Back in 1992 (wait….that’s 20 YEARS?! I bought this when it was new!) the Silver Surfer was well into his longest running series to date. As the series neared its 75th issue it was clear there needed to be a story worthy of such a milestone.
The Herald Ordeal started in Silver Surfer #70 (Late Aug. 1992) and ended in #75 (Dec. 1992). It was written by Ron Marz with art by M.C. Wyman (#70-72) and Ron Lim (#73-75) and featured covers by Lim.
Back in 1975, in Fantastic Four #164, Frankie Raye was introduced. She would go to join the Fantastic Four after her powers, which were very similar to the Human Torch’s, were brought to light. Fast forward to 1982′s Fantastic Four #244 and Frankie takes the next step in her evolution and becomes Herald to Galactus and leaves Earth.
As Nova, she would serve Galactus faithfully through many ordeals including his battle against the Elders Of The Universe and the In-Betweener as well as during both the Infinity Gauntlet and the Infinity War but trouble was bubbling under the surface.
In Silver Surfer #68, after a conversation with the Surfer, Nova had begun to doubt her role in the universe as Herald. Her human side was beginning to show and the weight of the countless lives she had a hand in ending was beginning to take it toll. This all would come to a head when, upon returning from a search for a planet for Galactus to feed upon, she would tell the Devourer that no such planet existed in the sector they were in. Unfortunately for her, Galactus was observing her and knew she was lying.
To solidify his disappointment in her, he locks her in a cell of sorts and takes her to a planet to fully show her that his needs are above everything and everyone else. The planet is home to Morg, a court executioner, who stands opposed to Galactus and impresses him with his lack of fear and morals, perhaps making him very useful to the World Eater.
After destroying Morg’s homeworld, Galactus dismisses Nova telling her to leave and never come back. He intends to replace her with Morg despite her objections to such a bloodthirsty monster having the Power Cosmic. Nova then leaves for parts unknown and Morg is made into a Herald just as the Silver Surfer shows up looking for Nova…
What follows is one of the few real beatings the Silver Surfer has ever received. Part of making Morg Herald was making him the Surfer’s equal, power-wise.
Galactus explains to the Surfer that Nova is gone and he no longer has an interest in her whereabouts. He replaced her with Morg who has none of the failings of his previous Heralds. The Surfer tries to protest but is first told that the ship of Galactus is now cloaked to his cosmic senses then is beaten to unconsciousness by Morg.
After regaining consciousness, the Surfer begins his quest to locate his fellow former Heralds in hopes that, united, they can either convince Galactus to take back the Power Cosmic or stop Morg once and for all. His first stop is helping Firelord and explaining to him the situation as Galactus and Morg arrive on a planet that may make things worse…
At the halfway mark of the story, The Silver Surfer and Firelord have joined forces and are now searching for Nova who hasn’t been seen since Galactus dismissed her. Their search takes them to Calculex, a sleazy planet full of adult entertainment and lowlife.
They finally locate Nova in an adult dancing establishment! It seems after losing her position as Herald, her mind shut down and somehow she found her way to this lowly spot. Firelord and the Surfer take her from the place and try to figure out a way to get her mind back on track. A solution comes to them in the most interesting of ways as while they searched the city for Nova, the Surfer had some issues with a guy wanting to make a name for himself by taking out the Silver Surfer. It’s an old-fashioned showdown that the Surfer doesn’t seem to be winning!
Meanwhile, Morg is exploring a planet before Galactus destroys it and learns of an ancient pool which has healing abilities. After forcing all the information about the pool’s history out of a priest he sees this as a chance to make himself even more powerful and submerges himself in the pool…
Part Four has Ron Lim returning as penciler of the series and starts with the Surfer lying on his back after losing a shoot out with a man out to make a name for himself. While Firelord doesn’t seem to concerned over the Surfer’s defeat, Nova gets snapped back to reality and panics. It’s all for naught, though, as the Surfer allowed himself to lose in order to get the guy to back off. That it brought Nova back was a bonus.
Now the problem they face is locating Galactus’ Worldship… Firelord has the solution but it may be difficult, the only person he knows who can locate the ship has been dead for a while, since Thor #305 (March 1981): Air-Walker!
While Firelord repairs Air-Walker, Nova and the Surfer have a talk. Nova is concerned now, for the first time in a long time she doesn’t have a purpose and isn’t sure what she should do with the rest of her life. The Surfer suggests they travel together once this ordeal is over.
Using their own Power Cosmic to recharge Air-Walker’s cells the robot awakens and things go out of control fast. It seems Air-Walker is still in the last moments of his previous life and is stuck in attack mode. To add to this complication is the fact that the Heralds weakened themselves in order to recharge Air-Walker’s batteries!
While the Heralds try to figure a way to get Air-Walker on their side, Morg emerges from the pool with more power than he’s ever had. His cosmic power is now combined with mystic powers giving him power to destroy a planet if he wants. Galactus seems unhappy at this augmentation but allows it as long as Morg obeys him without question.
The Heralds finally get Air-Walker on their side and he is still able to locate Galactus but before they go to the confrontation, the Surfer suggests one more stop, there is one whose power will be very useful in the coming conflict…thing is, it’s a man the Surfer abandoned on a planet a year ago: Terrax!
Silver Surfer #74 is entirely devoted to the Heralds trying to convince Terrax to join them. Naturally, having no love for the Surfer and the others, it’s difficult to get Terrax to listen but when he finally does they come to an agreement: If Terrax joins them and fights at their side as an ally, then once Morg is defeated the Surfer will allow him to go his own way without question.
The near issue long battle between Terrax and the Heralds is highly entertaining. Terrax is seen as a villain of sorts but he’s also a man who, in his mind, has been wronged by the Surfer and wants some form of revenge.
This was probably one of the first times Terrax was fully fleshed out as a character. He isn’t really evil, he’s just a jerk.
So, after finally convincing Terrax to join them, the Surfer and others first go to locate his axe then head to confront Morg…
It all comes to a head in Silver Surfer #75 which featured an embossed, foil cover (back in these days ‘milestone’ issues were celebrated and made a big deal of) and jumps right into it. Galactus begins the process of feasting on a planet while the Heralds confront Morg. As the battle begins, Terrax tells the Surfer to leave and try to convince Galactus to take back the Power Cosmic so Morg would be easier to deal with. It takes some convincing but the Surfer realizes the wisdom in what Terrax says and goes to talk to Galactus which turns into a major confrontation between those two because Galactus hates being wrong!
With his augmented powers, Morg goes through the former Heralds quickly. Air-Walker is the first to fall followed by Nova and Firelord leaving Terrax to face off against him while the Surfer continues his battle with Galactus while trying to talk some sense into him.
As Terrax begins to fall, Galactus finally agrees to observe Morg and follows the Surfer to the battle. As they arrive Morg prepares to deal the deathblow to Terrax only to be saved by Nova who seemingly kills Morg. When the Surfer arrives and begins to fill Nova in on the Galactus situation, Morg reawakens and blasts Nova, full force, in her back…
She falls and dies in the Silver Surfer’s arms as Galactus arrives and expresses his displeasure in Morg’s actions by removing his Power Cosmic.
Leaving the Heralds to deal with Morg, it’s Terrax who makes the final decision and kills Morg to finally stop his madness.
This story was just as fun to read now as it was 20 years ago. It’s most likely because of the cosmic setting but this story doesn’t really show it’s age at all. I was planning to stretch the reading of this story out over a day or two but it was so much fun I ended up reading it in one sitting!
Certainly a good read for fans of the Silver Surfer and of Marvel Cosmic in general!
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