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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 invented by Lee (not Kirby) when 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. He's something of a Purity Sue, due to his cosmic level of power and having a soul so pure that Mephisto, Marvel's stand-in for Satan, tried many times to corrupt him. He has become more worldly, Depending on the Writer.
This is lampshaded in the movie Crimson Tide where a fight breaks out in the galley among the men over which is the true Silver Surfer. The submarine's Executive Officer (Denzel Washington) chastises the enlisted man for getting in a fight over the issue, saying "Anyone who reads comic books knows that the Kirby Silver Surfer is the only true Silver Surfer."
The Surfer has appeared in the animated version of the Fantastic Four, the movie Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which was supposedly an adaptation of the Galactus Trilogy, and a decidedly different take on him is being shown in The Superhero Squad Show. He also starred in his own thirteen-episode cartoon in the late '90s, which was... different. (Fair warning: It ended on a massive cliffhanger.)
Tropes among all versions:
- A God Am I: When Cable went into this territory it was Surfer who had to beat him out of it.
- Alliterative Name
- 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.
- 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 it could be argued that he has returned to this state now that he is a herald of Galactus again.
- 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.
- Badass Crew: The Defenders and, on occasion, the God Squad.
- Bald of Awesome
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Probably because Nonhumans Lack Attributes.
- 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?
- 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.
- In the 1990s animated series, Galactus wiped his memory after turning Norrin Radd into his herald. The Surfer's first act was to offer Zenn-La, Norrin Radd's home planet, as Galactus's first meal. Only Galactus's earlier promise to Radd spared Zenn-La.
- Chrome Champion: Quite possibly the Trope Codifier.
- Color Character
- Cool Board
- Crowning Music of Awesome: Level 1 from the NES game named after 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.
- Deflector Shields: The Surfer can create energy shields to defend himself and his allies.
- Energy Absorption
- Eye Beams: Sometimes the Surfer uses healing eye beams instead of Healing Hands.
- Forgot About His Powers
- 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.
- Full-Frontal Assault
- Good Hurts Evil: Mephisto finds being in his presence painful due to his Incorruptible Pure Pureness.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom
- Green Lantern Ring: The Power Cosmic.
- 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
- Improbable Weapon User: You didn't think that surfboard was just for riding on, did you?
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness
- Intangible Man
- Intrigued by Humanity
- Lampshade Hanging: The Surfer's ability to hear sounds in space gets the spotlight in Marvel Comics Presents #69.
Silver Surfer: Is that a sound-- here in the vacuum where no sound can carry? It seems impossible!
- 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
- 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 just completely naked.
- Perfect Pacifist People: Zenn-La was such a society when Galactus arrived.
- Power Creep, Power Seep
- 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.
- 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.
- Sky Surfing
- Space Is an Ocean: And he rides the waves.
- 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.
- Speed Blitz: The Surfer once disabled six Ergon starships in a matter of seconds in order to protect the Impossible Man.
- Story-Breaker Power: He doesn't show up a whole lot
- Summon to Hand
- Superpower Lottery: He won them all. The Surfer is easily one of the most powerful of all mainstream superheroes; to reiterate, he possesses Class 100 Super Strength, 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; its just 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 trapped on Earth for some time after he rebelled while afterward racking up many enemies who are even more powerful than him, so it all evens out.
- Super Reflexes: In Marvel Comics Presents #1, the Surfer broke free from energy shackles in less than a nano-second before they could sap away his powers.
- 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: The Surfer's strength is at least Class 100 and can be boosted by the Power Cosmic.
- Super Weight: Level 5.
- Teleportation: Surfer can open portals to teleport himself all over the galaxy.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill
- The Messiah: Usually presented in this fashion to the point of nearly being a Crystal Dragon Jesus.
- The Worf Effect: A lot of his cameo/guest appearances often come down to this, although at times it is subverted with the Surfer coming through for the win at the last minute.
- Time Travel
- Willfully Weak