In Silver Surfer #3, an apocalyptic tantrum saw Norrin Radd prove he’s not really a superhero at all – he’s a god humanity had better not anger.
The Silver Surfer‘s apocalyptic temper tantrum proved he’s really a god, not just a superhero, in Marvel Comics. Empowered by Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, for years Norrin Radd served as his herald – guiding his master to worlds he could consume to sate his hunger. The Silver Surfer rebelled when he arrived on Earth, believing humanity to be worth saving because of its capacity for goodness and love. In response, for a time Galactus imprisoned the Silver Surfer on Earth.
Earth has been home to countless superheroes over the decades. Some are noted for their heroism and nobility – think the Avengers or the Fantastic Four. Some are motivated by a personal ethos, such as Spider-Man’s belief in power and responsibility, while others like the Punisher are driven by insane vendettas. But humanity struggled to figure out how to deal with the Sentinel of the Skyways, whose character and nature proved so very different to their own.
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The point was best stressed in 1968’s Silver Surfer #3, by Stan Lee and John Buscema. The comic opened with the Silver Surfer visiting a woman in hospital, intent on healing her with the Power Cosmic; the police opposed him, but he acted nonetheless, saving her with what he described as a “cosmic powerbolt.” In response, a police officer opened fire on the Silver Surfer, who protected himself before leaving. Then – in a dramatic and unprecedented escalation – the Silver Surfer decided to teach humanity a lesson. He released an all-enveloping series of cosmic bursts across the globe; they seemed to act in the same way as an electromagnetic pulse, causing all machines to fail. Power generators shut down, and the world was plunged into darkness. Airports were shut down, with traffic controllers unable to communicate with the now-powerless aircraft in the skies. In Russia, a Sputnick rocket failed to launch. In space, one astronaut looked down at the world, his communications suddenly cut off, and stared in shock at the pulses of cosmic energy he could see sweeping over the planet.
There’s a spectacular irony to the Silver Surfer’s actions. He seems to think he’s teaching humanity a lesson; in reality, only a couple of police officers even know they’ve just had a confrontation with the Silver Surfer. As far as the majority of the human race is concerned, all power across the planet mysteriously shut down for a brief period before being restored when the Silver Surfer’s temper cooled. Let’s face it; these aren’t the actions of a typical superhero. They’re the actions of a god – and a rather unpredictable one at that.
Marvel’s sliding timeline adds another layer of complexity to all this. The Silver Surfer’s temper tantrum was apocalyptic enough in 1968, but because the timeline has moved, it now probably happened in the early 2000s – when the world was a lot more dependent on technology, meaning the impact would have been even greater. Suffice to say humanity had good reason to be grateful when Galactus’ barrier was lifted and the Silver Surfer left the planet.
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About The Author Thomas Bacon (4847 Articles Published)
Tom Bacon is one of Screen Rant’s staff writers, as well as a Peer Mentor for new writers and a member of the Care Team, offering support and a listening ear to members of the Comics group. A lifelong fan of major franchises including Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Marvel, Tom is delighted his childhood is back – and this time it’s cool. You can find him on Twitter @TomABacon. A graduate of Edge Hill University, Tom remains strongly connected with his alma mater as a volunteer chaplain. He’s heavily involved with his local church, and anyone who checks him out on Twitter will swiftly learn he’s into British politics too.