Alter Ego: Norrin Radd
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966)
Silver Surfer: It is not a surfboard. It is—There is a human phrase that covers it. "Form follows function." I need no air, no food, no water. I do not need a ship to sustain me. I need only something that will carry me where I must go.
This Marvel Comics character is the Herald of Galactus the Planet Eater, imbued with the "Power Cosmic". He is silver and rides a surfboard through space. Created by Jack Kirby in 1966, the Silver Surfer has a somewhat controversial origin as he first appeared in the Fantastic Four series (during the "Galactus Trilogy") and was thus assumed to have been co-created with series writer Stan Lee. However, Lee later admitted that Kirby added the character to the story on his own. Kirby felt that a being like Galactus should have a special herald to represent him. However, the Surfer's origin was concieved by Lee (not Kirby) once the character got his own series.
In the Trilogy, the Surfer finds Earth (despite Uatu The Watcher's attempt to hide it from him) and signals Galactus to come devour the planet. The Surfer is then knocked out by the Fantastic Four, but is nursed to health by their kind ally, Alicia Masters. This causes him to decide to protect Earth and joins the heroes in opposing his master. Galactus is then forced to swear not to try to eat the Earth when his own greatest weapon is pointed at him. However, Galactus punishes the Surfer by sealing him within Earth's atmosphere, unable to return to space. The Surfer then becomes a wandering hero. He also helped to found the superhero group The Defenders.
The character proved popular enough to receive his own series (twice). In the first, it was revealed that he was originally Norrin Radd, a man from the planet Zenn-La. He became Galactus' herald in exchange for his sparing Zenn-La from being eaten. However, Galactus decided to seal away the Surfer's emotions after transforming him, to keep them from interfering with his mission, until Alicia reawakened them. In the second series, the Surfer was freed to return to space, where most of his new adventures took place.
The Surfer is still popular and occasionally shows up in other Marvel series. Despite his cosmic level of power and having a soul so pure that Mephisto, Marvel's stand-in for (the Christian version of) Satan, tried many times to corrupt him, he has become more worldly, Depending on the Writer.
A new comic series by Dan Slott launched in 2014. It involves the Surfer traveling the spaceways with an earth girl named Dawn Greenwood, whose fate becomes entwined with his.
Then there was Donny Cates's more recent miniseries with him coming out of his run using the character: Silver Surfer Black. Where Norin gets sent to the start of the universe to battle cosmic forces and the darkness within himself. Emerging alive, but now a darkened non-silver version of himself.
Besides Fantastic Four and his own comic book line, the Surfer has appeared in:
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which was supposedly an adaptation of the Galactus Trilogy.
- Silver Surfer, a notoriously hard sidescroller released in 1990.
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, an entry in Traveller's Tales LEGO franchise
- Marvel Heroes
- The 1967 and 1994 animated adaptations of the Fantastic Four.
- Silver Surfer, his own thirteen-episode cartoon in the late '90s. (Fair warning: It ended on a massive cliffhanger.)
- The Super Hero Squad Show, which is a decidedly different take on him.
Tropes among all versions:
- Alliterative Name: Silver Surfer.
- Amplifier Artifact: The surfboard lets him fly farther and generally be stronger than without it, though (depending on continuity) it isn't the source of his powers. Mostly he uses it to accelerate FTL without exhausting too much of his own power.
- Anti-Hero: While stuck on Earth in the 60s, he had these moments, often fighting with fellow heroes due to generally being pissed off, as opposed to the usual mistaken-identity excuse.
- Anti-Villain: Started off as this and arguably returned to it when he briefly became a herald of Galactus again.
- Appropriated Appellation: The Board's name, Toomie. It comes from Dawn Greenwood mishearing Norrin using his catchphrase "To me, my Board". She thought Toomie was the Board's name, so now, that is its name.
- Arch-Enemy: Thanos and Mephisto; at least, they come closest. Galactus is a debatable example too. All three are far, far more powerful than him though, so its not your standard Arch-Enemy situation and he rarely fights them directly or on his own, and would quickly lose if he tried.
- Astral Projection: Usually comes into play when Surfer is facing off against Mephisto.
- Badass Boast: Rare, but the Surfer has delivered a few over the years.Silver Surfer: Your ability to manipulate power is formidable. That I will admit. But I AM power.
Nova: Surfer! The Revengers are the enemies' big guns.Silver Surfer: Interesting.Surfer takes down the Revengers versions of Thor and Iron Man with one attack each.Silver Surfer: When we next have a quiet moment, Richard Rider, we can discuss the definition of the term.
- Recently Surfer has become fond of more deadpan trash talk to remind people that he's one of the strongest heroes in the universe.
- Badass Crew: The Defenders and, on occasion, the God Squad.
- Bald of Awesome: Silver bald of awesome in this case even.
