Stan Lee’s best. There is a fine mix of high-concept science fiction mixed in with his best Shakespeare-styled dialogue. It might be a little silly, but at the time no one was doing anything like this in comics. On the art side, John Buscema is just great