1978, book, Fireside, Jack Kirby, paperback, Silver Surfer, Silver Surfer graphic novel, Simon & Schuster, Stan Lee
The 1978 version of the Silver Surfer by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby stands apart from the rest of the characters and history of Marvel Comics. It does not have the obligatory cameo appearance by Spider-man, and it does not cross-over with the Avengers. In fact, it re-tells the first Silver Surfer story: the Surfer rebels against Galactus so that Galactus will spare Earth. But here, we have no Fantastic Four, no Watcher, nothing from the first time Lee & Kirby spun this yarn. Instead we have a love story, featuring a previously unseen female counterpart for the Surfer.
Honestly, we did not care for the story. The love story felt contrived for maximum pathos without really mattering at all, and the additional “average person” characters trotted on stage seemed generic or bland. Reading a different version about a Surfer scenario we already knew backwards and forwards felt almost like a waste of time.
So why did this book get made? If we had to guess, Marvel hoped to pick up a more adult audience for the comic book. Notice that Fireside, apparently a Simon & Schuster company, published this “ultimate cosmic experience” — not Marvel. This book seems aimed at a general audience, not your die-hard Marvelite. Stan and Jack stripped off all the superhero stuff from the original Surfer tale and turned it into a science-fiction “movie” that adults could get into but also share with their kids. As such, we can appreciate this book as an example of early efforts Marvel made to penetrate mainstream culture by expanding into more media and adapting their intellectual property to the new media. And just look at them now.
Anyway, regular visitors to Mars Will Send No More will understand we bought this book for exactly one reason: the stunning jack Kirby artwork. So why don’t we have a look inside and blow our minds together?
Collector’s Guide: You can often find Simon & Schuster’s original Silver Surfer printings from 1978 in stock in both paperback and hardcover.