The story opens with the Silver Surfer cruising through space (in the Marvel universe) and being all melancholy, as usual. He comes across a horrific scene -- a planet has been destroyed, and the remains of its inhabitants are floating in space. In the midst of all of the carnage is the one responsible -- the decidedly NON-Marvel Universe baddie Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman.
The Surfer is more than a little put out, because the planet in question was one he'd managed to save from planet-eater Galactus way back when the Surfer was Galactus' herald. The Surfer confronts Henshaw, who isn't impressed -- and, after all, it wasn't HIS fault that the planet was too wussy to endure his attempts to turn it into a WarWorld. The Surfer, of course, feels obligated to deal with this planet destroyer. He and Henshaw quickly go head-to-head and start pounding the bejeezus out of each other.
Space travel, intergalactic super powers, and colors in their names — with that much in common, it was only a matter of time before Silver Surfer and Green Lantern faced each other in the ultimate contest: Fandom Deathmatch!
Silver Surfer has the Power Cosmic, a loosely-defined ability to travel faster than light, manipulate energy and matter, live in extreme conditions (such as the vacuum of space or inside an active star), and make things sound more official by putting the superlative before the noun it modifies. The Surfer got this amorphous power from Galactus, a super-powerful being from the beginning of time who devours planets like a fat kid with a plate full of cookie dough.
Green Lantern’s source of power is his ring. The ring’s source of power is a green lantern. The lantern’s source of power is a giant generator that runs off willpower located deep below the surface of a planet in the center of the universe. The generator was created by immortal all-powerful short bald guys with bad tempers
The ring gives Green Lantern a protective force field that, like the Surfer, allows him to survive in extreme conditions. It doesn’t manipulate matter and energy like the Surfer’s Power Cosmic, but it does create energy fields that create whatever weapon or device the ring bearer can imagine.
So far, they seem to be even. Of course, Green Lantern is a law enforcement and peacekeeping Corps, not a person, so before we go any further we need to specify which Green Lantern would face off against the Surfer. It has to be Hal Jordan. He’s had the longest run. Plus, he’s the one they’re going to make the movie about.
Hal knows no fear, was a test pilot before the ring found him, and has a grotesquely large amount of willpower. Silver Surfer, on the other hand, was a cosmologist, and spent the first couple decades after his transformation into the Surfer as a mindless drone.
However, since reasserting his free will, Silver Surfer likes to refer to his righteousness and goes around pondering the deeper philosophical questions of life. Being created as a character during the ’60s, he’s basically an intergalactic hippie with a cool ride.
Hal, on the other hand, has discipline. He’s a second-generation military pilot. He was created as a character in the ’60s too, but he’s the other side of the ’60s coin. The anti-hippie.
A Fandom Deathmatch between these two means interstellar chase scenes, mind-blowing energy blasts, and the destruction of countless asteroids and other stray celestial bodies. Jordan manifests a giant fly swatter and smacks Surfer across the solar system. Surfer recovers and shoots a massive energy blast from his hands. Jordan creates a giant trampoline and bounces that energy back at the Surfer, who raises the nose of his surfboard and absorbs the energy into nothingness. It’s exciting for a time, but after a while the stalemate is annoying. Let’s skip ahead a bit.
The match will be decided not by powers, but by who can use his powers most effectively. The Surfer would eventually outlast Jordan because, although the ring is powerful, Jordan is still human and needs to do things like eat or sleep. As Jordan tires, and can’t last any longer, he hits upon a solution. Summoning all his willpower, he creates an enormous green tidal wave. The surfer, being a surfer dude hippie at heart, can’t resist and tries to ride the wave like Patrick Swayze in Point Break. Victory: Silver Surfer.
Power and Ability
The Silver Surfer wields the Power Cosmic, granting him superhuman strength, stamina, durability, senses and the ability to absorb and manipulate the universe's ambient energy for a variety of effects. The Surfer can navigate through interstellar space, dimensional barriers, and hyperspace, which he can enter to exceed the speed of light when flying on his board, and has even proven capable of time travel on several occasions, even able to make others time-travel with him.
The Surfer sustains himself by converting matter into energy; does not require food, water, air, or sleep (although he occasionally enters a sleep-like meditation in order to dream); and can survive within nearly any known natural environment, including deep space, hyperspace, and even within black holes and stars. The Surfer can analyze and manipulate matter and energy, and molecularly restructure or animate matter at will such as causing vegetation to grow much quicker, even transmuting elements or creating objects. He can also project energy in various forms for offensive and defensive use, including the erection of force shields, bolts of cosmic force powerful enough to destroy entire planets, and create black holes. He can utilize the Power Cosmic to augment his superhuman strength to indeterminate levels. The Surfer can heal living organisms, though he cannot raise the dead, and he has proven capable of revitalizing and evolving organic life on a planet-wide scale. He can alter the size of himself or of other matter, cast illusions, create interdimensional portals,  and phase through solid matter.
His senses enable him to detect objects and concentrations of energy light years away and to perceive matter and energy in subatomic detail, including life energies of living beings. The Surfer can even see through time, and with concentration he can achieve limited perception of past and future events in his general vicinity. He has demonstrated telepathic ability, including mind-reading on occasion, and has proven to be able to influence human emotion and sensation.
