The Silver Surfer Series Concept



The Animated Series

by Larry Brody

The saga of the Silver Surfer is a modern myth that’s been part of pop culture for thirty years. The most philosophical, sensitive, and idealistic of all Stan Lee’s creations, the Surfer and his quest for peace, home and love in a violent and unpredictable universe have struck a chord in the hearts of generations of readers.

Once the herald of Galactus, an entity so awesome that he’s more like a force of nature than a living being, the Surfer is actually NORRIN RADD, a man who traded his humanity for the cosmic power necessary to find planets suitable for Galactus’ consumption. In so doing, he saved his own planet, Zenn-La, from destruction by Galactus?and lost both his place there, with his people, and his great love, SHALLA BAL.

Forced to help feed Galactus’ insatiable appetite, the Silver Surfer at last rebelled, and after a bitter but successful struggle with his master, he was able to keep Galactus from wiping out the planet Earth. Victory through force would’ve been impossible. It was the Surfer’s heartthat got to Galactus. His herald’s courage and audacity in fighting a battle he couldn’t possibly win actually made this incredible being feelsomething, for the first time in millions of years.

An action series first and foremost, THE SILVER SURFER picks up the story from there, chronicling the adventures of Norrin Radd after he’s been released from Galactus’ service. Most of our series will take place in the depths of Space, just as the comic on which it’s based does. A loner by nature, the Surfer roams the spaceways, searching among the billions of galaxies, stars, and planets for his homeworld, which Galactus has moved from its orbit and hidden from him.

Like the gods of ancient Greece and Rome, Galactus is a bad loser. Just as those ancient gods kept the hero Ulysses from getting home to his wife, Penelope, after the Trojan War, so Galactus keeps the Silver Surfer from returning to Shalla Bal. It could’ve gone worse for our silvery friend. It’s only Galactus’ grudging admiration for Norrin Radd that’s enabled the Surfer to get away with his life.

In a parallel to another modern myth, the Western hero, Shane, the Silver Surfer longs to leave his “guns” behind him and settle down to a life of peace. Every time he uses his cosmic power he painfully relives the chaos and devastation in which he once took part. It’s ironic that for the Surfer to have any chance at all of succeeding in his quest, he has to utilize the power to its fullest.

And what a power it is! Thanks to Galactus’ genetic engineering, the Surfer can endure the great extremes of heat and cold found throughout space. He can “surf” through the vastness by riding the crest of waves of cosmic energy. Without what he wryly calls “the power cosmic,” no way could the Surfer perform his signature stunts, such as “hanging ten” through a wormhole or “walking the nose” over a nebula.

The Silver Surfer’s fighting skills include the ability to unleash bolts of energy from his hands and the ability to withstand all but the most incredibly powerful attacks. But he isn’t invulnerable. The Surfer’s power can be exhausted, and the more he uses it without time to regenerate, the weaker he gets. Also, within his silver skin he’s mortal, subject to disease and bodily malfunction, which can either occur naturally or be caused by enemies.

The Surfer also has a peaceful power. He can generate rays of healing or transforming energy from his eyes, using it to save a friend who’s near death, or turn one element into another. His healing power is limited to only one or two people at a time, and if he tries to push it, the Surfer will weaken, and may even black out. And, unfortunately for him, it won’t work at all if he tries to use it on himself.

Since the overall arc of the series is the Surfer’s attempt to get home, he’ll spend most of his time going from solar system to solar system, trying to find news of Zenn-La. Along the way, he’ll meet fascinating beings and civilizations, and we’ll create new and exotic forms of life and society. The Surfer may, for example, end up on a planet where plants have formed an intelligent civilization; or one where creatures that look like monsters are actually peaceful and wise; or he may meet up with a civilization that’s always on the move in its spaceships, with people who’ve never set foot on?or in?anything else.

No matter how alien any of these beings is on the outside, we’ll soon find out that on the inside they’re “human,” with the same hopes, dreams, and desires all living, intelligent beings have?and the same jealousy, anger, and greed. These emotions motivate their conflicts, and even though all the Silver Surfer intends to do is pass through the area on the way to Zenn-La, invariably he’s drawn into the dilemmas he sees.

