THE SURFER’S FRIENDS
Pip the Troll
Pip the Troll is the Falstaff of the SILVER SURFER universe. He’s a loud, lusty, robust little being with hearty appetites. Pip just can’t help himself: Everything he does, he does to excess. He eats too much, drinks too much, loves too much. He plays too many pranks, gets too angry, and in times of danger just plain fights ‘til he drops. In short, he’s the perfect buddy for a quiet, modest guy like the Surfer.
A being with no super powers to speak of, Pip thinks the Silver Surfer is the greatest thing since the last greatest thing…mainly because the Surfer saved Pip’s life, and freed him and his people from bondage. Raised on a planet in the Kree civilization where genetic engineered critters are as common as mechanically engineered things like cars are on earth, Pip was one of the “under-people,” a race bred to selflessly—and slavishly—serve the dominant beings.
Pip and the others, however, developed self-awareness…and resentment over the unjustness of their situation. When the Silver Surfer first encounters him, Pip and others like him are leading a rebellion that’s likely to have disastrous consequences for both sides. The Surfer steps in just in time to save not only Pip but also his former masters from certain destruction, and as a result the eternally grateful little “troll” vows to follow his savior to the ends of the universe.
For the Surfer’s part, he finds Pip amusing, but has no intention of taking Pip with him anywhere. The Silver Surfer’s life is too dangerous for him to let anyone without great power into it…and besides, as lovable as Pip is, he’s still a royal pain in even the silver-coated one’s butt.
Nova’s real name is Frankie Raye, and she was born on Earth, eighteen years before Galactus and the Silver Surfer arrived there. When Galactus was left without a herald after the Surfer’s revolt, Frankie volunteered for the job…and got it.
What impressed Galactus was the fact that the adventurous Frankie was actually able to board his enormous ship and find her way through its maze-like interior, reaching the control center itself. No other being had ever been able to do this, and Frankie soon learned that, although she had never known it, she was in fact a mutant, and had been born with the innate ability to track anything, anywhere. What could be more useful to a herald, whose job is to find energy for Galactus to consume?
Young, headstrong, and impetuous, Nova is in many ways the archetypal teenage girl, and she’s filled with strong emotions. Too naïve to understand what working for Galactus would really be like, Nova found out quickly that it wasn’t for her. Just as quickly, Galactus realized that in spite of her great gift Frankie was too young and immature to adequately perform her task of finding new worlds for him to consume.
By mutual agreement, Nova left Galactus and went out on her own. Armed with the “power cosmic,” and streaking across the heavens like a beautifully feminine miniature sun, Nova lives like a college girl on permanent summer vacation. To her, life is one big party, or a never-ending trip to Europe—except that Nova’s version of Europe is the entire universe!
Nova’s having a ball, wise-cracking her way across the galaxies, running Skrull blockades, and teaching Earth slang to the natives, when she encounters the Silver Surfer once more. For the first time in her life, she feels deeply about someone…the man she refers to as “Silverado.” His gentleness, nobility, and heroism make her see how shallow and rash she has been, and Nova tries to attach herself to him.
She tells the Surfer she needs him to teach her how to better use her cosmic power, but while that’s true, it’s just a convenient excuse. Overwhelmed by Nova’s enthusiasm, the Surfer finds himself responding to her in a way he has responded to no one except his beloved Shalla Bal, and he is tempted indeed by Nova’s charms.
Although the Surfer rejects Nova this time, they are fated to meet again and again. Will her mutant talent enable her to guide the Surfer home to Zenn-La? Or has Galactus put the planet beyond even Nova’s reach? All we know for certain is that with all his power and idealism, if the Silver Surfer doesn’t make it back to Shalla Bal the reason won’t be any villain or space disaster—the reason will be the woman known as Nova.
Drax the Destroyer
Created by Tyrant to destroy Thanos, Drax the Destroyer is a super-powered android of biological origin who thinks of nothing but his programmed mission. Drax is a touching character because underlying his rigid programming are genuine human emotions, all of them warm and kind, so that he is constantly at war with himself.
Making life even more difficult for Drax is the fact that past encounters with Thanos have left him intelligence impaired, and he’s like the character of Lenny in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men—good-natured but dangerous because he’s unaware of his own strength.
