The Silver Surfer has returned to the stars! After narrowly thwarting the assassination attempt on Galactus by the Elders of the Universe, the Surfer and Nova banished some of the Elders and their Soul Gems through a black hole. The ‘Devourer of Worlds’ then consumed the rest. Seeking a distraction after losing his beloved Mantis, the Surfer has agreed to accompany Nova on her mission to find the last of the Elders – the Contemplator – so he can face her master’s wrath. Meanwhile, the reignited Kree-Skrull War rages on…
Crossover: While this isn’t an official crossover, the story jumps from the Silver Surfer’s ongoing title to the Silver Surfer Annual as well as issues of the Fantastic Four, which are all essential chapters.
Must Reads: Story arcs marked with a ✔are must-read stories from this time period, along with any key related stories and often-forgotten tales that are worth a read.
When an issue contains multiple stories, the relevant story is denoted with square brackets. For example [2/5] refers to the second story of the five stories in that issue, so you don’t need to read the other four.
Previous stories that directly impact this one:
- THE WAR TO END ALL SKRULLS (1985) The Skrulls lose their powers
- THE WAR OF THE ELDERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987-1988) The Elders’ attempt to kill Galactus backfires
Want to keep it simple? Here’s the chronological reading order without story descriptions, or spoilers:
- Silver Surfer #11-14
- Silver Surfer Annual #1[1/4] (also see THE EVOLUTIONARY WAR)
- Silver Surfer Annual #1[2/4]
- Silver Surfer #15-18
- Silver Surfer Annual #1[3/4] (also see WEST COAST AVENGERS DISASSEMBLE!)
- Silver Surfer #19-21
- Fantastic Four #323 (also see INFERNO)
- Silver Surfer #22
- Fantastic Four #324 (also see INFERNO)
- Fantastic Four #325
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|Title & Issue Number||Synopsis & First Appearances|
|Silver Surfer #11||With the majority of the Elders of the Universe having been consumed by Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds sends Nova and the Silver Surfer to find the Contempator – the last of the Elders who conspired against him. After searching the Kree throneworld Hala and settling their differences with the new Supreme Leader Nenora, the duo are attacked by space pirates in the Coalsack Nebula. They go undercover to make their way into the ‘Sack but are captured by pirate Clumsy Foulup and his boss Captain Reptyl. Meanwhile, another Silver Surfer attacks a Kree outpost.|
|Silver Surfer #12||Reptyl mentally subdues the Surfer and Nova and uses them to power his ships until the alien Cotati assert their mental influence over Clumsy Foulup, inspiring him to free Nova. Elsewhere on the ship, the Contemplator tries to warn Reptyl of the Cotati’s actions, but he’s too late. Nova tears through the ship and attacks the fleet. Reptyl ejects the Surfer to distract her, allowing him and his crew to make their escape. Reptyl takes his frustrations out on the Contemplator by consuming him…|
|Silver Surfer #13||Ronan the Accuser foils an assassination attempt on Nenora, unaware that she’s secretly a Skrull. She who then sends Ronan on a mission to kill the Silver Surfer for breaking their truce and attacking the outpost. The Surfer and Nova find the Contemplator’s severed head in the Coalsack. The Surfer struggles to deal with the feelings he’s developing for Nova while still struggling over the death of Mantis. Elsewhere, Nenora’s false information leads Emperor Kylor and Ripan – the only Skrulls who know Nenora isn’t Kree – into a trap that results in their deaths. Another contender for the Skull throne, Emperor S’Byll, decides to make her move. The Surfer and Nova land on a devastated Kree world just as Ronan arrives, accusing the Surfer of the destruction that surrounds them. After the Surfer defeats Ronan, he’s faced with the other Silver Surfer…|
|Silver Surfer #14||The two Silver Surfers battle it out, with Nova on the side-lines unsure who to assist. She returns to the stars with the victorious Surfer who traps her in a refraction matrix and reveals himself to be a Skrull called Bartak. He took the form of the Surfer when he stood among the heroes visiting Captain Marvel on his deathbed while the real Silver Surfer was trapped on Earth. Ronan the Accuser returns with increased abilities, attacking and killing Bartak before departing. The real Surfer reunites with Nova and admits his feelings for her. Back on Earth, Skrull agent Krat crashlands his ship and is shot by racoon hunters. He fires up a flare before he dies…|
