When the Fantastic Four were successful in turning away the awesome Galactus, they did it with the help of his turncoat herald the Silver Surfer. The Surfer was rebuked by his master by having his space-spanning powers curtailed and being isolated on the Earth. So in between the appearances of the mighty Galactus we are treated to the misadventures of the Surfer on Earth.
His first battle comes against the Thing in Fantastic Four #55 when the Surfer pays a little too much attention to Ben Grimm's main squeeze Alicia Masters. The two battle around in classic Marvel style before making amends.
When the Surfer next appears in Fantastic Four #57, he is traveling the globe investigating the human race and finding that much of the population is a little less noble than one would ideally hope.
Surprisingly naive he falls into the clutches of arch-fiend Doctor Doom who uses guile to catch the Surfer off guard and technology to steal his cosmic powers. The Surfer is imprisoned in Doom's castle in Latveria.
Doom then makes the most of his new powers and flies across the planet raising all kinds of hell. The FF learn of this new menace but are at first at a loss at how to contend with their enemy's new-found might.
While Doctor Doom revels in his powers and pranks the planet the Inhumans escape the Great Refuge when Black Bolt finally speaks.
The menace of the cosmic Doom is finally put to rest when Reed Richards cooks up a gadget which is enlarged by the military and which tricks the bad Doctor into heading into space and cracking his noggin against the barrier that Galactus had set up to keep the Surfer on Earth. Doom's fate is uncertain but the cosmic might returns to the Silver Surfer and he takes his leave of Latveria.
When next we encounter the Silver Surfer it is not in the pages of the Fab 4,but rather in Tales to Astonish #92 in an incredible Hulk story. The Surfer appears to the Hulk at the end of one issue with the intent of helping the man monster.
The Hulk and the Surfer battle it out needless to say, as the Surfer's attempts to end the curse of the Hulk for Bruce Banner are met with rejection by the Hulk and the Surfer leaves him to wander across the globe yet more.
Next time the Surfer gets his very own story in the pages of Fantastic Four King-Size Special #5 where he again tries to help a suffering soul. This time that soul is the living computer Quasimodo (Quasi-Motivational Destruct Organ) who has been abandoned by his creator the Mad Thinker. The Surfer imbues the creature with a true body and allows him to follow his evil ambitions. The Surfer regrets his assistance and battles Quasimodo, ultimately transforming him into a statue.
And finally in Fantastic Four #72, the Surfer seeks to bring the violent world of Earth together against a common foe. That common enemy will be the Surfer himself as he tears across the planet seemingly attacking humanity. The FF confront him and he sees the errors of his approach.
The Silver Surfer of these stories is a profoundly naive figure, a fact which seems at odds with his seemingly long service to Galactus. One gets the sense the Surfer was a figure of great power created from atoms by Galactus and is consequently free of any context to understand the complex world he has adopted. He is utterly a stranger in a strange land, unable to grok the complexity of motivations. He seems to be a figure motivated to do good deeds, but as often as not those efforts fail, often because of the flawed nature of those he seeks to help. After attempting to acclimate to the Earth, the Surfer will eventually attempt to escape it, but that's for the next story.
The stage is set finally for the return of the Surfer's master the might Galactus. More on that next time.