Friday, 19 November 2010


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Who created the SILVER SURFER?  If you know anything
about comics you'll probably reply "JACK KIRBY" - but you'd
be wrong!  Well, you'd be right - but you'd also be wrong.
Confused?  You soon will be!

Truly it was Jack who originated and introduced the idea of GAL-
ACTUS having a silver-skinned herald on a surfboard who searched
for suitable planets to supply his master's need to feed off their energy -
no argument there.  However, a character does not really come to "life"
until he is presented in his fullest and final form to the panting public.  In
other words, it's not necessarily the initial, basic idea in someone's mind
which defines a character (or concept) - it's what appears on the printed
pages of the published magazine which establishes how he (or it) is
perceived by the world at large.

So - who is the Surfer?  The Silver Surfer, formerly NORRIN RADD
of the planet ZENN-LA, sacrificed himself to Galactus by swearing to
serve him if he would only spare the Surfer's home planet from destruc-
tion.  That was all STAN LEE's idea - even the name "Silver Surfer"
is said to have sprung from Stan's fertile mind.  (Apparently Jack had
only referred to the character as "the Surfer" in his margin notes.)

Jack obviously envisaged the Surfer as having had no prior existence
before Galactus created him by means of his "power cosmic".  That's why
the Surfer had seemingly never considered the consequences of his actions
on the millions of beings who had perished as a result of him serving "the
big G".  It wasn't until his encounter with BEN GRIMM's blind girlfriend,
ALICIA MASTERS, that he developed a sense of empathy for other
living creatures - it was only then that he discovered he had a "soul".

Stan, on the other hand, thought the Surfer would work better as
a noble, tragic figure if he had made some kind of heart-rending sac-
rifice on a quasi-religious scale.  Norrin Radd had essentially "died"
in order to save every living person on his world - the comparisons to
CHRIST are obvious - and serve to elevate the Surfer to an almost
saint-like status - a "saviour" even.

True, there's an inherent dichotomy in this concept of Surfy's
origin.  Surely one who cared thus for the inhabitants of his own
world would not so randomly and recklessly doom countless billions
of other intelligent life-forms to cosmic destruction?  We are left to as-
sume that Galactus has exerted a subtle influence on the mind of his her-
ald, clouding his conscious mind to the fate he inflicts on hapless plan-
ets as he scours the cosmos.  Galactus has caused the Surfer to forget
his past, enabling him to act as his official "food-finder" with a clear
and untroubled conscience.  Until, of course, Alicia's tenderness
helps reawaken his former and forgotten "humanity".

Well, it's arguable, I suppose, as to what version of the Surfer
works best, but it's Stan's concept of the character which has per-
meated and defined the comic-buying public's perception of who
the silver-skinned sky-rider is and how he came to be.  So, who
created the Silver Surfer?

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby - but not necessarily in that order.


Aaron said...

Heh, love the alliteration!

I haven't read this run but have been loving John Buscema's work on FF recently, he sort of took what Jack did and really ran with it.

Kid said...

I'm lucky enough to have all 18 original issues of the Surfer. (Although Kirby drew the last one.)

The MARVEL OMNIBUS edition is a nice addition to anyone's collection.

Yup, Buscema captured all the best elements of the power of Jack's work - without (shall we say?) the "idiosyncracies".