As the 90s wound down, so did many of the superhero cartoons. By 1998, Batman had been over for a few years, X-Men (1992) had just ended and Spider-Man (1994) was coming to a close (yes, Superman was in its prime). With the landscape clear, it was the perfect time to launch a new show, Silver Surfer. If you didn’t watch, you missed out.
Marvel cosmic is a wonderfully untapped resources. Silver Surfer took full advantage of that, not relying on any previously established character or element. While Norrin Radd’s origin neglected bits like the Fantastic Four, it more than made up for it with great storytelling and appearances from other cosmic Marvel mainstays. Aside from the mandatory appearance by Galactus, Kree, and Skrulls, the Watcher, Thanos, Adam Warlock, Ego the Living Planet, Pip the Troll, Nebula, Gamora, Drax, Beta Ray Bill, and even Celestials Eternity and Infinity were present.
Some characters, like Warlock and Drax were slightly altered without explanation. One peculiar change was Nova, Frankie Raye, was now a mutant while Thanos worshiped Lady Chaos rather than Death. At least the latter made some sense.
The biggest weakness was the animation. Produced by Saban, this had a similar style to X-Men. While this was fine, the mix of computer animation, permeating nearly every scene, was obnoxious. Every vehicle and planet sported the terrible style. Galactus was the worst offend, comprised entirely of vectors and shiny bits. Mixing cel and computer animation doesn’t work in 2014, it certainly didn’t work in 1998.
Despite all this galactic goodness, there was still some problems. The plots, while dealing the same topics the Surfer comics usually did (imperialism, pacifism, environmentalism, other various isms), the character execution was poor. I hope the voice actors were paid by the word because wow, they’d certainly earn their paychecks. Nearly every character had an overwritten monologue. It was a little much. The Surfers origin certainly didn’t need three episodes. Maybe they were trying to be a little too faithful to Kirby.
For better or worse, Silver Surfer only lasted 13 episodes. The show, ending on a cliffhanger (a part 1 even), was renewed for a second season, but production fell through. Marvel had a dispute with Saban, cancelling production. Eight scripts were written, though never produced.
Silver Surfer, while not up to par with shows like Spider-Man or X-Men, was certainly better than Fantastic Four (1994). Though Marvel Studios is on a roll, with no concept too grand for film, this is one that will likely never happen, with most of the characters owned by Fox. While there’s certainly a chance for another Surfer cartoon, I wouldn’t bet on it. In the mean time, you could do worse than watch this. Much worse.
Enjoy all this Marvel cosmic goodness? Think they talked too much? Comment below!
In addition to THN’s Saturday Morning Cartoons and Nerd at the Movies, Tony writes for his own site, thecredhulk.com, about comics, video games, movies, TV and more, six days a week. You can follow his updates on Facebook or Twitter. Drop by and tell ‘em hi.
Oh, the talking.