Posted by:
Byron Brewer

Brew's Crew: The muse of the Surfer's soul, Shalla-Bal of Zenn-La!



(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with cosmic comics and their many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)

By Byron Brewer

Shalla-Ball of Zenn-La was the true love of Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer. While trapped here on Earth, he dreamed of her and even rescued her from Mephisto a time or two. Once released from his Earth captivity, he rushed to her side but … well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Shalla-Bal is the Empress of her utopian planet, Zenn-La (in the Deneb System, Milky Way Galaxy, I believe), and was the lover of Norrin Radd. When the planet-eating Galactus came to their world, Norrin Radd volunteered to become the Herald of Galactus in exchange for sparing Zenn-La. Norrin Radd was given the Power Cosmic and became the Silver Surfer, thus separating him from his true love for a long. long time.

Eventually, the Surfer rebelled against Galactus, who trapped him on Earth as punishment. Mephisto, who desires to defeat the Surfer and steal his noble soul, sensed the anguish of this separation within him, and used Shalla-Bal as a pawn in his conflict with the Surfer. As part of a conspiracy Mephisto replaced the consciousness of Shalla-Bal so that she believed herself to be a regular citizen of Latveria named Helena, and Dr. Doom organized a false marriage celebration with her in order to make the Surfer fight the Fantastic Four.

Meanwhile, Galactus consumed the life energies and ecosphere of Zenn-La because of the Surfer's betrayal, but spared the lives of its people by warning them of his coming beforehand, allowing them to return to the lifeless husk afterwards. When Reed Richards freed the Surfer from his imprisonment, he returned to Zenn-La to find it in this state and learned that Shalla-Bal had been abducted by Mephisto. Finally understanding the conspiracy Surfer returned to Latveria to find Shalla-Bal, imprisoning himself once again on Earth.

The Surfer bestowed a portion of his Power Cosmic to Shalla-Bal while Mephisto was sending her back to her planet, and she was able to use this power to restore the life on Zenn-La. She was thus accepted as an Empress by her people. However the responsibilities of her office made Shalla-Bal refuse marriage with the Surfer when he eventually broke free from Earth again, and he told her that their romance was over. She was later held hostage by the Elders of the Universe, but was rescued again by the Silver Surfer.

Shalla-Bal later met the Kree leader, Nenora. She asked the Surfer to protect Zenn-La from the Obliterator and made an alliance with the Skrull Empress S’byll against the Kree. She was informed by the Cotati that Nenora was actually a disguised Skrull. Shalla was captured by Nenora's Kree Sentry, but freed by the Cotati. She told S'byll and the Surfer about Nenora's true nature, and was returned to Zenn-La by the Surfer.

Shalla was later taken captive by the Enslavers, and was then reunited with the Surfer. Shalla-Bal was later abducted with the planet Zenn-La by the Great One. She was briefly reunited with the Silver Surfer, but disintegrated along with the Great One's pocket universe. The Surfer later sought to return her to life.

After years of rejection, Shalla-Bal once became romantically involved with Fennan Radd, a man who claimed to be the Silver Surfer's half-brother by his father. Fennan claimed to have been born after Norrin's mother Elmar committed suicide. Shalla never seemed happy with Ferran, often thinking of the Surfer.

In a shocker, it was later revealed to the Silver Surfer that Zenn-La and everyone on it was just an elaborate illusion created by Galactus so the Surfer would have a place to call home when he was free from Galactus' service. Zenn-La and all its inhabitants had been killed by The Other in the Earth year 1947.

Surfer said his last goodbyes to his beloved Shalla-Bal before she and the entire planet evaporated before his eyes.

Whatever Shalla-Bal’s future, if there is indeed a Shall to worry about, will be something the Surfer may take up later in Marvel NOW!