His origin is, rightly, legendary. As he worked up those early, celebrated FF issues that first featured Galactus – the planet-eating space god designed to be one of comics’ most unforgettable villains – Jack Kirby added a streamlined silver angel as his herald, an emotion-free mystery man sky-riding on a stylised surfboard. It was a bizarre but undeniably amazing visual, and an initially-stunned Stan Lee soon adopted the Silver Surfer as his favourite new character, a troubled soul beyond anything Marvel had tried to date – and Marvel had been heavy on the tragedy for quite some time.
With some characters it’s all about the visual, and there are few images more potent in pop culture than the sight of the brave one-time Norrin Radd soaring his lonely way through space on his silver board.
Of course, his legacy is just as tragic, in a way. Kirby had originally drawn the Surfer as a muscular, rather frightening figure, never intending his anti-hero to be some mere transformed man. When he and Lee fell out over it, though, the writing was on the wall for Jack at Marvel – and the company’s first pure explosion of creativity went with him.