Friday, December 30, 2011

Discuss: The Silver Surfer

Karen: The sky-rider of the spaceways -the Silver Surfer. What do you think of him? How is he best used (starring character vs. supporting)? What are the best stories featuring him? Here's your chance to say anything you want about this wielder of the power cosmic.


Redartz said...

I always enjoyed the Surfer more as a supporting character, although to be fair I haven't read all that many of his solo stories. His 'universal' point of view on earth and it's denizens makes for some thought-provoking stories. His first story arc, in Fantastic Four 48-50, was wonderful; showing how that point-of-view developed due to the Surfer's interaction with the FF.

By the way, one of my all-time favorite covers featured the Silver Surfer; issue 14 of his own title (vol.1). That dramatic Buscema cover of the Surfer facing Spiderman is a great candidate for a poster. Of course, I am a sucker for black backgrounds...

Anonymous said...

Stan Lee’s great strength, apart from being, in every sense, The Man, has been as a relentless promoter, publicist, figurehead and the public face of Marvel. If I had to name one thing Marvel had that DC didn’t, it would be Stan. The only time DC really ever had anyone nearing his charisma was Jenette Khan. Because he is the one who has always been interviewed and asked about Marvel characters, especially the Silver Age ones, it has often sounded like he has taken the credit for everything.

For that reason, I’ve always admired the fact that even though the Surfer was Stan’s most beloved character and the one he refused to let anyone else touch or use, he always 100% credited Jack for the creation of the Surfer. Even though Stan must have been as responsible for the Surfer’s voice as Kirby was for his appearance, even though Big John drew the Surfer far more than Jack, Stan was always clear that Jack and only Jack created the Surfer.

I loved him guesting in the Defenders and other places (those Molecule Man issues of the Avengers are the absolute highlight of 4 bad years), but I also loved him solo. In his own series, he wandered the Earth, unappreciated, unloved and constantly shocked by man’s inhumanity and man’s inability to see the treasures before him. The fact that the Surfer was then cancelled after only 18 issues was actually perfect. Life imitated art and the fictional martyr was actually martyred to indifference.

I find I need to read those 18 issues with a completely different head to the FF, Defenders, Thor and his other appearances. They’re a different thing. If I had to pick a quintessential issue it would be the one where Al B Harper sacrifices himself to stop the Stranger. It has everything.

In the UK, pensioners who are Internet-literate are called Silver Surfers. I love that.

Hi Redartz - #14 over #4 ? Come on. Surely not?


david_b said...

The Surfer came in at such a monumental, pivotal point in our Marvel Universe, the coming of Galactus. While many a foe or being has approached Earth before and since, none was done in the heralded style as this. I still think of Norrin most warmly as the best/most memorable of 'ol G's food critics (as was mentioned a few weeks ago), partially since he was given such a nice back-story.

As was seen pretty quickly with declining sales of his own title, in many ways like Namor, Norrin only works as well as who he's along side or battling. His battle against the Vision in Avengers 116 was really the first time I saw him in a comic.

Wonderful variant cover found here..:

I really loved his Defenders stint, although power-wise I always found him a bit ill-suited for a team book. I mean, if Subby, Hulk and Norrin REALLY flexed their muscles, I really don't know any existing typical Marvel villain (or team of heroes..) who could hold up.

And of course, it was Dr Strange who took down Galactus, single-handedly.

His solo series covers were of the most memorable, ish 4 with Thor is a pillar of Buscema greatness.

Edo Bosnar said...

I suppose Silver Surfer works better as a guest star or supporting character, but much of that original solo series was quite good - especially that fourth issuing featuring the mash-up with Thor. I also enjoyed all of the Lee-penned 'special' stories from later, i.e. Ultimate Cosmic Experience, the 1981 one-shot, the graphic novels Judgement Day and The Enslavers, Parable...
By the way, I have to say, in my mind the irrefutably definitive Surfer artist is John Buscema (rendering Denzel Washington's Kirby v. Moebius argument superfluous and, indeed, rather risible).

dbutler16 said...

