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Silver Surfer Masterworks Vol. 1
Regular Edition Cover

Vol. 15: Silver Surfer Masterworks
Variant Edition Cover

Click panels for larger images _________________________

(Click panels for larger images.)


When Norrin Radd wants to kick back, take it easy, and read tons of stuff about himself, this is where he goes!

Check out a fan's resource on the critically acclaimed animated Surfer series.



Original 27

  • First print: 9/89
  • _________________________

    Barnes & Noble Softcover

  • First print: 4/03

  • Same trade dress as 2002 Silver/Black design

    Marvel Masterworks: Silver Surfer Volume 1

    Reprints: Silver Surfer #1-6, FF Annual #5 Surfer backup story

    (Vol. 15 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)

    Most Recent Print Edition: 2nd Edition, First Print
    Release Date: June 18, 2003


    UPCOMING PRINT EDITION: Second Edition, Second Print
    Release Date: January 30, 2008

    REGULAR ISBN: 978-0-7851-1187-0 • List Price: $54.99
    VARIANT ISBN: 978-0-7851-1272-3 • List Price: $54.99

    272 Pages

    Scripted by Stan Lee

    Pencilled by John Buscema and Jack Kirby
    Introduction by Stan Lee


    "If Earth must be saved...I must do it alone!"

    And alone he would. For the first time, Marvel took a character from the growing ensemble of the Fantastic Four and cast him in his own in an epic series. And befitting the cosmic stature of the Silver Surfer, the series took the word "epic" to universe-spanning lengths - this was the first title in the Marvel Age of Comics to be a double-sized ongoing book!

    The Silver Surfer (in a handful of appearances before this series) appeared to be a creation whose influence was made up of equal parts Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The story of his introduction is now legend, but bears repeating. Stan had plotted out the Galactus storyline for Fantastic Four #48 with Jack but when Kirby handed in the pages, to his surprise there was an entirely new character! Stan wondered who this naked figure on a surfboard was and Jack's response was, "Well, a guy as powerful as Galactus has gotta have a herald, right?" The story was altered to accommodate this "Silver Surfer" and a new, wildly popular, character was born.

    Kirby intended the Surfer to be a being of pure energy, created from nothingness by Galactus. In Kirby's vision, he came from no society, no family; he was a blank slate that could walk easily into the deception of man (see, for instance, the trap Doom sets for him in FF Masterwork Vol. 6!)

    But Stan had other plans. He imagined a tragic hero, the character that would later become Norrin Radd of Zenn-La. Instead of fixing his identity as one of Galactus' creations, Stan cast him as a man drawn inevitably to be the cosmic giant's servant, sacrificing his life and his one true love, Shalla Bal, to save Zenn-La from the unsated hunger of space God. Doomed to wander the universe and never return home, his tragedy is compounded when he defies Galactus on Earth (which you can read in FF Masterworks Vol. 5). For this daring crime against his master, the Surfer is imprisoned on our planet, never again to return home or soar the spaceways.

    Through this origin, and the stories that follow, we can see Stan pushing his work to new heights. He wasn't recycling plots or letting the artist write the story here. His vision for Norrin Radd was so strong that not even the Surfer's creator could challenge it, which is why the art in this series is handled by John Buscema.

    I still have a hard time believing comic book art could be more beautiful than Buscema's Silver Surfer. Buscema reveals himself to be the perfect artistic midpoint between Jack Kirby and Neal Adams (the undisputed heavyweights of the Silver Age), combining Kirby's powerful storytelling skills with the young Adams' sense of anatomical realism. The Surfer is a lithe figure and his supple form keeps perfect balance with his soaring board. Compare Buscema's Surfer to the Kirby work in the included FF annual and you'll see the difference!

    The oversized, bi-monthly books ran upwards of 40 pages, and gave readers a hard dose of "Marvel Art & Literature" for their quarter's worth. 'Big John' had room to experiment with layout and detail. Even though there were only six issues a year during the Surfer's bi-monthly release schedule, readers got just as many pages a year as say, Amazing Spider-Man. But with one story an issue, Buscema could draw big panels, four to a page when everyone else was doing nine. The art breathes and the details are rich, the sequential art telling its' story with an expansiveness and scope never before attempted on this scale. (Small wonder that after this series you saw fewer and fewer panels in monthlies!) The art in this series (along with DC's Green Lanter/Green Arrow) does more than simply foreshadow the Bronze Age of comics, it constructs the foundations and infrastructure that would inspire the risk-takers of the 70s and give them something on which to build.

    And to make the series truly epic, Stan found inspiration from the most epic source of Western Civilization: the Bible. These may not be parables or psalms, but the Surfer is an obvious Christ figure. He is created by the hand of God (here, Galactus) and is pure of heart. He sacrifices his life to save a world. He is at peace with nature and wishes only to help those in need. Unfortunately, with each story, the Surfer is spurned, manipulated and outright attacked by humanity. The one man who shows him kindness, Al Harper, pays a terrible price for his friendship. The Surfer's views and personal dilemma also endeared him to the growing 'hippie' movement. (If you doubt the religious overtones, take a good look at the introduction of Mephisto in issue #3!) While later stories paint him to be a minor trickster, Stan sees him as no less than the devil himself! (Do you really need three guesses why we never saw a Mephisto action figure from Toy Biz?!?!?!)

    The Silver Surfer series would last only 18 issues (one more Masterwork volume to you and me) but the work here quickly became the among the most ambitious that Marvel had ever produced. Since then, Marvel has tried to relaunch the book several times. Some have met with degrees of success, and all have been different, but none have been bigger (or better, frankly), than this original run.

    -- by Jonathan Clarke aka doesitmatter, with Gormuu

    -- panel images by Gormuu

    Issues Reprinted
    Silver Surfer #1-6, FF Annual #5 backup story

    Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.


    SS #1

    SS #2

    SS #3

    SS #4

    SS #5

    SS #6

    FF Ann #5

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