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As part of the vast All-new Marvel NOW explosion, a new resurrection of the Silver Surfer is unveiled later this month, which is something that really could draw me back to regular, monthly comic-buying, even more so than Peter David’s new ‘X-Factor’ series.
Created by Jack Kirby in early 1966 and having had various runs and mutations over the decades, the Silver Surfer remains one of the most interesting, enigmatic and enduring icons of the Marvel universe, once referred to by Stan Lee as “one book that I would have liked to have always done myself”.

Although I wouldn’t necessarily list him as one of my absolute favorite characters, he has always been one of the most intriguing. I loved the far-awayness of those stories, the fact that Norin Rad/Silver Surfer was such an isolated, solo character out there in the depths of the cosmos, a lone rider, with his tragic origin story, his unrequited longings, his unfulfilled quest and his constant pain and disappointment. It’s this sense of loneliness and isolation, along with the characteristic inner monologue that was an idiosyncrasy of the Silver Surfer comics, that most springs to mind when I think of him; as that cosmic savior who “bears his cross and endures his lonely obligation” (as Bradford W. Wright put it in his 2003 book Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America).

Indications are that the new title (Writer Dan Slott and artist Mike Allred; Issue #1 cover featured above) will see some reinvention, with entirely new elements being brought into the mix along with at least one new major character; ‘Dawn Greenwood’, a female character and essentially a traveling companion for the Surfer, with whom he forms a bond (in some respects a modified version of the idea Steve Englehart originally had for the Silver Surfer series that ran from 1987, Englehart having wanted to make the Avengers character Mantis a companion for the Surfer; that idea was never permitted at the time).

This already indicates a different tone from the more classic ‘lone rider’ Silver Surfer motif highlighted above, but in essence it’s hard to see how you could go wrong with the Surfer; though the lack of success of the 2003 relaunch, which lasted only 14 issues, may have been more a reflection of shifting trends and lack of public interest than quality of themes or writing.

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One of the early Silver Surfer appearances, a few issues after his debut.

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A Marvel universe without a monthly Silver Surfer title seems just wrong somehow. From his first appearance in Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966), the Surfer has been a source of fascination, though the character has perhaps never quite crossed into the popularity contest of Marvel’s top-tier poster-boys.

Nevertheless the most famous Herald of Galactus has played his part in some of the Marvel Universe’s biggest events and storylines, such as the Infinity Gauntlet and its related crossovers, to cite just one example, and the pages of Silver Surfer comics served as the introduction-point for numerous longstanding characters, such as Mephisto for example – in Silver Surfer#3 (1968): ‘The Power and the Prize’.

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Silver Surfer #85: Part of the epic Infinity Crusade crossover…

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Most of the best-regarded Silver Surfer stories occurred in the second-run as a solo title from 1987 onwards, with Steve Englehart as initial writer, though eventually replaced by Jim Starlin from issue #34 onwards.

Stan Lee might’ve been unhappy about relinquishing the Surfer into the hands of others; of that time, he is quoted as saying “it was kind of nice for me to have been the only writer of the Silver Surfer, so I felt a little bit disappointed when somebody else did it”.

But this run of the Silver Surfer was my era and it remains for many the most fruitful. And dammit, Silver Surfer #75 and the death of Nova remains one of my most nostalgic issues of any title.

Whether past glories can be recaptured or lived-up-to remains to be seen; my nostalgia is for the Ron Marz and Jim Starlin eras and for stories like ‘The Herald Ordeal’ and the Kree/Skrull War, but like any classic title re-launch it should be about a balance between revitalizing and paying dues to the existing mythology and backstory as well as moving forward and doing new things. The new title should, you’d hope, revive and involve some of those classic, old characters and associations; Adam Warlock, Nova, Drax, Namor the Submariner, and especially The Watchers, among others (I always had a real soft-spot for Ganymede, personally, though I appear to be a minority).

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Silver Surfer #81: First appearance of Ganymede; a character no one likes except me apparently…

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Silver Surfer, by the way, is one Marvel property I don’t ever want to see attempted by movie-makers: it will NOT work! Seeing him in Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer was bad enough, thank you; and the less said about those FF movies the better. Or those FFF movies, if you get my drift.

20th Century Fox were allegedly hiring Babylon 5 maestro and Silver Surfer – Requiem writer J. Michael Straczynski to write the screenplay for a Silver Surfer big-screen spin-off, but that project appears to have petered out some time ago.

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The Stan Lee/John Buscema graphic novel, Judgement Day.

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Among the highlights of Norin Rad’s epic saga is the graphic novel ‘Judgement Day’ (Stan Lee/John Buscema), memorable for its superb art and based on a conflict between two cosmic heavyweights, Galactus and Mephisto. I haven’t read the 2007 four-issue miniseries Silver Surfer: Requiem by J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5); though it’s something I’m very keen to read some day and is at the high end of a very long reading list. Graphic novels notwithstanding, however, below is a selection of some of the most memorable, loved moments of the Silver Surfer title’s history…

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10 Great Moments of (Classic) SILVER SURFER History…
Silver Surfer 1 August 1968

Silver Surfer #1
(August, 1968)

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Silver Surfer #4
(February, 1969)

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Silver Surfer Vol 3 #10
“Space Is… Eternity!”
(April, 1988)

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Silver Surfer Vol 3 #34
“…Even Demigods Must Dream!”
(February, 1990)

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Silver Surfer Vol 3 #37
“A Destructive Encounter!”
(May, 1990)

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Silver Surfer Vol 3 #46
“The Soul World”
(February, 1991)

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Silver Surfer Vol 3 #55
“The Universe According to Thanos Part 1: Genesis”
(September, 1991)

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Silver Surfer Vol.3 #67
‘Sins of the Fathers’
July, 1992

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Silver Surfer Vol 3 #75
“Destruction”
(December, 1992)

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Silver Surfer Vol 3 #99
“Temptation, Part 3: Lust”
(December, 1994)

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