|Silver Surfer Annual #1[1/4]||The Silver Surfer and Nova go their separate ways. One week later, the High Evolutionary approaches the Eternals of Olympia, asking for their help in obtaining the DNA of the Silver Surfer in his bid to advance humanity. The Surfer returns to Earth to track down Mantis’ son, only to witness the atomic formation of the Super-Skrull. The Skrull immediately tries to kill the Surfer to avoid the news of his resurrection spreading. But the fight is interrupted by the Eternals who capture them both, taking them to Olympia to map their genetic codes against their will. They reveal the Kree-Skrull War has reignited and the that the Skrull race has lost their shape-shifting abilities. The Surfer combines his power with the Super-Skrull to force their escape. When the Skrull makes a dash for the stars, the Surfer encourages him to go. The Super-Skrull is now the only member of his race who can shapeshift (since THE WAR TO END ALL SKRULLS) and may hold the key to ending the war. The Surfer promises to keep the whereabouts of Olympia a secret if the Eternals leave him be, then decides to confront the Evolutionary…|
|Title & Issue Number||Synopsis & First Appearances|
|Silver Surfer Annual #1[2/4]||Nova returns to Galactus to find him collapsed and dying. Due to Death refusing to allow the Elders of the Universe into her realm, Galactus couldn’t consume them and they remain inside him. He asks Nova to summon the Silver Surfer, Mister Fantastic and – the one he believes his vital to his continued existence – the Invisible Woman. Nova telepathically contacts the Surfer and convinces him to call off his search for the High Evolutionary in favour of saving the life of Galactus…|
|Silver Surfer #15||Reed & Sue Richards (who recently left the Fantastic Four during ALL IN THE FAMILY (1987)) agree to help save Galactus and bring the young Franklin Richards along for the ride. Galactus asks them to retrieve the six Soul Gems lost to the black hole. The Invisible Woman must use her powers to hold the gems in order to avoid being corrupted by them. Franklin stays with Nova and Galactus while Reed & Sue pilot one of Galactus’ ships into the black hole, guided by the Surfer. They find themselves in a reality ruled by magic and locate the Possessor who was traded by the Astronomer and Trader to the Sinalinas. The Invisible Woman begins to show traits of her old Malice persona (originally exhibited during WITH MALICE TOWARDS ALL (1985)). The trio find the Astronomer, but Sue betrays them, knocking Reed out and shooting the Surfer in the head. Now Malice has the Soul gems…|
|Silver Surfer #16||Malice plans to take the Soul Gems back to her reality and let Galactus die. The Surfer finds himself a prisoner of the Astronomer and Trader, but Reed works out that the Elders can die in this realm. The Trader allows them to go free. The Surfer explains to Reed that this magic universe is ruled by two opposing beings, Lord Chaos & Master Order, who co-created the In-Betweener who is seen as the opposite of Galactus. Reed and the Surfer board Galactus’s shuttle and battle Malice, until Reed becomes the host for Adam Warlock‘s Soul Gem which tries to take the Surfer’s soul. The three of them fight it out with each other until the In-Betweener emerges from Reed’s Soul Gem, revealing himself to be the one who manipulated Reed & Sue…|
|Silver Surfer #17||The Possessor, Trader and Astronomer reveal their alliance with the In-Betweener and their plan to return to their own universe and kill Galactus, trapping Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Woman and the Silver Surfer in the magic universe. The Elder and the In-Betweener escape through the black hole, then locate Galactus and defeat Nova. Planning to usurp Galactus’ role in this reality, the In-Betweener tries and fails to kill Galactus. He breaks his deal with the Elders, deciding to hurl Galactus through the back hole and summoning Death who undoes her vow and kills the Possessor, Trader and Astronomer. Back in the magic realm, the Surfer alerts Chaos & Order to the In-Betweener’s actions. They help the Surfer, Reed & Sue return to their own reality. Chaos & Order free the consumed Elders, and heal Galactus who demands the In-Betweener’s death…|
|Silver Surfer #18||Galactus and the In-Betweener fight it out, while the Champion, Collector, Gamesmaster, Gardener and Runner bet their Soul Gems on the outcome. Franklin Richards’ parents talk him out of using the Ultimate Nullifier on the In-Betweener. Nova, the Silver Surfer and the Elders of the Universe intervene and save Galactus from the black hole while Lord Chaos & Master Order imprison the rogue In-Betweener. Galactus witnesses the Surfer and Nova’s celebration…|
|Silver Surfer Annual #1[3/4]||Mantis awakens on Earth in the home she had with her son Quoi, though she has no memory of any of it. She decides to seek out the Avengers for help…|
