There is no force within the vast depths of the Marvel universe more feared than Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds. Akin to a cosmic force of nature, Galactus consumes entire planets to sate his relentless hunger, an act he performs with neither conscious or emotion. To aid him in his search of suitable planets, Galactus employs his herald, The Silver Surfer, to seek out planets worth destroying. It was inevitable that The Silver Surfer would come to mourn the loss of life at the hands of his master. The conflict between the two cosmic beings came to a head when Galactus performed the most heinous act imaginable with the creation and destruciton of the woman, Ardina.
The Silver Surfer (by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) was a 1978 one-shot, a retelling of the Silver Surfer’s first encounter with Earth. While the Silver Surfer’s original debut was in 1965’s Fantastic Four #48 (by Lee and Kirby), a tale in which he engaged the titular heroes and announced the coming of his master, Galactus, The Silver Surfer as a one-shot is a deeper exploration of what he experienced on a personal level when he came to Earth.
The Silver Surfer was the Herald To Galactus
The story begins much like his original debut: as Galactus becomes consumed by his incalculable hunger, the Silver Surfer discovers Earth. Galactus and the Silver Surfer are elated at finding a planet unlike any other. The Silver Surfer flies through Earth’s atmosphere and explores the planet, astounded at the bountiful energy and the overwhelming diversity of life existing on it. A sudden sadness fills him, and he decrees that he will not allow Galactus to destroy the planet that he has suddenly become so enamored with.
Galactus, enraged at the audacity of his herald, condemns his now former herald to stay on Earth forever, unable to enter the cosmos ever again. But as Galactus sails through space alone, he realizes that his will is not to be defied. He concocts the perfect plan to force the Silver Surfer to rejoin him. Using the Power Cosmic, Galactus creates a fiery red woman, Ardina, and tasks her with convincing the Silver Surfer to leave Earth with her and come back to his master. The plan is successful for a time until the Silver Surfer realizes that Ardina is nothing more than a ploy to make him sacrifice Earth to Galactus. But as the two cosmic heralds converse, a connection begins to form between them. The Silver Surfer manages to show Ardina how and why he cares so deeply for Earth and the life on it; touched by his compassion, as the Silver Surfer is touched by Ardina’s vivacity and beauty, the two begin to fall in love.
Love Was Something Forever Out Of The Silver Surfer’s Reach
This love was not meant to last, however, as Galactus becomes aware that Ardina failed in her mission to bring the Silver Surfer back to him. As the Silver Surfer embraces Ardina, The Matrix, the machine that created Ardina from The Power Cosmic itself, descends from the sky and reabsorbs her. Lost within black seas of grief and the darkening of his heart, the Silver Surfer is pulled forcefully back to Galactus, who gives him a final choice: choose to die and Earth shall be destroyed with him, or continue to serve Galactus and thus allow Earth to be saved.Of all the acts Galactus has committed none have been as cruel and heartless as the one he enacted upon the Silver Surfer at that moment. Galactus has stated countless times that his need to consume entire planets is not an act of callous evil, but simply his sole act to survive. For a being as ancient as he, eating a planet is nothing more than stepping on mere insects. It is regrettable to some capacity, but an unavoidable act nonetheless.
But for Galactus to create a woman and allow her and his servant to fall in love only to kill her – just to make his servant resume his role – is inarguably heartless. The Silver Surfer is a being of immense sorrow. Whether he operates as a herald of Galactus or of his own volition, he is a being graced with the ability to explore the entire universe, but cursed to do so alone. The utter isolation that envelops him, coupled with the memories of his lovers Shalla-Bal and Ardina, leave the Silver Surfer shackled by a profound grief. While the Silver Surfer has vowed to only find uninhabited planets for Galactus to consume in later years, saving countless civilizations, it is the two lives that he wanted more than anything else that haunt him the worst.