Let’s remember what we know about Silver Surfer so far. He’s a cosmic powered alien who is imprisoned on Earth against his weill. He’s madly in love with a woman on the other side of the universe. Mephisto, the devil incarnate, not only fears him but wants to control his power. So in these two issues Mephisto uses Shall Bal as incentive to coerce the Silver Surfer into destroying S.H.I.E.L.D.
Yes you read that. The maniacal lord of the underworld wants the paramilitary organization taken out, most likely to make it easier for him to take over the world at some point. To get this done, he promises Silver Surfer he won’t eternally damn Shalla Bal in exchange for the Surfer destroying S.H.I.E.L.D. The best part of this is that Mephisto is lurking around in a trench coat and fedora looking completely ridiculous.
Anyway Surfer begrudgingly accepts and attacks S.H.I.E.L.D. I get the point and all, but it’s so odd to see a story that involves the Silver Surfer, Mephisto and Nick Fury. Eventually Surfer finds out that Mephisto plans on going back on his word and the two wind up fighting. It’s revealed that the Silver Surfer is indeed much more powerful than anyone ever imagined and after thoroughly beating up poor Mephisto, he gets jettisoned into space. And for those wondering, Shalla Bal winds up alright, as since both Mephisto and Silver Surfer reneged on their deals it pretty much cancels everything.
These issues were John Buscema’s last work on the series, and he certainly stepped up his art a lot. I think that from an artistic perspective, they might have been my favorite issues of the series. Stan Lee sticks around for the next issue and is joined by a certain king of an artist.
These issues somehow manage to tie the Silver Surfer/Shalla Bal love story into a Latin American revolution during the 1960s. And yes, this story arc is as amazing as that sounds.
One of the key points in this series has been how there is such a huge disconnect between the Surfer and humanity. The story starts out with Surfer saving a man attempting to commit suicide and the police officer who was literally trying to talk him off of a ledge. Unfortunately, it becomes a scenario that Surfer is all too familiar with: instead of being thanked for his actions, he is getting yelled at for being a pariah and a danger to mankind.
Silver Surfer winds up travelling to Latin America and winds up getting sucked into a revolutionary war. Siding with the “freedom fighters” instead of the country’s established government, Surfer sets out to rescue one of their leaders, a woman named Donna Maria.
I like the fact that they make no effort whatsoever to identify what Latin American country it was set in. I don’t think it was possible to make it any vaguer.
As this is going on, Shalla Bal is being courted by Yarro Gort, who can’t stand that she still pines for Surfer even though he is no longer really a Zenn-La-ian. So Yarro decides that he’s going to break Shalla’s heart by taking them to Earth so she can see for herself that the Surfer has moved on with his life and that she should as well. Yarro has totally lucked out, as when they get to earth Surfer has just rescued Donna who is smooching him as a thank you. Yarro really is a dick.
Shalla doesn’t seem to be to worried about that and is more concerned by the fact that they’ve been captured by the evil army. Yarro shows his true colors and makes a deal with his captors: if they let him go, they can use his space ship’s weaponry to not only put down the rebellion but the Silver Surfer as well. Ultimately it comes down to an all out battle between Yarro and the government against Silver Surfer and the rebellion. Yarro gets killed, but Shalla is mortally wounded during the melee. Surfer then repairs the space ship and sends her back home to Zenn-La, as no Earth medicine could save her.
Stan Lee and John Buscema really get across with the words and art is how much sadness there is in the Silver Surfer’s life, not to mention that he always does the right thing, even when he has nothing to gain from doing so. He saved those men at the bridge only to be treated like a monster. He’s reunited with his beloved Shalla but has to send her to the other side of the universe so she can survive. It sucks being the Silver Surfer.
In Silver Surfer #3, the Silver Surfer bought a toothbrush, some toothpaste and a flannel for his face. No, those are the lyrics to that Squeeze song.
This tale from Stan Lee and John Buscema is all about making a deal with the devil. And in this case, Mephisto. The demonic lord of Marvel’s underworld makes his debut in this issue and does everything but formally say that he is the devil or Satan himself. Being that the Comics Code Authority was still in effect during this era, I’m assuming that might have had something to do with it.
With a theme of power and control permeating the story, Mephisto is introduced as being someone who has a keen interest in the Silver Surfer. His altruism–not to mention cosmic power–is seen as a threat to Mephisto.
Being that he is an all-knowing demon, Mephisto tries to tempt the Silver Surfer with the one thing he loves most in the universe: Shalla Bal. After attempting several other ways to trick (and in some cases, physical violence) the Surfer into submission, Mephisto gives one final offer of Shalla Bal in exchange of assistance (or at the very least, the allowance) of him collecting and corrupting souls throughout the universe.
Before the Silver Surfer can announce his decision, Shall Bal interrupts and pleads to not accept the offer. Their love isn’t worth the damnation of millions. Silver Surfer agrees that the good of the universe far supersedes their own love and rejects the Faustian deal. And the issue ends with Shalla Bal back on Zenn-La and the Surfer alone and still trapped on earth.
The story is pretty powerful and really is a morality play with Surfer having the weight of the universe on his chrome shoulders. Ultimately his (and Shalla’s) decision makes perfect sense. Sometimes making the right decision isn’t necessarily the best personal decision.