One of the first objectives of the Defenders was to free the Silver Surfer from the cosmic barrier that trapped him on Earth. To much chagrin, the attempt failed (Defenders #3).
But why was the Silver Surfer trapped on Earth in the first place?
While working as the herald of Galactus, the Silver Surfer had scouted the Milky Way for a planet with the energy and resources necessary to sustain his master (Fantastic Four #48).
Soon after he arrived on Earth, a chance encounter with sculptress Alicia Masters persuaded the Surfer that it was wrong to let Galactus devour the planet (#49).
So in defense of humanity, the cosmic champion turned against Galactus (#50).
- Silver Surfer: These are not ants, master! They think … they feel … they have even created the primitive civilization which we see all about us!
Unapologetically regarding himself as the top of the cosmic food chain, Galactus accused his herald of betrayal.
- Silver Surfer: Betray you?? Never! But in truth I should betray myself if I did not fight to prevent the annihilation of a people! For here … on this lonely little world … I have found what men call … conscience!
All this time, the extraterrestrial Watcher had been observing the battle. At last, he decided to break his code of neutrality and intervene. With the Watcher's assistance, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four stepped in and unveiled the Ultimate Nullifier, a weapon so powerful that it drove off Galactus.
As far as Silver Surfer was concerned, however, the eater of world got the last word.
- Galactus: Since you shall be herald to Galactus no longer, I remove your space-time powers! Henceforth, the Silver Surfer shall roam the galaxies no more!
The Silver Surfer had been ready to die to spare the Earth. But for all his nobility, could he endure the emotional shortcomings and ethical lapses he might find among humankind?