The Silver Surfer #9: "'--To Steal The Surfer's Soul!"

The Silver Surfer #9
 "-- To Steal The Surfer's Soul!"
 October, 1969

 Stan Lee: Author
 John Buscema: Illustrator
 Embellished By: Dan Adkins
 Lettered By: Sam Rosen

 Mephisto has ordered the ghost of the Flying Dutchman to snare the soul of the Silver Surfer! Now, the most unusual battle begins...!

 Mephisto does not intend to wait for the Surfer to appear, and prods him from his netherworld realm! The Surfer senses danger on the planet below! The danger seems to be coming from one particular direction! The authorities draw a cordon around the Flying Dutchman's ship and wait for the ghost to show himself!

 Their shells prove ineffective against a force-field surrounding the ship! The ghost wants the Silver Surfer... or else their city will crumble! The one he seeks is above him! ZAT! Although the ghost is shielded from shotgun shells, his power cosmic are able to strike at will! Only because the ghost has allowed it!

 Now that the Surfer is here -- the ghost's work is done! For soon, the Flying Dutchman will soon have the rest he has long sought! The Surfer knows of the legend of the Flying Dutchman -- the legend of one who is long dead! This ghost who dares to strike out at the living, now serves Mephisto!

 It is the fire and brimstone that brought him here, and now the ghost will defeat him by causing him to relinquish his very soul! Those below cannot hear what is being said above them... nor would they begin to understand! The Surfer cannot unleash his power cosmic without harming those below!

 If he is to survive, there must be another way! It appears that the ghost has an easy victory, but Mephisto has given him the ability to sense deception! The one who sought to deceive him must now pay the price of his folly!

 His board will protect him from the ghost's assault, but for how long? Long enough for the Surfer to flee! There can be no flight, for the Flying Dutchman's ship is following him... with a speed that rivals his own!

 His legs have been seized from his board! Mephisto informed the ghost how to foil the Surfer's escape, and now they will see how well he flies... without his board!

 There is no relief from the attack, for a ghost never tires! PHZAMM! And the Silver Surfer never surrenders! He may fight on until the very end, for time has no meaning to the ghost! Even as the board soars to save him, how can the Surfer harm the ghost or his vessel? Mephisto is confident that the Silver Surfer shall soon fall -- and that he must be present when that happens!

 Never has Mephisto awaited a soul such as this! Never has he craved a victory over such a being! He can contain himself no longer and hastens to the upper world! Mephisto must claim the most precious prize of all!

 He appears in a sudden burst of smoke and the stench of fire and brimstone! Mephisto walks the Earth once more! None may gaze upon the lord of the nether-realm!

 Since the humans are less than nothing to him, Mephisto renders himself beyond their sight... and beyond their most recent memories! The police officer waits until he is off duty! A pedestrian hails a cab and another gazes at the lovely dress in the window! Mephisto must find the one he seeks, then be gone before he is overcome by the aura of goodness emanating from mankind! The Surfer is oblivious to his presence, as he tries to draw the Flying Dutchman away from the city!

 The Surfer is hit by his unseen foe! Now, the ghost strikes in the name of Mephisto, and the promise of eternal rest! SPROKKKKKKKKKK

 BUROOM! The Surfer falls through to the subway tunnel below! Mephisto watches invisibly as the subway train is pulling in, and others try to save his intended victim! Nothing short of his own cosmic power can save him! The power cosmic is enough to halt the subway train in its tracks in the span of a microsecond! SSKREEEEE

 The ghost knows that the Surfer has only succeeded in temporarily postponing the inevitable! He has no wish to slay him! Too many have already died because of him! The Flying Dutchman must find peace! He must find eternal rest, for he has no other choice! ZAM! The Surfer's power cosmic endures, enough to send the ghost back, and to defy the will of Mephisto! No matter how strong Mephisto's evil may be... he can never prevail against that which is good! The ghost cannot endure the Surfer's lies!

 As they are about to determine truth from falsehood, the Surfer summons his board, and the moment of truth has come! Mephisto causes the board to halt in mid-air! He bids the Dutchman to strike -- again and again until the Surfer relinquishes his very soul! The ghost wants this to end and for the Surfer to give up his soul willingly to one who cannot be denied!
> The Silver Surfer cannot bow to evil! If death must come, let it be his own! Life is fleeting, but the soul is eternal! The Surfer would spent a million eternities in timeless limbo -- than to be without his soul for the span of a single heartbeat! The flesh bleeds, but only the soul endures! Mephisto has heard enough!

 The humans are his weakness and Mephisto bids the ghost to seize one to threaten! Now, the Surfer has no choice but to pledge his soul to Mephisto... or to know he has caused this woman to death! He would relinquish his own life again and again... but this is too much! The ghost must have been human once! He must have lived, and breathed, and loved! Has his heart grown so cold that he has forgotten... UNHHH! The ghost will hear no more! The Surfer must do as he says... or else the woman will be next!

 He can endure the ghost's blasts, but not the woman! He must yield! The ghost means what he says, but how can the Surfer yield his soul at the cost of an innocent life! There must be a way! There is always a way! He must find the seed within the evil and cause its own destruction! He calls forth his power cosmic and hurls it!

 The ghost is struck down, but the woman is safe! Even so, the Surfer has drained himself completely, and Mephisto has given the ghost renewed strength! If he attacks the Surfer once more, he will win! Having seen that he is not beyond redemption, Van Straaten renounces his pledge and will serve him no more! The lord of the nether realm has failed again! Van Straaten has sacrificed much and the Surfer hopes he can one day find the peace he had sought!

 His only sin was weakness and he found the necessary strength... too late! The Surfer has shed a tear on the ghost's behalf -- and the curse of the Flying Dutchman has ended! Van Straaten is now free from limbo! He can no longer be harmed by Mephisto, who has lost two victims... and his hatred feeds upon itself... for he cannot accept defeat! He is gone, but will strike again on another day! The Surfer may lose his life but once... but his soul remains his own!

 The ghost of Van Straaten returned in Avengers #131-#132 as one of Kang's Legion of the Unliving.

 Mephisto first appeared in The Silver Surfer #3, where he sought "The Power And The Prize!"

 Thanks to his power cosmic, the Surfer is more powerful than a subway train.

 Limbo is the realm where the Space Phantom, the Dire Wraiths, and Immortus dwell.

 Steve Chung
 "--To Steal The Surfer's Review!"