CoverSilver Surfer #1, Vol. 3
Published by Marvel Comics

July, 1987

"--FREE--" (That's the title, not the price)

Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Marshall Rogers
Inks: Joe Rubinstein

Colorist: Marshall Rogers
Letters: John Workman

Editor: Michael Higgens
Chief: Jim Shooter

Original Price: $1.25
Current Value: $10.00

History Behind Issue: The Silver Surfer returns with his own title by legend Steve Englehart!  The Silver Surfer also returns to the stars.

Plot: Actually, this first issue is one big flashback issue, as we enter the tale witnessing the Surfer soaring through the skies, as he is meant to be. How did he escape the barrier raised by Galactus to keep him from leaving Earth? All is revealed, and seeds for later subplots are planted. Read on, True Believer!

After a failed attempt to breach the barrier, the Surfer is hurling down to Earth when he is intercepted by the Fantastic Four. As it turns out, they’re investigating the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica (oh my, has it been there that long already?), which apparently was created by the silvery guy himself to get more energy from the cosmos (hey, that’s as good an explanation as any I’ve heard recently. Imagine the consternation at the environmental convention in Japan, though, when someone would stand up and say: “Hey, there’s this silver dude riding a surf board who’s blowing holes in the ozone layer so he can escape Earth, and, well, he’s responsible, not those great exhaustion gases :-) Reed explains that’s not the way to go, of course, but then they’re interrupted by a big bang (not the Big Bang) caused by an Elder of the Universe, the Champion, who has battled the Thing and several other powerhouses in Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7. For the trivia guys, his real name is Tryco Slatterus.

He obviously wants to kill the Surfer, but it ain’t gonna be easy, seeing as he has been imbued with the Power Cosmic and all. He hits the Champion through the ice, and then the Elder says something really weird: the Thing was his most formidable foe until he met the Surfer?!? Just before that, Ben says Champy fought the Hulk, Wonder Man, Thor, Colossus and Sasquatch, too, and he found him to be the toughest challenge? Okay, Colossus and Sasquatch are certainly not as strong as Ben, and the Hulk (though “the strongest one there is”) is of times portrayed as being on par with him, but Wonder Man and certainly Thor are gods! (Okay, Wondy is nearly a god, but I consider an ionized being as pretty god-like myself :-) Anyone who can clear this up, go to the Silver Surfer Message Board and try it, it’s lots of fun (hey, Marvelite, isn’t this a shameless plug? Hope it’s allowed...)

Anyhoo, they tussle around for a bit, and of course the Surfer wins (and Slatterus isn’t happy about it). Now we get some answers. The Skrulls had lost their shape-changing powers in the Avengers and FF annuals of that year (#14 and #19 respectively) and needed an edge to defeat their ancient enemies, the Kree. So they decided to enslave Galactus (well, that’s real logical) by capturing his herald, Nova (who was not only an Earth woman named Frankie Raye, but the Human Torch’s girlfriend, to boot). Now they want him to destroy the thousand worlds of the Kree Empire, or Nova will be killed. And why doesn’t Galactus just get her off the planet she’s been imprisoned on, you might ask (as did Shulkie). Well, because Galactus’ power is just too great: he would obliterate everything on the planet (including Nova) when using his awesome might. And that’s where the Champion (and the Surfer) comes in. He wanted to prevent Norrin Radd from reaching his master, thus rendering him unable to help Galactus. But hey, wasn’t he supposed to be trapped on this planet? So he couldn’t reach Galactus anyway, now could he? A-ha! There must be a way to escape good ol’ Earth, but which way is it? The Champion won’t tell, because that ain’t the deal, and he leaves the scene, for now, at least... And then the FF become actually useful (about time). They recall the previous attempts to breach the barrier, and we get a nice recap of the major things that happened to the Surfer since his first appearance in FF #48. You can read those things for yourself, the key element here is this: his board is a part of him, together they are one. Moreover, it’s his board that provides him with his transport through space. So it’s his board that’s preventing him from going through the barrier, since it affects only the space-time powers of the Silver Surfer, which are encased in his board. In conclusion: why not try to leave Earth’s atmosphere without the board? All this figured out by the Thing, no less! (Heh, now that made Reed sure look stupid.) And it works (naturally)! A bit of hugging and kissing and mentioning what great friends they all are, and then on to the next problem: how to get the board into outer space? That one’s easy: just rearrange its molecule structure and change it into cosmic energy, which is not deflected by the barrier (see, real simple, any fool could do it). That covers the first part of this story, now let’s fly away to Galactus, and this time, the Surfer is going to do the bargaining!