- Barrier Warrior: The Surfer can create energy shields to defend himself and his allies.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: And talk in space, too. Justified since he doesn't actually need to breathe or use sound to communicate; Power Cosmic, remember?
- Berserk Button: Did not like being a Herald of Galactus so anytime Galactus summons him as his most reliable herald during a crisis is one of the few times he gets extremely angry and needs to be talked down.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Yes, he's incorruptible, but remember his Power Cosmic? If he wanted to, he could disintegrate reality. Really, does that sound like the sort of guy you'd want mad at you?
- Brainwashed: During Planet Hulk Surfer is weakened by a wormhole, brainwashed, and has a Restraining Bolt placed on him in order to have him fight in gladiatorial battles.
- Bullying a Dragon: Because he looks inhuman (and possibly because he nearly let Galactus eat Earth), in the early days people kept trying to attack him, and generally insulting him. Apparently, the fact that he's a borderline Reality Warper (and EXTREMELY dangerous when angered) never occurred to them.
- Chrome Champion: Quite possibly the Trope Codifier.
- Color Character: Silver Surfer.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Frequently wears one of these as a disguise during his Silver Age series, much like the Thing.
- Cool Board: It flies, is faster than light and can even be used as a weapon or shield. Plus, it is controlled via his mind. Yup, cool indeed. In his 2016 solo it becomes a kind of Non-Human Sidekick, capable of silently expressing its thoughts using the reflection of whoever is looking at it.
- Cutting the Knot: This trope was responsible for finally freeing the Surfer from Earth permanently; Ben Grimm suggesting that the Surfer try leaving Earth without using his board. To the Surfer, the very thought of travelling without his board is so unthinkable that both he and Reed Richards were stunned that there was a simple solution to the exile all this time and neither of them ever realized it. To put it to the test, the Four transported the Surfer in their spacecraft off the planet with his board left back on the ground and they discovered that was indeed all they needed to do. As for the board, The Surfer simply remotely converted it to a mass of energy unaffected by the barrier and called it to him to be reassembled as the board back in space.
- Decomposite Character: There are two unrelated version of the Silver Surfer in the Ultimate Marvel universe. On one side we have the "Silver Wings" in the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy, who work for Gah Lak Tus. They have his appearance and powers, but are largely just fight drones and do not seem to have a will of their own (so, no betrayal here). And, in Ultimate Fantastic Four, we met the Silver Searcher, with a similar personality to the Surfer, except that he used to work for the Psycho Man.
- Depending on the Writer: Reportedly, this was one of the bigger divisions between Lee and Kirby: Kirby preferred the idea of the Surfer as a weird and inhuman Sufficiently Advanced Alien, while Lee wrote him as a deeply emotional and kindhearted sort. As Kirby was technically the Surfer's true creator, this rubbed him the wrong way.
- Doctor Whomage: During the Slott/Allred run, he is depicted as basically the Marvel Universe version of the Doctor, complete with hero-worshipping contemporary-Earth everywoman companion.
- Does Not Like Shoes: As a part of his Full-Frontal Assault-ness. Weirdly, he doesn't seem to have any toes, his feet being shaped like boots.
- Energy Absorption: To a very high degree. Goes as far as depowering people; he can also redirect it.
- Even More Omnipotent: Whenever the Silver Surfer rebels against his creator, Galactus, Galactus just No Sells his attacks or strips him of his power. Or when any being he bequeathed with the Power Cosmic tries the same, for that matter. Galactus is able to take back their powers at will or override any actions they attempt to take.
- Eye Beams: Sometimes the Surfer uses healing eye beams instead of Healing Hands.
- Fad Super: It's downplayed to the point a lot of people don't even realize it, but the idea of a cosmic-powered surfboard rider has at least something to do with the fact that surfing was hugely popular during the 60s. The complete lack of surfer slang or other Surfer Dude characteristics, combined with his stories focusing on being either an outsider on earth or cosmic adventuring, helped him survive the usual fate of the Fad Super.
- Flying Brick: A strange example since he normally flies via his surfboard and while he is super strong, he doesn't engage in fisticuffs as often as other bricks.
- Flying Firepower: As a former herald of Galactus, Norrin Radd is nigh-omnipotent. On his own, he can fly at warp speeds and fire devastatingly powerful energy blasts. But that's only the tip of the iceberg.
- Forgot About His Powers: The Power Cosmic allows Silver Surfer to manipulate both matter and energy, time and space, and often times he simply chooses to solve a problem by hitting it with cosmic blasts. When someone like Doctor Doom stole his powers, he froze tropical islands, drained London of its power, resurrected dinosaurs, and killed the Fantastic Four (only to resurrect them on a whim).