The Surfer's board is composed of a nearly impervious, cosmically powered silvery material that is similar to his own skin. The board is mentally linked to the Surfer and moves in response to his mental commands even when he is not in physical contact with it. The board is nearly indestructible, but on those rare occasions when it has been damaged or destroyed, the Surfer has proven able to repair it, or even recreate it, with little effort. The Surfer can attack opponents remotely by directing the board against them, and the board is capable of absorbing and imprisoning other beings, at least temporarily.
When Galactus exiled the Surfer to Earth, his means of imprisonment was linked to the board. When the Surfer and the Fantastic Four realized this, the Surfer put it to the test by leaving the board planet-side and entering space in the Four's spacecraft. Once he was free of Earth, the Surfer remotely converted the board to energy, recalled it to him, and reformed it in space.
Each Green Lantern wields a power ring that can generate a variety of effects, sustained purely by the ring wearer's imagination and strength of will. The greater the user's willpower, the more effective the ring. The upper limits of the power ring's abilities remain undefined, and it has been referred to as "the most powerful weapon in the universe" on more than one occasion. The Weaponers of Qward say that every weapon has a weakness and the weakness of a green lantern power ring is its wearer (though some argue that this is its strength). Across the years, the rings have been shown capable of accomplishing almost anything within the imagination of the ring bearer. Stories in 2006 retconned the ring's long-established ineffectiveness on yellow objects, stating that the ring-wielder need only feel fear, understand it and overcome it in order to affect yellow objects (however, it is a learned and practiced ability, making it a weakness to some Green Lanterns), giving retroactive credence to the explanation of the ring's real but surmountable weakness to yellow.
Power rings as used by various wielders have exhibited (but are not limited to) the following effects:
- Constructs of green 'solid-energy,' which can vary from microscopic to tremendous in size and/or complexity and are limited by the imagination of the ring's wielder. This can be used to attack, defend, or to grab targets (Pre-Crisis, the rings generated telekinetic skills without constructs, if needed).
- Force field generation, a somewhat protective aura (limited by user's willpower) used to shield the wearer from the rigors of the vacuum of space. This provides a breathable atmosphere for the user as well. Contrary to older canon, a Green Lantern ring currently does not automatically protect its wearer from harm but must be willed to do so (previously, an unconscious wielder generated a protective force field automatically).
- Generation of mental "earplugs" to block out telepathic communication and manipulation.
- Rendering targets invisible.
- Lights and beams of various intensity and colors, such as destructive plasma and harmless multicolored lights.
- Movement capabilities:
- Flight, including flight at speeds beyond that of light, although this creates an enormous expenditure of energy.
- Relatively instantaneous transport across the galaxy and other distances through generated wormholes
- Teleportation (an ability that has not been used in quite some time and is outside the ability of modern Green Lanterns. In modern stories, only the Indigo Rings allow instantaneous teleportation)
- Pre-Crisis, the rings allowed for travel faster than the speed of light.
- Time travel, though several power rings are needed to complete this.
- The rings can act as semi-sentient computers and access information through their connection with the Book of Oa; the rings have problem-solving skills but they cannot make decisions or take actions on their own, and must be given directives by the wearer:
- Translation of nearly all languages (originally, this was accomplished by using willpower, but this has changed in the modern era to be a function of the rings themselves).
- Communication between ringwielders, regardless of distance apart
- Diagnostic capabilities, allowing the user to see in X-Ray, diagnose illnesses, and identify materials.
- Mental powers of various stages:
- Changing the state of targeted matter and the wearer:
- Allowing targets and the wearer to phase through solid objects
- Rendering the wearer and targets invisible
- Accelerated healing of wounds, protection and treatment from viruses and biological attacks and certain surgical procedures including reattachment of severed limbs and digits. More advanced medical procedures may be performed manually and are limited by the wearer's knowledge of medicine. Pre-Crisis, a wearer could instantaneously reinvigorate limbs that had not been used in years, so someone bedridden for years could walk as though their muscles had not atrophied.
- Virtual shape-shifting by generating a hard-light holographic disguise around the ring bearer.
- "Digitizing" the wearer to absorb them into the ring where they can live in a wearer-generated "world" of their own nearly indefinitely.
- Pre-Crisis, a ring could alter a being's molecular size (including shrinking to an atomic level or growing to galactic sizes), evolutionary stage (such as turning a target human into an ape), or distort specific targeted areas of the body (slowing the Flash down by making his upper torso too large for him to run). Or allow the wearer to target the rings power on himself, allowing him to grow to unlimited size.
- Pre-Crisis, a wearer could animate non-living matter and make the target do whatever he willed.
- Pre-Crisis, the rings could create a construct of a ring that a "non-Lantern" could use for 4 hours at a time (as opposed to 24) without a great effort of will.
- Pre-Crisis, a ring could create multiple copies of its wearer if certain conditions were met; each copy had the capabilities of the original wearer.
- In Green Lantern: First Flight Sinestro was able to "reconnect synapses" in the brain of a dead criminal in order to extract information via a kind of guided discussion.