“Consequences are for lesser beings, I am Galactus. That is sanction enough.”
The concept of religion in general is interesting--we humans believe that there is an invisible omnipotent being (that we can't agree on the name for) that is watching our every move and judging all of our actions. This aforementioned supernatural deity is responsible for our very creation and requires our unquestioning devotion and worship. Luckily for us, this "God" doesn't make personal trips to come see us and let us bathe in his holy visage. The people in Stan Lee's Silver Surfer tale Parable are not so lucky, as they draw the attention of the God King himself Galactus.
A parable, by definition, is a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. This has a contradictory meaning in this particular story as the theme of the narrative is decidedly against religion. Galactus has come down from the sky and returned to Earth demanding the unconditional worship of all who live there. Pretty much as soon as he lands, a high priest named Colton declares him a god and tells his congregation to devote their lives to him. Anyone who questions his new "religion" is declared a heretic and is captured and/or killed. Interestingly, Galactus does not directly attack anyone, instead he lets his zealot worshippers handle his dirty work for him. See any parallels here? Stan Lee is not known for being a subtle writer and he hammers his point down hard in Parable.
Silver Surfer has been living amongst humanity in the guise of a dirty homeless man (which has shades of Jesus having been born as a fragile human) and as soon as Galactus comes to Earth he springs into action. Colton's sister Elyna also sides with Silver Surfer as she has not fallen under the spell of Galactus' influence. Elyna represents the doubts we all harbor internally and in a fight with her brother she says: "Heresy?! Is it heresy to think...to question?" That is the downfall of all religion. One is robbed of the ability to question the validity of the commandments set before them. Colton is merely a lesser version of Galactus--a man who is willing to deceive weaker people for his own gain. Even he does not believe his own religious rants.
The art was provided by none other than Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, better known as Moebius. He is one of the most prolific French comic book artists of all time and his surreal stylized art is an absolute joy to look at. His style lends a more mystical nature to this comic and makes it look unlike anything else Marvel was producing at the time. The nature of the story makes it seem like it could be a lost piece from Métal Hurlant magazine (known here in the states as Heavy Metal). I love the colors that Moebius used as well--it's a great mix of soft pastels and bright primary splashes. It give it this kind of Mondrian aesthetic that has a unique look. One negative is that Moebius did his own lettering and he chose a style that is sometimes hard to read. There are several areas where I had to reread word balloons to try to decipher what was written. I would rather trade cool factor for legibility any day.
While some people might be turned off by the anti-religious tone of the story, I feel like it's trying to convey something deeper than that. Although Silver Surfer is one of the most powerful characters in the superhero universe, even he cannot really defeat Galactus, and by extension what Galactus stands for. Only humanity can decide for themselves that they don't need the help of a higher power and discover that the strength resides within themselves. Parable is more a story about humanism and self-sufficiency than a tirade against organized religion. In the end that is the best we can hope for.