- Full-Frontal Assault: Silver Surfer is always naked, although he doesn't possess any visible genitals. A planet-devouring cosmic entity probably doesn't see any need to give his servants the ability to procreate sexually. Certain artists will occasionally give him a silvery Speedo, but that's it.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: When he is pissed off.
- A God Am I: When Cable went into this territory it was Surfer who had to beat him out of it.
- Good Hurts Evil: Mephisto finds being in his presence painful due to his Incorruptible Pure Pureness.
- Green Lantern Ring: The Power Cosmic, which allows him to do... pretty much anything, really.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: He and Dawn and everyone from Newhaven got stuck in one of those due to an enemy superweapon.
- Healing Hands: Surfer can use the Power Cosmic to heal through contact. Healing very extensive injuries on someone can leave him weakened for a while afterwards, though.
- I Am Not The Herald Of Galactus: His defining characteristic is his determination to assert himself as something more than Galactus' slave.
- I'm Cold... So Cold...: Justified in the second series, when Frankie Raye, a fire elemental, is fatally injured. Her flame then starts to dwindle before dying out.
- Improbable Weapon User: You didn't think that surfboard was just for riding on, did you?
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Mephisto once hurt himself by trying to take him over because he is so pure and good.
- Intangible Man: One of his many powers is phasing through solid matter.
- Intrigued by Humanity: In many stories he refers to Earth as his adopted home.
- The Migration: Surfer helps the inhabitants of Newhaven, comprised entirely of refugees from worlds destroyed by Galactus, to do this after History repeats itself. It takes a while.
- Mole in Charge: In the early-nineties run of Silver Surfer, there was a running subplot of a Skrull permanently disguised as a Kree woman who worked her way up the social ladder so eventually she was the right-hand woman to the Supreme Intelligence, and when it got disabled, she was effectively empress. At that point she decided she kinda liked power and did not call off the Kree battlefleets about to engage the Skrull armada.
- Monster Modesty: Norrin ran around in silver underwear in his earlier appearances. He has now been reduced to Nonhumans Lack Attributes although the occasional artist might slap a pair of undies on every now and then.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: With his Cosmic Awareness, the Surfer can sense major events throughout the galaxy just before they happen. On a smaller scale, the power has been used to find hidden doors, detect weaknesses in beings like Gladiator, and assist in guiding the Surfer though the galaxy.
- The Needless: He doesn't require any sort of sustenance (such as air or food) in order to live.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Justified, given the undefined nature of the Power Cosmic and the various power boosts the Surfer has received over the years.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: From punches by Class 100 character to black holes, he has survived a considerable amount of damage unharmed.
- Nude-Colored Clothes: During the Silver Age he wore nothing but a pair of underwear that was the same color as his skin. These days, he's usually completely naked, but the underwear still shows up from time to time.
- Perfect Pacifist People: Zenn-La was such a society when Galactus arrived.
- Physical God: Allthough he, like his master, often suffers The Worf Effect, he is (or should be) one of the most powerful characters of the Marvel Universe, if not comic books in general.
- Power Creep, Power Seep: Just like his master, he has fallen victim to this a lot. Especially his vast speed is often glossed over.
- Psychic Powers: Telepathy, Empathy, Telekinesis, others.
- Pulling Themselves Together: In the rare event that the Surfer's body is cut into pieces, he can reconstitute himself in seconds.
- Reality Warping: He doesn't use them that often, though, at least compared to his other powers.
- Redemption Demotion: Averted. When he went from a villain to a hero, he continued to be quite powerful.
- Repeat Index Index: Has the Silver Surfer mentioned that he has the Power Cosmic? Because he does.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: The Surfer's Cosmic Awareness allows him to detect powerful energy concentrations "anywhere in the cosmos." Combined with his Super Senses and ability to teleport to any dimension he has previously visited, it is almost impossible to hide from the Surfer.Silver Surfer: Fools. Eyes that can track a single dust mote across the space ways will certainly have no difficulty tracing the path of a Troyjan battle cruiser.
- Seeks Another's Resurrection: At some point after Frankie Raye's death, the Surfer came upon a young girl that resembled her in Nevada named Frances Hyatt, and imbued her with a portion of Frankie's soul in an apparent attempt to have some part of her live on. Years later an incident causes her to be united with Nova's Power Cosmic, and she has reluctantly become Supernova.
- Shapeshifting: One of his many powers, though he rarely uses it. In the 2012 Defenders series he's introduced having spent some time as snowfall. There he's treated less like a silver coated man and more like the T-1000.
- A musical one, no less - he's the alien in the Joe Satriani album title and song Surfing With The Alien.
- Ron Marz returned the favor by naming the planet Shalla-Bal relocated to "Planet Satriani."
- Silver Has Mystic Powers: Subverted by the Silver Surfer. He does look shiny and can easily survive in the vacuum of space or walk across stars, but this isn't anything inherent to his outer shell, instead coming from the Power Cosmic bestowed on him by his former master Galactus. The Devourer of Worlds has had many other servants with identical abilities to the Surfer, but most of them weren't even silvery.
