By Stan Lee & Jack Kirby (Fireside Books/Simon & Schuster 1978)
This possibly ranks as Marvel’s first ever graphic novel proper, and it’s no surprise that the old creative team supreme would reserve such treatment for their critically beloved but commercially disastrous Christ allegory from the stars.
In reworking the character for the “real-world” market place Lee and Kirby eschewed the hip and fabulous Marvel Universe continuity in favour of a stand-alone tale in many ways a prototype for the Lee/Moebius collaboration Parable nearly a decade later.
All the key elements are there. The Silver Surfer is the herald of the planet-devouring Galactus, charged with finding him worlds to eat. When he finds us, despite being appalled at our behaviour he rebels against his God and Master to save us all.
Sadly here is where it all falls apart. Despite defeating his traitorous minion, Galactus decides not to eat us after all but goes off to find his own lunch, then resolves to get the Surfer back by building him a perfect mate. Meanwhile the Surfer is trapped on Earth alternately avoiding humans and trying to become one. It’s a sorry admission to make but the story swiftly becomes a blithering mess, and the dialogue is some of the worst Lee has ever penned.
So why is this book being reviewed at all? Simple.
Comics are a visual medium, and this story comprises some of the greatest artwork ever produced by one of its greatest artists, and inked by Joe Sinnott, one of his greatest inkers. Ignore the word balloons after page 25 and just feast your eyes on graphic majesty.
© 1978 Stan Lee & Jack Kirby. All Rights Reserved.
The Silver Surfer is a Trademark of Marvel Characters Inc.