The Silver Surfer is a Marvel Comics superhero created by Jack Kirby. The character first appears in Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966), the first of a three-issue arc that fans call "The Galactus Trilogy".
Originally, Norrin Radd, a young astronomer of the planet Zenn-La, made a bargain with the cosmic entity Galactus, pledging to serve as his herald in order to save his homeworld from destruction. Imbued in return with a tiny portion of Galactus' Power Cosmic, Radd acquired great powers and a new version of his original appearance. Galactus also created for Radd a surfboard-like craft — modeled after a childhood fantasy of his — on which he would travel at speeds beyond that of light. Known from then on as the Silver Surfer, Radd began to roam the cosmos searching for new planets for Galactus to consume. When his travels finally took him to Earth, the Surfer came face-to-face with the Fantastic Four, a team of powerful superheroes that helped him to rediscover his nobility of spirit. Betraying Galactus, the Surfer saved Earth but was punished in return by being exile there.
The Silver Surfer debuted as an unplanned addition to the superhero-team comic Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966). The comic's writer-editor, Stan Lee, and its penciller and co-plotter, Jack Kirby, had by the mid-1960s developed using a collaborative technique known as the "Marvel Method": the two would discuss story ideas, Kirby would work from a brief synopsis to draw the individual scenes and plot details, and Lee would finally add the dialog and captions. When Kirby turned in his pencil art for the story, he included a new character he and Lee had not discussed. As Lee recalled in 1995, "There, in the middle of the story we had so carefully worked out, was a nut on some sort of flying surfboard". He later expanded on this, recalling, "I thought, 'Jack, this time you've gone too far'". Kirby explained that the story's agreed-upon antagonist, a god-like cosmic predator of planets named Galactus, should have some sort of herald, and that he created the surfboard "because I'm tired of drawing spaceships!" Taken by the noble features of the new character, who turned on his master to help defend Earth, Lee overcame his initial skepticism and began adding characterization. The Silver Surfer soon became a key part of the unfolding story.
Following the Surfer's debut, Lee and Kirby brought him back as a recurring guest in Fantastic Four #55-61, 72, and 74-77 (ranging Oct. 1966 - Aug. 1968). The character made his solo debut in the backup story of Fantastic Four Annual #5 (Nov. 1967).
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Links: Wikipedia: The Silver Surfer The Marvel Database Project: The Silver Marvel.com: The Silver Surfer