One such problem might come up in a civilization where the leading race thrives because it has, through genetic engineering, created a whole new species to do its work for it. But those in the “under species” have gained self-awareness, and are rebelling against being bred to be slaves. Is it principle that motivates those who control them? Or is it greed? And is it principle that prods the rebels into action? Or do they just want to turn the tables on their overlords for revenge?

Another problem could involve a lifeform whose brain is also inhabited by another, alien creature. At first glance, this is no problem. After all, the being who the Surfer has befriended is a very peaceful, laid back kind of guy, always in harmony with his surroundings. But then the Surfer meets another member of his friend’s race, whose brain don’t have what they call a “monitor,” and he realizes that the reason for all this serenity is that the monitor is literally preventing his friend from thinking his own thoughts and living his own life!

Yet another problem occurs in a civilization where everyone lives in a “dream,” utterly oblivious to the real world around them. Not only is their real planet a shambles, but their sun is about to go nova. When Norrin Radd accidentally enters the dream, he forgets everything about his current situation and instead constantly relives, over and over, the most dangerous, exciting, and frightening events of his past. How will he remember where he actually is? And how will he get himself and all the others out of the dream world before it goes BLAM?

The Surfer’s involvement in these and other situations is based on more than being a kind of “Henry Kissinger of Space.” On Zenn-La, life was appreciated and revered, and because of this, the Silver Surfer was always very idealistic. But when Galactus first gave the Surfer super powers, he also altered the Surfer’s mind, taking away his conscience. This was the only way the Surfer could bear being part of Galactus’ terrible acts of destruction. One of the reasons the Surfer has left Galactus is that he overcame the mind control, but in so doing he was deluged by an overwhelming sense of guilt.

The memories of his time with Galactus will haunt the Silver Surfer forever, and we’ll see them as action-filled flashbacks when he’s in a situation that reminds him of the past. His soul is more tormented than the most sensitive poet’s, and the Surfer has a need to help people because to him that’s the only way he can try to make up for what he did. In many cases, the Silver Surfer’s efforts go unappreciated even by those he has helped, and he’s no stranger to the feeling of being betrayed. Still he has no real choice. When the Silver Surfer sees injustice and suffering he has to do all he can to stop it, regardless of what the consequences to him may be.

In this way, the Surfer is like Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek. Everything he does is emotional, coming from his keen awareness of how precious and beautiful life is. Like Captain Kirk, the Surfer is constantly faced with the fact that other beings don’t appreciate this precious gift and spend much of their time squandering it. Also like Kirk, the Surfer doesn’t really spend a lot of time kvetching. Instead, even though he knows it’ll interfere with his journey home, he jumps right in.

In a typical story, when the Silver Surfer comes to a new planet or area of space his main interest is to find out if anyone here has any news about Zenn-La. But as he gets to know those on the planet better, and to care more about them, he inevitably bows to his idealism and does his best to help resolve their situation. His first attempt is almost always a peaceful one, but the Surfer’s belief in the general goodness of living beings is often his biggest weakness, and he often will find himself pushed and pushed and pushed still harder?until, in order to save someone else (never for just himself), he unleashes the power cosmic, coming back from the brink of disaster to save the day.

Even in the heat of battle, the Surfer’s past is never forgotten. Sometimes, when overmatched by a foe and teetering on the edge of defeat, he’ll think of Shalla Bal and find new strength. At other times he’ll think he has seen her somewhere, only to find that it was only a woman who resembled his great love.

Galactus is constantly adding to his punishment for being the only entity in the universe to ever successfully rebel against him. At times, for example, he will send visions of home across space and directly into the Surfer’s mind. These visions are so powerful, so vivid, and so beautiful that they make the Surfer cry out in pain when he realizes that they’re not real.

Most of the time, Galactus can’t be bothered with dealing personally with the Surfer. Just as the gods sent enemies to stop Ulysses from getting home, Galactus uses “hired guns,” super villains like TERRAX, with his own brand of cosmic powers and an icy ruthlessness to boot; MORG, the Surfer’s replacement in Galactus’ employ; NEBULA, a cunning woman space pirate; and RAZE, an alien bounty hunter with his own peculiar morality. It’s like being chased by the super-posse in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The Silver Surfer can outdistance and outsmart them, but nothing he does can stop them from coming on.

