Amazing Spider-Friends is a twice-monthly column, written by contributor Tyler Barlass, that highlights the rich and complex relationships that Spider-Man has built with just about every character in the Marvel Universe through the years.
It made perfect sense when it was announced that Dan Slott and Mike Allred would be teaming up to work on a new volume of Silver Surfer. Slott, most famous for his jaunty and affable stories showcased within the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, and Allred, a legend in the comic book industry for his unique and playful artwork, teaming up to tell the tale of the enigmatic Surfer and his travels across the colorful and majestic galaxy was enough to make fan boys swoon. If you haven’t picked up the first issue of the new Silver Surfer title that came out late last month, I implore you to seek it out. It is just as delightful as it sounds.
Being in a Silver Surfer kind of mood after having read the issue myself, I figured I would write up something about the relationship between the Silver Surfer and Spidey. As one might expect, the former herald of Galactus and a dude who grew up in Queens haven’t necessarily crossed paths on a regular basis, but when they have it’s been fun of an intergalactic persuasion.
An original creation of Jack Kirby, the Silver Surfer first appeared in Fantastic Four #48 in 1966. An inhabitant of the planet Zenn-La, the Surfer saves his planet from destruction by vowing to become the herald of Galactus and is ultimately bestowed with the Power Cosmic. In his first appearance, the Surfer comes to Earth and finds it suitable for his master to consume. Before the story is through though, Silver Surfer decides instead to help save Earth after discovering the nobility within him, with the help of the Fantastic Four. The Silver Surfer would go on to become an extremely popular character within the Marvel Universe and by 1969 he would be given his very own title.
It’s within the pages of the Surfer’s solo title that he and the wall-crawler first met up. Still a rather young and hot-headed hero at the time, Spidey’s first reaction when meeting the awesome Surfer was to attack him (despite the fact that the Silver Surfer had just saved the web-slinger from a near fatal fall). As so often happens, this led to an all out brawl stretching across New York’s skyline. During the battle, a young boy came across the Surfer’s board that had been discarded in the fracas.
As the battle between Spidey and SS began to heat up, the army decided that they should probably get involved and began firing at the shiny alien. This coerced the Surfer to summon his board so that he could flee the battle, not knowing that the young boy was atop the board when he called for it. After unwittingly dragging the boy into the fray of the battle, the Surfer, not wanting any innocent lives to be hurt, extended his forcefield to protect the boy. Eventually both the army and Spider-Man realized that the Surfer was putting his own life in danger to protect the boy and they both allowed SS to retreat in peace.
Other than major Marvel events, such as the “Infinity Gauntlet,” the Surfer and Spider-Man wouldn’t actually team-up until decades later (and even then it was Ben Reilly behind the mask and not Pete). In the mid-‘90s, during the short period when Ben Reilly had taken up the role as Spider-Man, our hero finally got a chance to fight on the same side as the Surfer. First though, Ben (like Pete) attacked the former herald of Galactus after being brainwashed by the Thinker. The team-up part of the adventure began after both heroes were transported to the ship of Thanos where it became clear that Quasimodo, who had somehow possessed Thanos’ ship, was out to seek revenge on the Silver Surfer. After eradicating Quasimodo from the ship, with the help of Thanos himself, SS and Spider-Ben were transported back to Earth where they both shared a nice little moment discussing life.
The next time Spidey encountered the Silver Surfer (this time with Pete behind the mask and not Ben), was within the pages of Silver Surfer (vol. 3) #128. The curious thing about this team-up is that it took place during a point in time in which the Surfer had reverted back to Norrin Radd, his original self. In turn, a clay copy of the Silver Surfer had replaced the real one and was out causing mayhem in New York. With most of the Earth’s heroes gone after their battle with Onslaught, Spidey and Daredevil were basically the only two vigilantes in town capable of taking him down. It didn’t take long for the fake Surfer to get the better of both heroes though and it became clear that Norrin Radd himself was the only person who could stop his double. After confronting the evil Surfer, Radd’s mention of his home planet caused his irate clone to explode, taking care of the threat.
Probably the most memorable appearance that the Silver Surfer made in Spider-Man’s life, and the story I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for me to get to, is the Carnage Cosmic storyline from Amazing Spider-Man #430 – 431. This story, taking place in the interesting era between the clone saga and the ’99 reboot, featured the symbiotic serial killer known as Carnage abandoning his original host, Cletus Kasady, and combining with the Surfer himself. It all started after the Silver Surfer swooped in to aid Spider-Man in his battle with a recently escaped Carnage. Seizing the opportunity, the symbiote jumped from Kasady to the much more powerful Surfer. As the Surfer flew off into the cosmos to try and wrestle control away from Carnage, Spidey dropped a suddenly sick Kasady off at a local hospital.
After being looked at by a doctor, it was revealed that Kasady has been dieing from stomach cancer for sometime and was only being kept alive by the symbiote that inhabited him. Without Carnage, Cletus’ death was imminent. After finally taking control of the symbiote, the Surfer returned to Earth to save the life of Kasady. After some initial resistance from Spidey, Pete eventually allowed the Carnage symbiote to recombine with its original host. The Silver Surfer, not about to let a man who had committed so many crimes get away without some sort of punishment, encapsulated Carnage in a prison of energy before flying off with Spider-Man on the back of his board.
No real team-ups of note have taken place between these two characters since the 1990’s. It’s actually been a long time since the Silver Surfer has even been a major player in the Marvel Universe. Not since Stan Lee was writing the character has the Surfer been considered one of the House of Ideas’ marquee characters. The generally positive, if not enthusiastic, reception that Slott and Allred’s rendition of the Surfer has already gotten may play a role in changing all of that though. And maybe, just maybe, with Dan Slott at the helm, the sentinel of the spaceways will fight along side your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man again in the near future.