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CSBG Archive

Five Goofiest Moments in the First Five Issues of the Silver Surfer

Every day this month will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

Today we’re looking at the Silver Surfer #1-5 by writer Stan Lee, penciler John Buscema and inkers Joe Sinnott (#1-3) and Sal Buscema (#4-5).

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Oh, Galactus, you’re so manipulative…

I like to read this scene from Silver Surfer #1 as Galactus being coy…

Passive-aggressive much, Galactus?

Easier to ask for forgiveness than permission…

In #5, Silver Surfer decides he wants to use Reed Richards’ new “space scrambler” to try to destroy the barrier that Galactus put into place to keep Surfer stuck on Earth. Only he decides that he’d rather not, you know, ASK Reed for it…

Stan Lee – pointed political pundit

I love Stan Lee’s “zingers” against the Chinese in Silver Surfer #1…

5. Surfboard or fainting couch?

I love how goofy Surfer looks at the beginning of Silver Surfer #2…

How emo does he look?

4. The Silver Overacter…

Stan Lee loved to have Surfer give big melodramatic speeches, which is fair enough, but in #1, he goes waaaay over-the-top as Buscema decides to draw Surfer as if he is trodding the boards as Hamlet…

3. What’s this device called?

In the origin of the Surfer in #1, as Galactus approaches, the people of Surfer’s planet debate using some device against Galactus. I can’t quite discern what the name of the device is…

2. Too Close for Comfort…

In #5, we get the goofy sight of Ben Grimm and Reed Richards, for some unknown reason, sharing a bathroom in the morning…

How bizarre.

1. Yetis, Stan? Yes, yetis!

So in #1, Surfer is thinking about his lot in life when suddenly, of course, he is attacked by yetis!!

How goofy is that? What makes you think that what this Surfer story needed was some yetis?!

Even best is how Lee manages to work the yetis into Surfer’s speech as a metaphor…

Each person is a yeti, in their own way.

Woah.

That’s deep!

41 Comments

So Stan Lee used Surfer as his soap box basically?

Am I weird for thinking that none of these moments are particularly goofy, especially since you’re starting with the basic concept of an immortal guy with silver skin on a space surfboard?

I think that Reed would have a difficult time shaving, and Ben would have an impossible time showering in a regular shower.

“I think that Reed would have a difficult time shaving, and Ben would have an impossible time showering in a regular shower.”

And yet, there they are.

Omar Karindu

May 6, 2011 at 5:38 am

I gotta say, Honorable mention #3 is vaguely impressive to me. How many other 1968 superhero comics would have displayed even Lee’s campy awareness of the Sino-Soviet split and the Cultural Revolution?

Thok, I thought the shared bathroom thing was goofy and hilarious, the other stuff was kinda goofy but not SO bad at least by my standards.

Regarding the extreme speechifying by the Surfer, while I think Stan’s speech was kind of long and maybe prone to excess, I think it’s the exaggerated posing drawn by Buscema that makes it look more goofy than the words alone. Like if Surfer said the exact same speech just with his hands behind his back like in the first panel and none of the gesticulating of the next two it would come off WAY better.

Brian Cronin

May 6, 2011 at 6:00 am

I gotta say, Honorable mention #3 is vaguely impressive to me. How many other 1968 superhero comics would have displayed even Lee’s campy awareness of the Sino-Soviet split and the Cultural Revolution?

Yeah, it definitely is impressive. Campy, but impressive!

Not just Yetis… loincloth-wearing Yetis!

Brian Cronin

May 6, 2011 at 6:03 am

Not just Yetis… loincloth-wearing Yetis!

Likely some inspired missionary’s work! Right before the Yetis ate him.

Pure, unadulterated Stan Lee. Ridiculous and awesome.

Surfy took his giant phallic “space scrambler” (so THAT’S what he calls it!) and went looking for some “cleavage”. What’s goofy about that?

intersting to see even the silver surfer can wind up with moments that one would find goofy plus why in some of these pickes the silver surfer is blue a color goof up?

Not just Yetis… loincloth-wearing Yetis!

I missed the loincloths the first time around. Yeah, that is super goofy!

Mike Loughlin

May 6, 2011 at 7:01 am

Yeah, all those moments are goofy, but I’m too busy looking at that amazing John Buscema (& friends) art. Kirby-esque without sacrificing Buscema’s individual style and strengths.

Brian Cronin

May 6, 2011 at 7:05 am

Yeah, this was brilliant Buscema work. #4, in particular, with the Thor/Surfer fight, is simply amazing.

Hey, Stan Lee, get your personal politics out of my comic books!

Cultural revolution? The Kremlin? I read comic books to escape this horrible stuff!

These “modern” writers are destroying superhero comic books, I tell you.

