This is one of the best Surfer stories of all time, even though I’m not sure Stan intended it to be so complex. The story starts with Silver Surfer throwing a tantrum. For two issues, we’ve watched him fly around and complain about how humans are all mean dicks to each other while he’s been aloft, above them, believing pacifism is the real proper way to live. But he gets fed up, and uses his vast power to shut down all power grids in the entire planet and encase the Earth in darkness.
Yeah, he’s wicked powerful.
Which makes it all the more interesting when Mephisto enters the story—complete with his classic throne-pose, above.
Mephisto has a vested interest in humans continuing to be warlike—so Surfer’s attempt to shut down Earth and force humans to get along is in direct opposition to Mephisto’s will. But he also sees the potential in using Surfer for his own purposes. So, he goes to Zenn-La and kidnaps Shalla Bal, which means Surfer will see her for the first time since he became the herald of Galactus.
What follows is a battle of wills—Surfer vs. Mephisto—and we learn that Norrin Radd’s power isn’t just cosmic: He is mentally tougher than Mephisto, and ultimately he wins…Only to lose his true love forever. Mephisto doesn’t even allow him to touch her hand once more.
What’s so great about this story? Everything. In particular, though, I like how it starts with Surfer losing his shit but ends with him relying on his principles and mental strength. Because even the best of us loses it sometimes.
And, finally, a fan letter from a young Tony Isbella!
Creators: Stan Lee, John Buscema
First appearance: Mephisto