|Silver Surfer #19||Depleted of energy, Galactus demands Nova find him a planet, while the Surfer returns the Richards family to Earth and the Elders escape. Days later, Firelord and Starox run into Cap’n Reptyl in their continuing search for Nebula (begun duringTHE WAR TO END ALL SKRULLS (1985)). Reptyl convinces Firelord that the Silver Surfer is responsible for the death of his friend Air-Walker. The Surfer argues with Nova over her intention to lead Galactus to an inhabited world to keep him alive. Firelord attacks the Surfer while Starfox emotionally subdues Nova. Starfox realises their mistake and ends the fight by making Nova kiss Firelord and leave with him. It seems Galactus encouraged Starfox to come this way in search of Nova as part of a plan to end Nova’s relationship with his former Herald…|
|Title & Issue Number||Synopsis & First Appearances|
|Silver Surfer #20||The Silver Surfer is enraged at Nova’s betrayal and departs alone and depressed. Galactus consumes the inhabited world and refuses to let Nova – now free of Starfox’s influence – reunite with the Surfer. Firelord and Starfox resume their search for Nebula. The Super-Skrull allies with Empress S’Byll in the war against the Kree. Nenora meets with Shalla-Bal on Zenn-La to confirm that their world is safe from the Kree. A Cotati tries to tell Shalla-Bal that Nemora is a Skrull. On Earth, having snuck aboard a plane’s luggage hold, Mantis returns to America with her memories restored (following WEST COAST AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! (1988)) and pines for the Surfer.|
|Silver Surfer #21||Weeks earlier, before his beheading, the Contemplator appeared to the Obliterator and inspired the witless Elder to obtain new weapons and seek revenge on the Silver Surfer. Now, the Surfer turns down an opportunity to set things right in favour of answering a summons from Shalla-Bal. He fights his way past a Kree fleet who still believe him responsible for Bartak’s actions. Then, he confronts the Obliterator who is planning on wiping out everyone on Zenn-La. After a fight, the Surfer convinces the Obliterator that destroying Zenn-La and its people would make the Surfer an elder, so they’d be brothers. The Surfer departs, leaving the Obliterator promising to find him and kill him.|
|Fantastic Four #323||The three remaining members of the Fantastic Four – the Human-Torch, Ms Marvel and the Thing – encounter Mantis as she fends off demonically-possessed parking meters on the streets of New York. The Torch struggles to control his flame powers as they fight (all due to the events of INFERNO (1988-1989)) observed by Aron the Rogue Watcher. Aware of another of his counterparts fighting the Avengers at the same time, Kang seeks out Mantis to drain her of the powers she gained as Celestial Madonna (during THE CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA (1974-1975)) and use it against the Dreaming Celestial. He kidnaps Mantis and the FF pursue him to California. Initially, they overpower Kang but the Torch loses control of his powers, causing a massive explosion. Aboard Kang’s ship, Mantis is no longer in her containment pod…|
|Silver Surfer #22||The Silver Surfer faces the last of the vengeful Elders of the Universe when Ego the Living Planet attempts to consume him. Separated from his board, the Surfer struggles to escape Ego until he finds the propulsion unit Galactus attached to the Living Planet to send him hurtling through space. The Surfer activates the unit, sending Ego towards a sun until he relents and allows the Surfer to leave. Sensing a planet in Earth’s solar system has shifted, the Silver Surfer heads off to learn more…|
|Fantastic Four #324||Kang heads into the timestream to find out how Mantis escaped. He and the Fantastic Four return to New York to find her held by Necrodamus who freed her and put her in a simplistic deathtrap, surrounded by a magical barrier. He plans to kill her for the demon N’astirh when all the planets in the solar system align. Kang and the Human Torch throw Mercury out of alignment to ruin Necrodamus’ plan. He fades back to Limbo, while Mantis frees herself. With their mission complete, Kang abandons the Torch in space. But the Silver Surfer senses the disturbance in our solar system…|
|Fantastic Four #325||The Human Torch’s near-unquenchable flame powers keep him alive long enough for the Silver Surfer to find him and, upon hearing him mention Mantis, return him to Earth. The Surfer reunites with Mantis who explains she lost her power to transfer her consciousness across space. The High Cotati arrive and order Mantis not to try to reclaim her son, offering her instead to Kang. When she refuses, the FF, Mantis and the Silver Surfer fend off an attack from Kang and the Priests of Pama until Mantis uses her mental powers to drive off the High Cotati. Kang escapes. Mantis kisses the Surfer, then sends her consciousness out of her body to search for her son, allowing her physical body to die in the Surfer’s arms. The Silver Surfer departs having lost the woman he loves once more…|
|Must Reads||Issue & Fallout||Event / Crossover|
|✔||Avengers Annual #17 (1988)|
The High Evolutionary is ultimately defeated by an unusual line-up of Avengers.