I think that #5, the reclinging Surfer with his hand dangling to the left with slight crooked index finger, is an evocation of the Michelangelo Cistene chapel art. An allusion used to put a high-art spin on the comic. I would call it pretentious rather than emo.

Brian Cronin

May 6, 2011 at 8:03 am

I would call it pretentious rather than emo.

It’s the combination of the art and the dialogue that really makes it emo.

Honourable mention #3 was also a great dig against Brezhnev, a Soviet leader famous for ignoring the problems of the Soviet economy and having giant eyebrows.

COME ON. You’re telling me the issue where the Surfer and Mephisto are walking around New York, each of them disguised in trenchcoats (with the Surfer carrying his board!!) and Mephisto being astounded no one recognizes him didn’t make the cut?? I looked explicitly for that one here!! =)

Okay, first let me say that I read these when they first came out and loved Stan’s over-the-top writing — no one did or does overwrought dialogue like Stan Lee (although, curiously, Kirby’s Fourth World dialogue with its “determined” overuse of “quotes” was right up there with him).

However — having said that — was I the only one who “heard” the soliloquy in #4 (“Possessed of rainfall in great abundance…”, etc.) being delivered by William Shatner? I think that it was the… pregnant pauses… from all of those ellipses that did it.

Damn! Now I really wish that they’d hired Shatner to do the voice for the Surfer in the FF movie or in the cartoon series!.

The Baxter Building, so big, has only one bathroom? What a lousy architet!!

Pedro Bouça

May 6, 2011 at 9:32 am

Overwrought dialog and all, those are GREAT comics!

And, for my money, John Buscema is still the best Silver Surfer artist. And I’m a huge Kirby and Moebius fan!

It’s later in the run, but the Surfer at one point did the standard Marvel trenchcoat, hat and sunglasses thing and RODE THE SUBWAY! Now THAT’s goofy!

Brian Cronin

May 6, 2011 at 9:49 am

COME ON. You’re telling me the issue where the Surfer and Mephisto are walking around New York, each of them disguised in trenchcoats (with the Surfer carrying his board!!) and Mephisto being astounded no one recognizes him didn’t make the cut?? I looked explicitly for that one here!! =)

While silly, people wearing trenchcoats and not being recognized was a well-established convention in Marvel Comics by this time (Thing did it all the time), so I didn’t think it was worth pointing out on its own.

Hmm, I had no idea it was Galactus who hinted the herald thing, I always thought it was Norrin’s idea. It makes more sense this way though.

Why exactly was the Surfer in such a hurry to break the barrier that he couldn’t stop to borrow the device? If he had been dying at the moment or something, maybe, but that was not the case. (Btw what did happen when he used the thing?)

You know, it occurs to me that, as goofy as it ended up sounding, Stan was trying to get the kids interested in stuff such as world politics or Shakespeare, things that most of them wouldn’t touch with a pole at that age. In fact, as inappropriate as Surfer’s mode of speech seems here, it impressed me as a kid because it made him sound deep, so obviously he MUST be deep! Now, of course, it just sounds annoying to me, but back then it made Surfey stand out among the other heroes just as The Thing’s Brooklyn accent made him.

(And I have a feeling Buscema was homaging classical acting on purpose. But hey, great art!)

The problem I have with the meteor shower is how, despite obviously being awake, Surfer doesn’t even seem to NOTICE them! Doesn’t he have cosmic senses or something?

Also: If Zenn-la was supposed to be *so* much better than us poor warlike humans (as Surfey never ceased to reminds us) then WHY do they have a weapon supreme (excuse me, a WEAPON SUPREME) in the first place?

What’s so weird about Reed and Ben being in the bathroom together? Yeesh, people see sexual subtexts everywhere these days. It isn’t like they were showering *together!* Maybe they were in a hurry to get somewhere and their base only had one bathroom? (Knowing Reed, he probably planned for everything EXCEPT that.)

What I like about the Yeti attack is how Silver knew about them and their habits despite having been on earth what, a few weeks at most by the time? If he had time to research them, he could also LEARN ABOUT HUMAN HISTORY and find out that no, we’re not all bastards!

And finally, I agree with that the Mephisto-in-New-York scene should be listed too. It sounds hilarious!

Y’know, I don’t mean to knock Buscema’s talents, but those panels in which the Surfer “borrows” Reed’s space scrambler to escape from Earth don’t exactly make it look like he’s even in Earth’s upper atmosphere. It looks like he’s already gotten out of the Big G’s barrier.

Not being recognized while wearing a hat and trench coat: Well, we are talking about comics here. Guys in half masks (Batman, Daredevil, Captain America, etc) and domino masks (Robin, Green Arrow, Bucky, etc) go around without being recognized all the time. Obviously, people in comic book world have poor pattern recognition abilities.

