Silver Surfer’s adventures with Dawn Greenwood quietly turned the cosmic-level hero into Marvel’s version of the BBC’s Doctor Who.
The Silver Surfer is one of Marvel’s most powerful characters. His presence in a story often hints at the cosmic nature that the plot is about to take, usually with some very big reprecussions and consequences on the line. Even recent events like “The Reckoning War” have carried on that tradition, highlighting his alien nature.
But his humanity was on full display in Vol. 7 and Vol. 8 of the Silver Surfer series. Dan Slott, Mike Allred, and Laura Allred’s take on the character was firmly rooted in his humanity as he traveled the cosmos alongside his unlikely human companion, Dawn. Along the way, Surfer effectively became Marvel’s version of Doctor Who.
What Happened During Silver Surfer & Dawn Greenwood’s Travels
The 2014 and 2016 relaunches of Silver Surfer carried over much of the same creative team and general direction, recasting the former Herald of Galactus as a curious wanderer of the cosmos. The characterization of him was a softer sort than he’d been in the past. After being tasked with battling the Queen of Nevers while on his cosmic travels, Silver Surfer found himself with an unlikely companion on his journeys — a human woman named Dawn Greenwood. At the time she was fated to become very important to the Surfer despite the fact, they’d never met beforehand. Still serving as her champion and saving her life (even as she helped save the lives of others), Silver Surfer quickly befriended Dawn and allowed her to explore the universe alongside him.
The two faced off with plenty of threats during their time together, helping bring down Nightmare, escaping the events of Secret Wars, and helping restore Eternity and the multiverse. Along the way, the pair fell in love. When an attempt to give Dawn some final time with her deceased father landed them in the universe that existed before the modern Earth-616, the pair decided to make the best of their time together and lived a long, happy life. When she eventually passed away, the Surfer (restoring himself to his true form with the Power Cosmic) used the last of her life force within the machine that eventually would create Galactus. This made Dawn the first light seen in the modern universe and a part of the Power Cosmic.
Why Silver Surfer Is Marvel’s Doctor Who
This take on Silver Surfer reinvigorated the human side of the character beyond just his cosmic potential. In this way, this take on the character became something of a Marvel answer to Doctor Who. The classic BBC sci-fi series focuses on the titular Doctor, an alien Time-Lord who travels across space and time aboard his TARDIS. The Doctor’s typical curiosity and kindness masked a deep well of regret and grief — very similar to the way the books portrayed the Surfer. Like the TARDIS, the Surfer’s board serves as a transport across entire galaxies in moments. The series highlighted the little personality and quirks of the board, similar to how the TARDIS is often shown having something of its own personality.
The adventures the Surfer and Dawn experienced were also rooted in quirky sci-fi similar to the Doctor’s often wacky and unpredictable exploits. Dawn in particular makes the comparison obvious, as she became the Surfer’s companion much in the same way as the Doctor picks up travelers to accompany them. In many ways, Dawn is similar to Rose Tyler, the first companion of the 21st-century iteration of Doctor Who. Like Dawn, she was a curious and clever young woman with dreams of seeing the world — given the chance to see everything thanks to a cosmic stranger.
A love story even played out between the two, which likewise ended in a bittersweet tragedy. For the Doctor and Rose, the latter was trapped on a parallel Earth with a copy of the Doctor, able to live out her life with the man she loved while the Doctor continued his travels. Dawn likewise got the chance to live a full life with her cosmic stranger, only for the alien explorer to carry on after her. While the Silver Surfer’s presence usually means a story is about to become more dangerous, it’s good to remember that the Surfer can also easily become Marvel’s version of a long-running sci-fi icon.