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The Silver Hero: Epic Or Just Super?

2607 words - 10 pages

The Silver Surfer narrative, while distinctly unique in its structure, depicts the Silver Surfer as an epic hero and, in doing so, also fits the more specific format of the literary epic. At times, the comic book series has the characteristics of both an allegorical tale and a morally edifying plot progression. The origin-story of the Silver Surfer expresses a distinct hierarchy of ethical values (Gabilliet 207), and lays the framework for the Surfer’s existence, placing him in a position to give direct social commentary on the human race. This social commentary not only encompasses the personal opinions of the series' creator, but also the greater moral compass of American culture as a whole.

The Silver Surfer, once known as 'Norrin Radd', originates on the planet 'Zenn-La', an idyllic, almost heavenly place, where advanced technology had eliminated all worldly frustrations and controversy. This idyllic setting was disturbed only by the appearance of an interstellar, near-godly entity known as 'Galactus' which planned to consume all of Zenn-La as sustenance. Norrin Radd struck a deal with Galactus, sacrificing contact with his lover, his civilization, his home-world and his entire life on Zenn-La in order to guarantee the future safety of his planet (Lavin). In return, Galactus granted Radd the 'power cosmic’, thus enabling Radd to shape and bend space-time around himself in order to do Galactus’ will for the rest of time, acting as Galactus’ ‘herald’ (Comtois).

Out of hunger, Galactus eventually targets Earth for consumption; consequently the Silver Surfer is then required to prepare the planet for destruction. Eventually, based on the innocent pleas of a blind woman who seeks to bargain for the planet and the heroism of the human population, the Silver Surfer turns against Galactus and fights to save the Earth. This decision results in yet another act of self-sacrifice by which the Silver Surfer successfully protects the Earth, but as punishment loses his freedom to travel across the universe at will. Eventually, the Silver Surfer escapes the barrier which prevents him from escaping Earth, but chooses to remain on Earth for an extensive period of time, because of a sense of moral obligation to protect the planet’s inhabitants (Gabilliet 207). Eventually, as more heroes arise across the planet, the Surfer determines he is again free to subdue evil forces throughout the universe, a duty which he feels more compelling than his own urges to return to his home-world (Comtois).

While most comic book superheroes generate an 'alter-ego' or 'secret identity' to help blend in with the rest of human society, the Silver Surfer does not, thus separating him from humanity as a whole. This one-faced personality gives him an outside perspective on human interactions, as he remains outside the scope of normal human activity.

Additionally, the Surfer's outside perspective places him a unique position in the role of the archetypal literary hero....

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