I figure Reed probably got rid of all but one of the bathrooms in the Baxter Building to make room for more lab equipment.

Is it just me or does the Russian Commissar look like a “Red Son” version of Ronald Reagan?

Oh, yeah. The Magic Marvel Stealth Trenchcoat. Much like the Scarf & Sunglasses. “Don’t look at me! I’m in disguise!”

I read these off the rack when I was ten. Turned me into a hippie, they did. They weren’t easy to find. My first three go-to 7-11s didn’t usually carry anything that was over-sized or priced differently. I never did get #3.

I want some of what Stan was smoking. (Scotch?)

And Silver Surfer #4 is in my Top Ten Best Single Issues Ever.

These are really, really good comics – their goofiness just makes them better!

While reading the #1 moment, my mind drew a parallel to the scene in the aborted Superman movie where Braniac is attacked outside the Fortress of Solitude by the Fortress’ guard-wolves. I’m pretty sure the Superman script is written by someone who has never read a comic before, but that’s a pretty odd parallel, nonetheless.

The 4th place one is goofier if you include the panel immediately before, where he says, “In all the galaxies, in all the endless reaches of space, I have found no planet more blessed than this… [etc.]. So the Silver Surfer thinks the Earth is particularly blessed because, among other reasons, it has a sun?!? Maybe Galactus didn’t exile Norrin because of the betrayal. Maybe he was trying to let Norrin off easy because he realized that Norrin couldn’t grasp basic astronomy.

Is it just me or does it look like that bathroom counter barely reaches Reed’s knee?

The perspective in that room just seems off.

Every comic needs more Yetis.

I have a copy of Essential Silver Surfer vol 1. The artwork is generally fantastic (you would never have guessed John Buscema did not really enjoy drawing superheroes from these issues), the plots are interesting, and the dialogue… is waaaaaaay over the top. I realize that Stan Lee was attempting to write deep, meaningful commentary about humanity and our prejudices and tendency to react with violence. But he really overplayed it with his scripting, making pretty much every single human character sound like a frothing-at-the-mouth xenophobic nutcase.

Looking at the Surfer’s dialogue in a lot of those issues reminds me of a snarky comment from an episode of Family Guy : “Tell me, is it lonely up there on your pedestal?”

kisskissbangbang

May 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Brian, I’m with Thok. None of these moments seems particularly goofy to me. Yetis with loincloths are a bit strange, but what would the Comics Code have said if they weren’t wearing them? Reed & Ben’s bathroom scene comes closest, as a standard Marvel daily-life-with-superheroes-just before-the-action-starts scene that hasn’t been thought through; but it’s not goofy the way Reed fooling the Skrulls (in #2) with comics panels they think are real is goofy. And the Surfer stealing the device from the FF, rather than asking for it, is out of character (although it was early days in their relationship), but it’s not goofy in my book. And even if you think Stan’s monologue is over the top (sounds more like a tribute to Shakespeare’s “this blessed plot, this realm, this earth, this England” speech to me), how does that equate to goofy? We’ll have to disagree on this one.

Always great seeing pages from this series, though. Why don’t you show us some more of issue 4 someday, just because? Just show us that cover….so beautiful even Stan couldn’t bear to cover it with blurbs.

Silver Surfer’s dialogue as translated by Stan Lee reflected the sentiment of a lot of youth in the 60’s and 70’s, especially w/ the VIETNAM WAR looming over their futures. If you wanted the other perspective- there was always “Thunderbolt” Ross, J.J.J., Nick Fury, or Tony Stark-Merchant of Death. Still remember when Cap and the Falcon unmasked some world-beater and found Richard Nixon. Steve E. ruled. Some may say they don’t like politics mixed in w/ their comics. Politics are inescapable and I suggest if you like “My country-Right or Wrong” plotlines, you check out the 40’s comics. Much simpler times.

Just reread the first four issues of the Surfer’s original series. It’s not so much the goofy moments that put me off as Norrin Radd/ Surfer’s personality. He moans that Zenn-La is boring and unchallenging… then goes to somewhere with conflict, etc. (Earth) and STILL moans! Make you mind up, fer Pete’s sake! He also seems incredibly negative: when he visits an Alpine village he only notices the hostility and seems unaware of the lone old guy asking for understanding and patience. SS zooms off before anyone has a chance to consider the old guy’s words, thereby making sure that Surfie’s negativity remains unchanged! Closed mind or what?

The art is lovely, some of Big John’s best work in my opinion, and issue #4 is a classic in big letters and tinsel but it’s too fraught. I love Stan, I really, do, but I already know the world is a mess, don’t keep going on about it.

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