I love the Silver Surfer. At times, I'd say he's my favorite Marvel superhero. At his best, he's perhaps the most introspective and most philosophical of the superheroes. He's got the powers of a god, but it opposed to violence. He's worst if like a cosmic hippie or beatnik. I enjoyed some of the stories from the 1968 Stan Lee series such as: #1, his origin; #3, the first Mephisto (though the Mephisto thing wore thin after a while); and #4, versus Thor. I thought the 1982 one shot was pretty good. There were several good stories from Steve Englehart's run on the 1987 series. The opening story arc where the Elders try to kill Galactus (and the Surfer) was excellent. I also liked #13, where he is attacked by Ronin the Accuser. Also, the Jim Starlin story “The Return of Thanos” in #34-38 was very good. I thought
Silver Surfer: In Thy Name from 2007 was very good. A return to the philosophical peacenik which had been somewhat lost in the long running 1987 series (enjoyable though it was) in my opinion. Also, those early Fantastic Four issues from the 40s and 50s were very good. Finally, I thought that Silver Surfer: Parable from 1988 was incredibly well written. I think it was probably the best written Stan Lee Silver Surfer story. However, while I thought that the writing on Silver Surfer: Parable was awesome, but the art really turned me off. I mean, the penciling, the inking, the coloring, the lettering, all of it.

I do have to admit that I've never read Silver Surfer: Requiem or Silver Surfer: Judgment Day.

dbutler16 said...

Oh yeah, I prefer the Surfer as a starring character. I love that the 1987 series freed him from earth and allowed him to roam the spaceways once again, as he was meant to.

Fred W. Hill said...

While I loved Kirby's original Surfer stories in the FF as well as most of the first solo series (haven't read all of them, and most of what I have was from the Fantasy Masterpieces reprints in the late '70s), but my favorite Silver Surfer tales were from the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers run, as well as Starlin's followup. I think the Surfer works best as the main protagonist in long, epic, galaxy-spanning tales, as did Captain Marvel and Warlock. A series of one or two issue stories really get monotonous after a while, IMO, but the longer stories Englehart & Starlin, etc., specialized in kept my interest.

Rip Jagger said...

The Silver Surfer is one character Stan seemed to get better than Jack. The Surfer as redefined in his original series is a magnificent creature, a noble man in a less than noble world. He mopes and moans but he looks for the good and sometimes finds it.

This is the best Essentials volume there is since in my opinion John Buscema's (and his several inkers) looks better in black and white than in color. It's just outstanding!

Rip Off

Redartz said...

Richard: Yes, the cover to Silver Surfer #4 is a classic; as is the cover to issue #1! I favor #14 for it's simplicity and dramatic framing of the figures before a big yellow Moon (?). Of course, the fact that Buscema drew a great Spider-Man has nothing to do with it... :)

Doug said...

Rip --

I totally agree with you on the Surfer series looking great in the Essentials format. However, I think I am in the minority in that I wish he'd have had someone other than Dan Adkins inking him on the majority of those issues. Sal was great, and I'm not necessarily a fan of Big John inking himself, but I found Adkins to be a bit too heavy at times.


IADW said...

Happy New Year Doug and Karen! Thanks for a years worth of great posts!

Love this blog.

MattComix said...

I like the Silver Surfer but having read about Jack Kirbys original idea for the character I really wish that is what had gone through. As is I think part of the problem with his keeping a book going as that he tends to become a mouthpiece for the writer.

Then again really not every good character NEEDS to be in an ongoing monthly. It's kind of a 1930's publishing mentality that any and all good characters should get their own title.

jim kosmicki said...

my first exposure to the Surfer was in those early Defenders issues, so I like him as a foil to other characters. I admire the original series, especially the earlier double issues. Like most folks, I've always been intrigued by what Kirby would have done with the Savage Surfer storyline, and wish someone would pick up on that idea and play with it.

but the late 80's series is the most consistent and the one that I find myself re-reading more often than the original series.

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