When he meets up with the boss-guy, Galactus wants to destroy him once and for all, but Norrin stops him by saying he has come to pay his debt to his master. After some explaining, Galactus answers at last, and it becomes clear that he has some kind of affection for Nova he hasn’t experienced with his former heralds (just as well, imagine a gay force of nature :) This is the deal: Surfy saves Nova from her predicament, and Galactus will leave him be. But if he fails, he will pay with his death! (Oh, real nice!) And there we go, the Silver Surfer goes at it all the way, racing as he’s never raced before, to make sure Nova is uninjured during the rescue attempt (since the entire complex will go kabloey when it notices it’s under attack). But the Skrulls won’t win, because they are prepared against an attack coming from Galactus, and the Silver Surfer is everything that Galactus is not (or else he would have gone shopping for tasty planets himself, thank you very much).

The next few pages we’re raging through Nova’s prison, comprised of a liquid that throws her own flames back at her, boiling her in the process. Luckily, his silver skin is unaffected by the heat, and he’s fast enough to outrun the explosions, so the Surfer saves the day! And Nova lives! And Galactus is one happy dude—not! He wants to wreak havoc on the Skrulls, and destroy all their worlds instead of the Kree’s. But this cannot be, so speaks the Surfer, for Galactus is a force of nature, and nature isn’t interested in personal vendettas. If he goes through with his revenge, the cosmic order will be damaged irreparably! It’s a good thing Galactus knows when to listen to his heralds, and not only does he refrain himself, he frees the Surfer of the barrier, too!
And so, the Silver Surfer is free at last...

Comments: Lets start with the good. I like both Englehart’s writing skills and Rogers’ art. Not only is Marshall a great artist, who knows how to portray the Surfer at his best,
but he’s no amateur at coloring either, and let’s not forget that in a book about space, color is still very important! In later issues, space would look really crowded, but Rogers draws a real vast version of eternity, without planets and moons and nebulas cluttering the place. Just a lot of stars (tiny white dots, like in real life) and the occasional planet suffice in my book, and Marshall does just that. The colors are crisp and fresh, the panels are never crowded, let’s just say that Marshall Rogers is
one of my favorites (although I disliked his work when I first saw it, but that was because I wasn’t used to simple storytelling—I am only collecting comics for a year-and-a-half, you know.) Rogers draws a very sleek yet powerful Surfer, which looks better to me than Lim’s later version, which got worse by the year (especially when
other artists like Grindberg started to really overdo it). His Surfer is still a bit more robust than Garney’s version (which rocks, IMHO), but that’s just fine.

The writing was solid, and there was great eye for the little details (like the Thing thinking how things would have turned out if Frankie Raye had never left Earth (that caused the Torch to fall in love with Alicia, you see, Ben’s former flame, no pun intended)). That took just one little word balloon, but it was very in character, something you don’t see very often in comics these days.

The Surfer’s strong convictions, his motives and joys were skillfully portrayed, and came over very real to me. The FF weren’t used as cheap ploys to buy the book, but were necessary to help the Surfer to escape Earth (and who better to assist than his first friends on this planet?). Galactus was written great and drawn great. I’ll admit that Lim does a better Galactus, but Rogers’ version is also pretty impressive. It’s also
very nice how Englehart lays the seeds for something more special between Nova and Galactus in this deal to completely free the Surfer. A fine mix of business and pleasure :)

A last really nice point was the recapping of the Surfer’s history. Between his first appearance in the FF, his short-lived first series, and his current series, he has been seen a lot on several occasions (as Steve Englehart himself explains at the end of the issue, which is, by the way, another plus point: I just love editorials in new series! And this one takes three issues, to boot.), and by not just ignoring it we get a greater
sense of continuity (another thing Marvel really likes screwing with, dammit).

See, lots of good stuff crammed in this comic, let’s take a look at the bad stuff...

Now for the bad... Well, nothing, really. No, really! I can’t think of anything bad in this issue. Everything is clear, everything is in character, everything looks beautiful and awe-inspiring. Nope, nothing bad there, unless maybe... well, okay, the cover wasn’t all that stunning for a first issue. The Surfer holding Nova in front of Galactus’s face isn’t my idea of a cool cover to start a series, but hey, that won’t do anything to the final score, which is...

Altogether, a rocking five out of five stars! This issue is a classic. If you have
eight spare bucks and you want to spend them on something worth it, go get

Written by The Collector


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