I thought I knew emo superheroes. I’ve seen Batman brood, Daredevil has had plenty of dark moments, and I don’t think anyone can forget that sequence in Spider-Man 3 when Peter Parker was emo-fied. I thought I understood, but then I met the Silver Surfer:
I just read the word balloons as saying “I have an extreme case of ennui.” Look at the pose, for pity’s sake. And pity is what comes to mind when I think of the Silver Surfer. Okay, pity and a strong feeling of wanting to slap him around.
This isn’t the only first page featuring our hero in a woeful state.
The reluctant hero is trapped on Earth and often in a state of despair. And by often, I mean all the time when he isn’t fighting bad guys. It’s interesting. I read his origin story with rapt attention. Before the Surfer was a silver being wearing matching whitey tighties, he was a man frustrated with the way his world had become complacent. Norrin Radd was over it and despite having a great love for his lady Shalla-Bal, he wanted to adventure. To roam the galaxy at large.
He came to the opportunity in an unexpected way; well really, it came to him. Galactus arrived to his planet, Zenn-La, hungry as ever. Radd sacrificed himself in order to save his world. He promised to be the herald of Galactus; he could seek out new life and new civilizations… wait, that’s something else. He could find worlds void of life for Galactus to consume. This act was partially for his planet, sure, but I think his desire to explore the universe played a big part in his decision.
So Galactus transformed him. Note the very technical phrase “silvery substance.”
The Silver Surfer loved the thrills of his new life. But. It came crashing down around him when Galactus insisted on having Earth as his second breakfast. The Silver Surfer knew he had to put his foot down and save the populous planet. He defied his master. However, even with help from the Fantastic Four, Galactus survived. He stripped the Silver Surfer of his time-space powers and thus banished him to Earth and the surrounding space. He had no way of going home.
That’s a bad day. I get it. Take some time, mourn about the fact that you can never leave, and set about making a life for yourself. Or not. Instead the Silver Surfer becomes a desperately lonely creature who reluctantly fights the bad guys. He helps Earth repeatedly but only because he seems to feel like it’s his duty. Sometimes it’s because the foe might possess technology that will help him get home.
I can’t wrap my head around how much he doesn’t want to be here. When he’s not sitting on a rock in space contemplating his sadness, he’s being frustrated by the negative aspects of humanity. He has to resist teaching us painful lessons, and he doesn’t always successfully restrain himself.
I see his point. When he tries to walk amongst people, he only meets fear and ridicule. When he tries to use his cosmic powers to help, people think he’s trying to destroy them. He’s treated much the same way as the X-Men. He’s shunned by society and told to buy clothes to hide his unusual form. It’s not a happy place to be especially when you gave up so much to save a bunch a planet full of ungrateful life forms. It sucks.
Yet, that’s as far as my understanding goes. I would think there has to be a point at which any being in the Silver Surfer’s lack of shoes would get past the way some humans act. The Surfer has seen untold universes and planets and stars and seen all types of life. Why doesn’t he realize that there are always a mix of good and bad people everywhere?
His perpetual heartbreak is a turn off to me as a reader. I want him to have more moments when he likes Earth and its people rather than tolerating it. It seems to me that he should be capable of setting aside his deep feelings of bitterness and embrace a life here, and maybe he does after the first six issues. I certainly hope so.
And if he hasn’t… you know what the Silver Surfer needs? Cats. Plural. Maybe Hellboy could give him some.