The Silver Surfer is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character also appears in a number of movies, television, and video game adaptations. The character was created by Jack Kirby, and first appeared in the comic book Fantastic Four #48, published in 1966. The Silver Surfer is a humanoid with metallic skin who can travel space with the aid of his surfboard-like craft. Originally a young astronomer named Norrin Radd on the planet Zenn-La, he saved his homeworld from the planet devourer, Galactus, by serving as his herald. Imbued in return with a tiny portion of Galactus's Power Cosmic, Radd acquired vast power, a new body and a surfboard-like craft on which he could travel faster than light. Now known as the Silver Surfer, Radd roamed the cosmos searching for planets for Galactus to consume. When his travels took him to Earth, he met the Fantastic Four, a team of powerful superheroes who helped him rediscover his humanity and nobility of spirit. Betraying Galactus, the Surfer saved Earth but was exiled there as punishment. In 2011, IGN ranked Silver Surfer 41st in its "Top 100 Comic Heroes" list. He was portrayed by Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne in the 2007 film Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Early appearances 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 a collaborative technique known as the "Marvel Method": the two would discuss story ideas, Kirby working from a brief synopsis to draw the individual scenes and plot details, with Lee finally adding the dialogue 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).
Following his series' cancellation, the Surfer made sporadic appearances as a guest star or antagonist in such comic books as Thor, The Defenders, and Fantastic Four. Lee remained partial to the Surfer, even asking other writers not to use him as a general rule, and with Kirby collaborated on a seminal 1978 graphic novel starring the character, the only original story featured in the Marvel Fireside Books series.
The Silver Surfer #1 (Aug. 1968). Cover art by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott. The following year, Lee launched the solo title The Silver Surfer. John Buscema was penciller for the first 17 issues of the series, with Kirby returning for the 18th and final issue. The first seven issues, which included anthological "Tales of the Watcher" backup stories, were 72-page (with advertising), 25-cent "giants", as opposed to the typical 36-page, 12-cent comics of the time. Thematically, the stories dealt with the Surfer's exile on Earth and the inhumanity of man as observed by this noble yet fallen hero. Though short-lived, the series became known as one of Lee's most thoughtful and introspective works.