One result of this is that very few beings are willing to get involved with the Silver Surfer. They’re afraid to even be near him in case they become targets too. In spite of the danger, in the course of the series Norrin Radd will manage to find a few brave allies. These include other cosmic-powered former heralds of Galactus, including the often temperamental FIRELORD; the earnest AIRWALKER, and NOVA, a beautiful and irreverently witty young Earth woman.

Nova, in fact, falls in love with the Surfer, adding another dimension to his personality. The Surfer returns her feelings, and whenever they’re together he’s tempted to give up his search for Zenn-La?but it’s a temptation to which he never succumbs. No matter how attractive Nova is, it’s Shalla Bal who beckons Norrin Radd in his dreams.

Other friends include ADAM WARLOCK, an artificially created human being whose problem is that he feels things too deeply; the humorously single-minded and none-too-bright but very powerful DRAX THE DESTROYER (imagine a super-powered Lenny, in Of Mice and Me), even the wise-cracking, mystically powered PIP THE TROLL. These characters will add color, variety, and humor to the series, with one or another of them accompanying the Surfer in a kind of mini-character arc that may last for two or three stories. Still, at the end of each arc, the Silver Surfer will have to go on?alone.

In addition to battling for justice on alien worlds and fighting for his very existence against Galactus’ minions, the Surfer’s adventures will also involve interplanetary or space menaces. Can he save everyone when a comet is about to collide with a planet and destroy its entire civilization? How does he react when he’s the victim of a space-borne plague? Will he be able to find a home for intergalactic refugees from a disaster like, say, the Kree-Skrull War? And how will he feel when he comes face to face with the WANDERERS, bitter survivors of planets destroyed by Galactus himself?

Other stories will involve individual foes much more powerful than the Surfer, including the mysterious and power-hungry TYRANT; THANOS, who virtually worships evil as though it was holy; and EGO, who is, literally, a Living Planet. Like Galactus, these enemies are almost godlike in their power, able to destroy planets on a whim, and motivated by grand schemes and cosmic considerations. They manipulate whole populations, trying to fulfill their own warped senses of destiny and fate. Ego in particular seems a natural for this series, with his ability to disguise himself as Zenn-La in an effort to end his own aching loneliness and dupe the Surfer into staying with him. And, speaking of destiny and fate, the Surfer will encounter them too, in the guise of Eternity and Infinity, metaphysical concepts given physical form.

To add to the mystique and the feeling of myth and legend, the narrative point of view of the series will change from time to time. All the stories will be “happening” as we see them, with suspense about what’s to come, and most of them will be told from the Silver Surfer’s point of view, with our primary focus on how what’s going on effects him. Occasionally, however, we’ll present a story from the point of view of one of his friends or allies, and we’ll see how traveling with the Surfer changes them.

We may also present an episode or two from the point of view of one of those the Surfer helps on a new planet. Or from the vantage point of the WATCHER, a Marvel character who specializes in observing the universe’s most significant events. And we may even tell a story from the point of view of the villains, so that we better understand what they’re all about.

Visually, THE SILVER SURFER has the entire universe to explore, with grand intergalactic vistas waiting to be shown. Everything will be authentic, based on the latest NASA photographs and discoveries, but heightened even more. With our expertise in animation, we will portray vast panoramas that no human on Earth has yet seen, with sweeping visuals that add to both the action and the personal and philosophical nature of the stories.

In a sense, this series is almost primal. The Silver Surfer has become a pop myth because his sense of alienation is the same as that felt at some time by every man or woman, and his quest is like every human being’s search for identity and meaning. He’s just doing what we’re all trying to do?working hard to make every place he finds himself a better one, while searching for that one spot in the universe where he truly belongs, that home where he can sit back and relax, and feel the warm, comforting embrace of love.

Watching THE SILVER SURFER will become an important part of the life of everyone in the audience, because through this series they’ll get a better look into themselves?and the dreams that link all human beings together.

Don’t go away! There’s more to come in THE SILVER SURFER Universe!