- Sky Surfing: Space-surfing, natch.
- Space Is an Ocean: And he rides the waves.
- Space "X": In response to Dawn asking him why did the Giraud Expanse aliens speak french, he retorted that the two languages only sound alike. It's actually Space-french.
- Speed Blitz: The Surfer once disabled six Ergon starships in a matter of seconds in order to protect the Impossible Man.
- Status Quo Is God: After many decades being on his own, during the events of Annihilation, he returns to being Galactus' herald.
- After a recent Thor storyline, the Surfer at the request of Galactus is now stationed on Earth... again.
- Story-Breaker Power: He's extremely difficult to harm and strong enough to destroy planets. Consequently he doesn't show up a whole lot.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Zenn-Lavians are a highly advanced society. Advanced enough to combine mysticism and technology to remove and replace another planet's culture with their own as a form of colonization.
- Summon to Hand: Along with his catch phrase "To me, my board!"
- Superheroes in Space: Once his exhile on Earth was lifted, he took to superheroing in space.
- Superpower Lottery: The Silver Surfer hit the jackpot. He is easily one of the most powerful of all mainstream superheroes; to reiterate, he possesses Class 100 Super Strengthnote , faster-than-light Super Speed, energy blasts, Energy Absorption, Nigh-Invulnerability, Psychic Powers, and even a degree of Reality Warping, not to mention Cosmic Awareneness, which basically lets him sense absolutely any kind of energy, anywhere, and he needs neither food, drink, nor air to live (he doesn't even need the board to fly; it just lets him fly longer without wasting energy; that and Rule of Cool). Doctor Doom has used his powers to Take Over the World, defeating every single other Earth-bound Marvel hero who got in his way in the process. Of course, he was the puppet of Galactus for years and was trapped on Earth for some time after he rebelled, and afterward racked up many enemies who are even more powerful than him, so it all evens out.
- Super Senses: In Incredible Hulk #415, the Surfer could "detect the whistling of a meteorite a thousand light years away." Using his "far ranging vision", the Surfer could see Thanos from "more than a light year away" in Infinity Gauntlet #3.
- Super Speed: The Surfer searched the entire surface of the Earth in seconds in Silver Surfer Annual #5. In space he regular travels many times faster than the speed of light, too.
- Super Strength: Even though he rarely uses his fists to fight, he is extremely strong and can additionally amp himself with the Power Cosmic. He once for example took down the Super Skrull with a single punch. And in Planet Hulk, while in a weakened state, he utterly dominated the fight against Hulk (who was also weakened, granted) and his entire Warbound with nothing more than his physical strength.
- Super Weight: Level 5.
- Teleportation: Surfer can open portals to teleport himself all over the galaxy.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Sometimes, though especially after Annihilation, he has become more ruthless and discounted this.
- Time Travel: On pure speed alone, mind you.
- Unbuilt Trope: Surfer's one of the earliest and most iconic examples of a Fad Super, having been created partly due to the fact that surfing was very popular in the 1960s. But this is downplayed to the point of being very easy to miss. The complete lack of surfer slang or other Surfer Dude characteristics, combined with his stories focusing on being either an outsider on earth or cosmic adventuring, make him seem very different from the majority of the trope's later examples (and also probably helped to give him more staying power than most). It's also played with a good deal: he's an alien who never knew anything about surfing (the Human Torch gave him that name) and the board is actually just an extension of himself he uses to fly through space and not technically a surfboard. Even now, it's still rare for a Fad Super to be (initially) unaware of what they were created to cash in on, only seeming like they're following a trend due to coincidence.
- Willfully Weak: He often doesn't want to fight at his best because he is peaceful at heart. Might be one of the explanations for some of his losses.
- The Worf Effect: Like Galactus, a lot of his cameo/guest appearances often come down to this. Although he doesn't always lose, simply being able to smack around the Silver Surfer is enough to establish a threat. In particular, The Infinity Gauntlet starts off with him crashing defeated through the roof of the Sanctum Sanctorum after encountering Thanos with the full might of Infinity Gauntlet.
- Worthy Opponent:
- Thor, with whom he has clashed several times and still maintains a respectful relationship.
- In the Darkseid/Galactus crossover, Surfer was so impressed by Orion's courage, he managed to delay the Black Racer long enough to allow Mother Box to prevent him from dying. In exchange, Orion saluted Silver Surfer and left, returning the compliment.
- Wowing Cthulhu: Silver Surfer's Origin Story involves a civilian named Norrin Radd impressing Galactus, a Planet Eater, with his devotion to his home planet, Zen-Laa. Galactus spares Radd's planet in exchange for him becoming Galactus's herald.