|THE EVOLUTIONARY WAR|
PRIDE GOETH BEFORE THE FALL
|Avengers #300 (1989)|
The divergent Kang who’s battling the Avengers while N’astirh’s demons invade Earth fades from existence due to the effect of the Bubble at the Heart of Time.
|✔||Uncanny X-Men #242 (1989)|
N’astirh’s plan is thwarted when Storm of the X-Men hits him with a lightning bolt, killing him.
|✔||Silver Surfer #23 (1989)|
The Silver Surfer returns to space, accepting his solitude and sorrow.
|✔||Silver Surfer #25-28 (1989)|
The Silver Surfer is drawn into the reignited Kree-Skrull War, ending the Kree’s agreement to leave Zenn-La out of the conflict; the Surfer aids the Super-Skrull in the first steps towards returning the Skrulls’ lost shapeshifting powers, granting Empress S’Byll the means to do so; mysterious figure goading Clumsy Foulup into turning against Captain Reptyl is revealed to be the ‘Contemplator’.
|THE KREE-SKRULL WAR II|
|✔||Avengers #301-303 (1989)|
Starfox and Firelord’s pursuit of Nebula is interrupted again when the last survivor of Xandar, Garthan Saal, assaults them both; Starfox manages to get to Earth in time to warn the Avengers before Saal attacks as Super Nova, believing them to be an ally of Nebula due to her alleged involvement with the previous Avengers line-up (though it was actually a disguised Ravonna Renslayer); Firelord’s pursuit of Nebula ends here.
|Marvel Graphic Novel #38: Silver Surfer – Judgement Day (1988)|
Mephisto stirs up Nova’s feelings for her master, Galactus, and takes her captive; Mephisto uses Nova as bait to lure in the Silver Surfer in his next attempt to steal the Surfer’s soul.
|✔||Fantastic Four #326-333 (1989)|
Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman rejoin the Fantastic Four; Mister Fantastic helps the Torch regain control of his powers; the Thing us reverted to human form, losing his mutated appearance; Aron the Rogue Watcher and Dragon Man ally with the Frightful Four against the Fantastic Four; Aron temporarily replaces the Fantastic Four with his own clones.
|✔||Silver Surfer #28 (1989)|
Captain Reptyl publically kills the Super-Skrull; Clumsy Foulup turns against Reptyl.
|THE KREE-SKRULL WAR II|
|✔||Avengers West Coast #48 (1989)|
Starfox finally tracks down Nebula.
|GREAT LAKES AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!|
|✔||Silver Surfer #29-31 (1989)|
S’Byll restores Nenora’s shapeshifting abilities, revealing her to be a Skrull; Foulup hijacks the Contemplator’s plan to take over the Kree Empire when he becomes a Kree hero; the Supreme Intelligence returns, though under the control of a Cotat, and appoints Clumsy Foulup as Emperor of the Kree.
|THE KREE-SKRULL WAR II|
|Fantastic Four #337-341 (1990)|
The Bubble at the Heart of Time that was discovered by the Council of Cross-Time Kangs is revealed to have been caused by the Black Celestial of Earth-8810, increasing the hunger of Galactus from that same universe; the Fantastic Four of Earth-616 use Earth-8810’s Ultimate Nullifier to kill Galactus and end the threat of the Time Bubble.
|✔||Thanos Quest #1-2 (1990)|
Thanos takes the Soul Gems from the Elders of the Universe and the In-Betweener, killing some of the Elders in order to do so; Thanos renames the Soul Gems, calling them the Infinity Gems, and reveals the purpose and abilities of each gem.
|REBIRTH OF THANOS|
|Fantastic Four #350, 352-354 (1991)|
The Thing is returned to his more familiar rocky appearance; Ms Marvel finally relents and accepts an offer from Doctor Doom’s cure her rocky form, betraying the Fantastic Four, leaving the team and ending her relationship with the Thing.
|✔||Fantastic Four Annual #24 (1991)|
Captain Reptyl learns Clumsy Foulup is in charge of the Kree; the Super-Skrull is revealed to be alive and defies orders to keep his survival a secret in favour of killing Reptyl.
|✔||Thor Annual #16 (1991)|
Ego the Living Planet tricks Beta Ray Bill into destroying the propulsion unit Galactus attached to him.
|✔||Silver Surfer #51 (1991)|
The Silver Surfer finally convinces Nova not to lead Galactus to inhabited worlds.
Infinity Gauntlet #1 (1991)
Adam Warlock emerges from the Soul Gem, taking on a physical form once more.
Silver Surfer #53 (1991)
Clumsy Foulup is assassinated by Ael-Dan & Dar-Benn of the Kree who take the throne for themselves.
