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Defenders Spotlight

Defenders Spotlight: The Silver Surfer

The tragic tale of Norrin Radd, from his initial sacrifice to his upcoming role in the Defenders

By Ben Morse

On December 7, the most unorthodox team in history may be our only hope and reality’s last line of defense against insanity. Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson bring together some of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe to face an ancient evil unbound in DEFENDERS #1!

Each day this week, we’ll closely examine one of the Defenders making up this new roster, giving a detailed rundown of their personal history and pointing you to digital comics containing the seminal stories that brought them to their current states.

Before they band together to safeguard existence, get to know the heroes we need more than ever with Defenders Spotlight!

Few figures in the Marvel Universe have born more tragedy than The Silver Surfer, who has sacrificed his humanity, his love and his very freedom to safeguard the world he came from, the races he encountered and the universe itself. While his tremendous power and heartbreaking story have made the Sky-Rider of the Spaceways an understandable loner most of the time, he has found occasional comfort as part of the Defenders, and will soon join their ranks once more.

When the world eater Galactus descended upon the peaceful scientific haven of Zenn-La, Norrin Radd stepped forward and offered to become the cosmic titan’s herald in exchange for his home being spared destruction. Transformed into The Silver Surfer, Radd would leave behind his love, Shalla-Bal, and seek out planetary sustenance for his new master throughout the galaxy, not knowing his soul and conscience had been tampered with to remove potential pangs of guilt.

The Silver Surfer would eventually lead Galactus to Earth, where he battled the Fantastic Four and experienced the kindness humanity had to offer in the form of blind sculptress Alicia Masters. Turning his power on the very entity who had bestowed it, the Surfer fought alongside the FF to drive the threat away, but received the reward of being trapped on Earth for his efforts.

Struggling to understand the human race’s sometime proclivity for cruelty, the restrained Surfer fell victim to a conniving Doctor Doom, who stole the Power Cosmic until the FF could defeat him and reverse the process. While on Earth, the one-time Norrin Radd would also encounter demonic Mephisto, who desired his pure soul, and briefly reunite with Shalla-Bal only to have her once again ripped away.

Alongside Doctor Strange, The Hulk and Namor, The Silver Surfer would help found the Defenders, but did not remain with the group long, as his personal struggles consumed him. Eventually, he would escape his earthly prison with the aid of the Fantastic Four, but upon returning to Zenn-La, discovered that Shalla-Bal had become the world’s empress and could thus not renew their relationship; once again saddened but undaunted, the Surfer took to exploring the universe.

In the course of his cosmic adventures, The Silver Surfer would meet the Elders of the Universe, intervene in skirmishes between the Skrull and Kree, clash with his successors as Galactus’ heralds, including Terrax and Morg, and find love with yet another, Nova. Unfortunately, Nova would meet her demise at the axe of Morg, denying Norrin Radd love once more.

The Silver Surfer would become a frequent enemy and later tentative ally of Thanos as well as the enigmatic Adam Warlock and his Infinity Watch. Following a lengthy period wandering the stars, Norrin Radd once again encountered Galactus, weakened from an attack by the megalomaniacal Annihilus, and agreed to become his herald once more so the duo could save the universe. During this time, the Surfer also became trapped on the planet of Sakaar on two occasions, clashing first with old Defenders teammate The Hulk and later his son, Skaar.

Recently, the Surfer preceded Galactus back to Earth and the temporary home of Asgard, as his master desired sustenance from a source held by Odin that would end his hunger for a period. Thor and his allies refused to allow this to take place, and Norrin Radd would in a last ditch effort broker a deal to save Earth once more by surrendering his position as herald and again seeing his powers reduced.


The first appearance of The Silver Surfer.


How Norrin Radd became The Silver Surfer.


The Surfer’s first encounter with Mephisto.


Namor, The Hulk and The Silver Surfer team as the “Titans Three,” a proto-Defenders group.

SILVER SURFER (1987) #34

Thanos enters the Surfer’s life.


The Silver Surfer becomes caught up in the Annihilation War.


The fate of The Silver Surfer in a possible future.

Thanks for joining us this week for Defenders Spotlight, and be sure to grab DEFENDERS #1 on December 7!

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