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Silver Surfer

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Between this guy and Kraven, who do you think has been on more safaris?

A metallic-skinned humanoid from the planet Zenn-La, the Silver Surfer gets his name from his shimmering appearance and iconic hovering surfboard.

The Silver Surfer was created by Jack Kirby, but he was adopted by Stan Lee. Stan loved the character and, for a while at least, "reserved" the Surfer so he would be the only one who wrote him - the Galactus story came out in 1966, and it was 1987 before any other writer wrote a Silver Surfer comic. Unfortunately, that love of the character was part of what led to the split between Stan and Jack: Kirby envisioned the Silver Surfer as a being that Galactus created from pure energy, while Stan wanted to give him a whole human backstory; and when you're the editor and have the final word on anything, you tend to get your way. [Yes, I agree, that's the best way to do things! Also, you're boring and you smell. --ed.]

Silver Surfer is the newest Walgreens exclusive, following the Mr. Fantastic from earlier this year. Like so many Marvel Legends, this figure reuses an existing mold with new paint - not that there's a lot of paint, since he's solid silver with no clothes on. The toy is molded in a silvery grey plastic, then given a brighter, shinier coat of silver paint above that. This definitely beats trying to just cast him in color (imagine how swirly that plastic would look) or even, god forbid, vac-metallizing him. Good choices, Hasbro; good choices!

The only differentiated paint can be found on his face; his eyes are blank white, while he gets dark grey lines under his eyes and on his upper lip. Fierce makeup look, Norrin! Also, something I'd never previously realized about the Silver Surfer: he has no ears. This head probably can't be reused, since there aren't a lot of earless characters around.

Since Surfer's body is an existing mold, you know what to expect of his articulation: swivel/hinge ankles, swivel shins, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a swivel waist, hinged torso, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinge elbows, swivel biceps, swivel hinge shoulders, swivel pecs (which is what makes identifying this mold easy), hinged neck and a balljointed head. The extra flexibility in the arms is good for having him throw his arms forward to perform a cosmic energy blast, and everything else is useful for having him, like, surf, man!

His accessories allow you to do both of those things. First, we have a set of energy rings cast in a translucent, sparkly yellow - if you're not using these for Silver Surfer, they'll be great for Captain Universe! Secondly, he's got his surfboard, which was created because Jack Kirby was tired of drawing spaceships, and is the same color as the rest of his body. That's the same mold from 2007's Fantastic Four-themed series of Marvel Legends, except the footpeg is shorter and this time it's not chromed, meaning it's automatically better. It does force the figure to ride goofy footed, but hey, maybe that's his preference. The magnetic board on the ML5 figure is still the best option out there. And while it's nice to get three pairs of hands - two fists, two splayed, two flat - we'd probably have traded those for something that lifted the board off the ground and made it hover. Like the bio specifically says it does.

The Silver Surfer was popular enough after his introduction to appear in Fantastic Four a few more times before getting his own series in 1968. Stan wrote his ass off for the book, but it only lasted 18 issues. It's also where Silver Surfer's origin and the name Norrin Radd were introduced. The interesting thing is that while "radical" (and therefore "rad") did ultimately come from surfer culture, it didn't really emerge until the 1970s. So while giving the character the last name "Radd" may seem like a rather lazy pun, it honestly isn't - unless you want to claim that Stan had his finger so on the pulse of the youths that he was hip to the lingo before anyone else was. And with it safely assumed that the slang didn't influence the character, the question then becomes: given that Marvel comics were popular with the counter-culture kids, did the connection flow in the opposite direction, with the character influencing the slang?

-- 09/03/18

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