Joseph Campbell describes the Magic Flight thus:
If the hero in his triumph wins the blessing of the goddess or the god and is then explicitly commissioned to return to the world with some elixir for the restoration of society, the final stage of his adventure is supported by all the powers of his supernatural patron. On the other hand, if the trophy has been attained against the opposition of its guardian, or if the hero’s wish to return to the world has been resented by the gods or demons, then the last stage of the mythological round becomes a lively, often comical, pursuit. This flight may be complicated by marvels of magical obstruction and evasion.
(American Anthropologist, 92:4/December 1990, p. 1104, via Wikipedia. Emphasis mine)
How witty the phrase “comical” is applied here, and how ironic, since there is little humor to the Surfer’s story. Moreover, those of you dear readers that follow comic books may say that “lively” and “complicated” puts the circumstances lightly. Rarely, if ever, do superhero comic books follow simple plots.
The Surfer made numerous attempts to escape Earth, including traveling back in time, but the most significant one involved an entanglement with the Hell-Lord Mephisto.
To sum up, Mephisto played a game of cat-and-mouse of sorts with Surfer. He allowed him to cross the barrier Galactus had imposed, only for the Surfer to find Mephisto had kidnapped Shalla-Bal, the love of his life. As the Surfer returned to Earth to find her, he was trapped once more.
With the assistance of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four), Surfer escaped Earth once more, and looked to Zenn-La to find Shalla-Bal. But he found to his chagrin that not only had Galactus destroyed his homeworld and consumed its energies as further punishment for his betrayal, that the surviving residents blamed the Surfer. Worse yet, Mephisto had taken Shalla-Bal prisoner once again, and was using her as a bargaining chip to destroy the SHIELD agency. After the ensuing battle, Mephisto was finally defeated and again sent Shalla-Bal to Zenn-La, but not before the Surfer endowed her with a portion of the Power Cosmic, which she used to rebuild the planet, and then assume ruling duties as Empress.
The Silver Surfer escaped one last time from Earth, but conflict with Galactus (who took on new heralds) was finally put to rest when he managed to save his latest herald Nova (Frankie Raye) from the Skrulls. Galactus then declared his long exile ended.
NEXT POST IN THE SERIES: Surfer descends into The Abyss: Enter Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet