illustration (c) José Villarrubia 2000 digital 
illustration (c) José Villarrubia 2000
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A tale of morality and the nature of man, told by an alien

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist, Colorist, Letterer: Moebius
Trade Paperback
Published by Marvel Comics 1998

Reviewed by Paul Hanna

A parable is commonly defined as a fictitious short story that displays a certain morality or a religious principle. That said, Stan Lee and Moebius’ SILVER SURFER: PARABLE, is filled with obvious religious and moral commentary. Furthermore, it uses the characters of the Silver Surfer and Galactus in a way that was previously unthought of. The tale is, as a result, rife with allegory. And the conflict between the Surfer and Galactus becomes more of an idea an less of an illustration on paper.

The Lee/Buscema Silver Surfer stories back in the ‘60s had the Surfer musing philosophically on humans and human emotion. ‘Parable’ evokes this philosophical Surfer, but adds to it that aforementioned allegory, drawn out fully by Moebius’ illustrations. ‘Parable’ is, in essence, about religion and morals, and how they don’t necessarily fit together. An idea seen before, to be sure, but ‘Parable’ reads much more like a minimalist fable. As a result, the message becomes more powerful.

The story is straightforward. Galactus returns to Earth, consumed by "the hunger." Having vowed not to threaten Earth again, he fools the populace into believing he is a god, and an evangelist assumes the role of a prophet, apparently for his own personal benefit. The people, followers of Galactus, now, do as they’re told. Galactus preaches a code of hedonism, and havoc erupts as the people follow their collective id, all in the name of religion.
"[The Silver Surfer] is certainly Christ-like in his portrayal"

The Surfer’s role here is difficult to define. He is more than just a hero. He is certainly Christ-like in his portrayal; more than once Moebius depicts him in a Christ pose (arms out, as if on a crucifix) while maintaining balance on his airborne surfboard. Yet simultaneously, the surfer himself does not seek admiration or worship in protecting the city from Galactus. In a way, he is messianic, yet he probably would not like a devoted religious following.
"[Galactus] fits the role of a 'god' wonderfully"

Galactus is monolithic in ‘Parable.’ He does nothing, merely sitting back and witnessing the man-made mayhem on the streets, provoked to action only when the Silver Surfer tells him to leave. He fits the role of a "god" wonderfully in this regard. Galactus also has human features, likening him to the Judeo-Christian God, who "created man in His image" and so forth.

Moebius’ art is more influenced by American comics here. Each panel embraces a Kirbyesque vigor that packs the panels to their borders, but Moebius manages to maintain that trademark elegance of his that makes each story he illustrates his own.

The story makes a states its criticism upon religion and morality in such a way that its impact bluntly lands on the reader’s brain. The Lee/Moebius team use small the 48-page format to its full potential. This is definitely a tale to remember.


Paul Hanna is Reviews Editor for PopImage.

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