Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Norrin Radd-The Silver Surfer

In the world of comic books there was, in the sixties, a Christ like figure; the Silver Surfer. Sent to Earth to precede it's annihilation at the hand of Galactus the god like entity. So far so biblical. That this character appeared in the popular title Fantastic Four was fitting. The title featured the writing of Stan Lee and the art of Jack Kirby and was a pop art icon. The title’s influence was seen in the works of Warhol and Lichtenstein. With the creation of the Silver Surfer an idol was created for the burgeoning counter culture. He ends up helping to stop the earth’s destruction and is cast down to live among us earthlings.

References to The silver Surfer and his back story can be found in materials such as The man who fell to earth, The day the earth stood still and Stranger in a strange land and in Crimson Tide two crew members discuss the best interpretation of the Silver Surfer.

His origin is by way of transformation to save his home world and this self sacrifice for the sake of his native planet and his sacrifice in saving the Earth strengthens the martyrdom of the Surfer. He had his own title for 18 issues, this time with art by John Buscema, which were thoughtful, and full of metaphor including a nemesis in the Satan like character Mephisto there was definitely never a mainstream character like the Silver Surfer and he appealed to outsiders and the thinking element of comic book fans.  The Kirby rendition of the Surfer was powerful and dynamic; Buscema’s take was a far more vulnerable character study. This was a character that spent a great deal of time questioning mortality, dwelling on existential matters and generally suffering. In his pre transformation guise he was the mortal Norrin Rad and his beloved Shalla Bal his tragic love that could never be reunited.

Alas the demand for action required that the Surfers title be revamped and Kirby returned to give a taste of where the character might go. Issue 18 ends with the Surfer turning his back on earth and almost declaring war. This was the end of the title.

“Let mankind beware! From this time forth — the Surfer will be the deadliest one of all!”
The title was relaunched in the eighties but by this time the type of internalised hero character was a mainstay in the comic mainstream. Those early exploits of Norrin Radd were milestones. The representation of him in the movie Fantastic Four:Rise of the Silver Surfer (an, at best, average movie)is very good and gives a taste of the Surfers dignity and power.
celluloid representation

Between these periods many of the leading Comic book artists took on the challenge of rendering the surfer’s clean lines and streamline shape with varying results. The thing with the Surfer is that when you look at the concept it is intrinsicallyly silly and comic books at that time were aimed at kids and teens therefore this navel gazing sky rider of the space ways was a revelation to many.

Fallen Angel, Christ figure, misunderstood alien; he certainly had many disciples in the comic book fraternity

No comments:

Post a Comment

having said that;