Drax has no understanding of his impairment, and means only to do the right thing. But he wreaks havoc wherever he goes, and even though they’re on the same side, the Silver Surfer ends up having to fight him just as though he was an enemy. When the pummeling starts, Drax has with a very big advantage: He would never think of pulling a punch, but the noble Surfer will do just about anything to keep from seriously hurting this foe.
Adam Warlock takes his name from the fact that he was the first warrior in the history of his far-away world. Where he comes from, that’s no great claim to fame, since his people had lived in peace and harmony for millennia. In fact, no one on Adam’s homeworld was capable of even raising his voice in anger, let alone fighting or killing.
When a Kree task force invaded Adam’s homeworld, all appeared lost. There was no one who had the slightest idea of how to fight back. Adam volunteered to be programmed in the arts of war, and to wear the Soul Gem that would give him great physical and mental power. Adam’s sacrifice paid off, and he managed to beat off the Kree and send them packing from the whole sector.
With the battle over, Adam assumed he could rejoin his society, but his people had other ideas. So horrified were they by his ability to do everything they had been conditioned against for so long, everything they considered morally reprehensible, that they could never allow him to live in their midst again. The relationship of Adam Warlock with his people became that of a ‘50s high school girl with her boyfriend after the girl has given in and let him have sex with her. Adam’s people, the “boyfriend,” felt that he was no longer good enough for them!
Adam Warlock was banned from the planet of his birth and exiled to a time warp where he was doomed to fight his battle with the Kree over and over again until the end of time. Compounding this tragic situation was the fact that Adam’s people were so overwhelmed by all that had transpired that they fell into decay and, ultimately, vanished from the universe forever.
While trying to find Zenn-La, the Silver Surfer discovers Adam Warlock fighting his endless battle, and frees him from the time warp. But, as so often happens when the Surfer does what’s in his heart, he finds himself facing not Adam’s gratitude but his wrath. The situation parallels not only that in which Adam Warlock found himself centuries ago, but also the Surfer’s own life, and when the two heroes finally reconcile and go their separate ways, both have learned a great deal.
Beta Ray Bill
Beta Ray Bill is a dreamer—literally. He comes from the planet of the Whinnym, where the entire civilization takes part in a group dream, living lives of total wish fulfillment while the planet around them goes—also literally—to waste. In Beta Ray Bill’s dream, he’s the greatest hero he can imagine, a mighty thunder god who protects his realm. In reality, of course, Bill is quite different. Since his race most closely resembles the animal people on Earth know as the horse, Bill is, simply, a broken-down nag.
All this changes when the Silver Surfer comes to warn the planet of an impending cataclysm, engineered by Thanos. At first, the Surfer finds himself trapped in the communal dream—but for him it’s his worst nightmare, as he relives the time he spent with Galactus. When he finally pulls himself out, he takes Beta Ray Bill with him—and the power of the group mind is so strong that Bill becomes the hero he always imagined himself to be.
Together, they defeat Thanos’ scheme, but Bill isn’t done. He likes this hero business, and he’s in it to stay!
Shalla Bal is an inhabitant of Zenn-La, the woman the Silver Surfer was forced to leave behind. Just as Zenn-La was almost perfect, a Utopian society of freedom, justice, and compassion, so Shalla Bal is the perfect woman, the standard against which the Surfer compares all others.
When Galactus took the Surfer as his herald, he used his power to cause all memory of the Surfer’s existence as Norrin Radd of Zenn-La to be erased from the planet’s history. So in spite of all the passion she and Norrin Radd shared, Shalla Bal doesn’t even remember him now. The great love of her life is lost, perhaps forever, because to her, the Silver Surfer’s former persona seems like nothing but a vaguely hope, or a fever dream.
To the Surfer, however, Shalla Bal is very, very real. Although they are no longer together, this beautiful woman lives in the Surfer’s heart, and he thinks of her every day. We see her as he remembers her, noble and kind, and as he wants her to be, chaste and true. In the Silver Surfer’s mind, Shalla Bal urges him on in his quest, and gives him the strength to triumph over all who stand in his way.
If ever there were a woman who deserved to be cherished, that woman is the wonderful and tragic Shalla Bal.
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