Silver Surfer #57 (1991)
Captain Reptyl’s corpse goes into a chrysalis state.
|THE INFINITY GAUNTLET|
|✔||Silver Surfer #64-65 (1992)|
Reptyl emerges from his chrysalis as the monstrous Reptyl Prime and battles the Silver Surfer.
|Warlock and the Infinity Watch #2 (1992)|
After briefly holding the power of all six Infinity Gems, Adam Warlock retains the Soul Gem and acts as its guardian once again.
|✔||Quasar #37 (1992)|
The real Contemplator returns, revealing that the ‘Contemplator’ who tried to take over the Kree had been impersonating him.
|THE INFINITY WAR|
|Infinity War #1 (1992)|
The time-hopping Kang next shows up allying with Doctor Doom to steal the source of the Magus‘ power.
Infinity War #5 (1992)
Quasar is the next person to wield the Ultimate Nullifier when Thanos convinces him to fire it at the Magus; the weapon ended up nullifying Quasar instead.
|THE INFINITY WAR|
|✔||Fantastic Four #369-370 (1992)|
The Invisible Woman defeats her Infinity Doppelganger by drawing its evil into herself, which allows her Malice persona to influence her once again.
|THE INFINITY WAR|
|✔||Silver Surfer #70-75 (1992)|
Nova’s newfound compassion angers Galactus, resulting in her being replaced as his Herald by the ruthless Morg; the Silver Surfer, Nova, Firelord and the other Heralds join forces against Morg; Nova is killed in the final battle, breaking the Surfer’s heart.
|✔||Quasar #47-48 (1993)|
The ‘Contemplator’ who had been working with the Elders to kill Galactus is revealed to have been a Skrull; the Skrull is taken away to stand trial; the Obliterator is next seen, fighting alongside his fellow Elders of the Universe; the Possessor is revealed to be back among the living
|✔||Fantastic Four #384 (1994)|
Psi-Lord (the teenage Franklin Richards from an alternate future) draws Malice out of the Invisible Woman and into himself, freeing her of Malice’s influence.
|FOUR NO MORE!|
|✔||Galactus the Devourer #1-6 (1999)|
The Silver Surfer and Earth’s heroes defeat Galactus’ merciless new Herald Red Shift when he leads his master to Earth to consume it; the Surfer briefly becomes Galactus’ Herald again to prevent him from devouring the Earth; Mantis is reunited with the Silver Surfer, though she can’t condone his retaking his role as Herald of Galactus and they part ways.
|✔||Maximum Security #1 (2000)|
Reptyl is revealed to have returned to something approximating his original form.
|✔||Avengers: Celestial Quest #1-8 (1999-2000)|
Mantis’ psyche is revealed to have manifested as five separate beings, each with a different part of her core persona; a Thanosi acting as the real Thanos murders four of the fives Mantis beings until the fifth gains all fragments of her persona back again; the Thanosi tries to kill Sequoia – the Celestial Messiah and son of Mantis – with help from Captain Reptyl but he’s protected by the Avengers and reunited with Mantis; Reptyl redeems himself by turning against ‘Thanos’.
|✔||Annihilation: Ronan #3 (2006)|
The Astronomer is seen among the Elders of the Universe once again, having somehow returned to life.
|Thanos Annual #1 (2014)|
Thanos explains that Lord Chaos & Master Order are actually below Infinity and Eternity in the cosmic hierarchy.
|✔||Contest of Champions #6 (2015)|
A flashback sequence reveals the Trader has somehow returned to life.
ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT MARVEL
|✔||Spirits of Vengeance #1-5 (2017-2018)|
Necrodamus finally escapes Limbo, but is opposed Blade, Ghost Rider, Hellstorm and Satana.
|Lords of Empyre: Swordsman #1 (2020)|
When Alchemax operatives destroy the Cotati grove in Vietnam, Sequoia goes against his prophesied role as Celestial Messiah and becomes intent on killing all ‘animals’ starting with the warring Kree and Skrulls.
Empyre #1-6 (2020)
Sequoia transforms the Cotati into the Empyre and focuses on killing meat-based life throughout the cosmos; Mantis tries to reach out to her son, but he’s ultimately defeated by the Avengers and refuses to change his stance.
|✔||Fantastic Four #28 (2021)|
When the Griever at the End of All Things threatens all reality, Mister Fantastic instructs the Silver Surfer to give the Ultimate Nullifier to Franklin Richards as the only person in the universe capable of using the weapon; Franklin doesn’t need to use the Nullifier due to Mister Fantastic finding an alternative solution.
See how this story fits into the wider Marvel Universe continuity with these reading orders:
Reading Order ©OmniverseComicsGuide 2023