Galactus – “My journey is ended!This planet shall sustain me until it has been drained of all elemental life!So speaks Galactus!”
If the World was coming to an end, who would you rather be with? Surely it would be your family. Well for the Fantastic Four most days seem like the end of the World and most days are spent with family. So when big planet munching alien Galactus arrived to stop off for a bite of Earth, the FF just went about doing their day job as it was just business as usual.
The Fantastic Four returned to Earth from an adventure with the Inhumans and found the planet was experiencing strange phenomena (more so than usual).The sky was ablaze and big headed know-it-all the Watcher arrived to warn the FF that the Earth would soon be visited by a cosmic entity called Galactus, who intended to devour the planet. With nothing in the fridge to tempt him away from such a situation, the FF searched for a way to combat such an attack, until a mysterious chrome alien flying a surfboard entered the atmosphere and eventually offered a bit of help.
Regarded as one of the greatest Fantastic Four stories ever, the Galactus trilogy earned its place in the pantheon of classic Marvel tales from the Stan Lee era because of the simplicity of its execution.Lee was never afraid to have his other creations such as Spidey or the Avengers hop across books to make guest appearances, yet for that tale he kept the FF as the sole line of defence against an alien attack.By doing that the action focused on what made the Fantastic Four the hit they had become, which was their family dynamic.Remove all the bravado of their space-hopping adventures and their collection of super powers and their stories always boiled down to a family unit who would look out for one another during times of crisis. So when the group returned from space and found the planet was suffering at the hands of Galactus’ imminent arrival, the team's bond grew tighter as they started to look out for each other a little bit more than usual. At one point the Thing even vowed never to think of Johnny as a kid again when he was asked by the Watcher to retrieve the Ultimate Nullifier, a weapon which would be powerful enough to stop Galactus.It was a defining moment for Johnny’s character and showed him shaking off the image of being a tempestuous teen and the stress of the occasion drew the usually warring pair closer together. Unfortuantely at the same time it brought out an unease between Sue and Reed, as Reed’s preoccupation with events left Sue feeling abandoned from their relationship.Stan Lee picked up all those little moments from real life and effortlessly wrapped them around a story which could have been the end for humanity and made the end of the World drama seem like the sub-plot!!
The build up to the introduction of Galactus was handled perfectly with the destroyer of worlds making his first appearance in the final panel of issue forty-eight, which provided him with an issue long build up.The reveal of his character showed artist Jack Kirby’s had a fantastic (no pun intended) eye for composition as Reed, Sue, Ben and even the Watcher paled in comparison to Galactus.Kirby’s work on the issues was outstanding and Joe Sinnott’s inks lit up his pencils and the galaxies they depicted, giving them an electric vibrancy which spoke volumes as to why the Silver Surfer would spend his time travelling the galaxies for Galactus.The story was a break-out role for the Surfer who became a popular Marvel icon outside of the Fantastic Four, but the real star of the story was the Thing who is brought both joy and sadness to the tale. As Galactus was about to fire up his power converter to drain the Earth of life he suddenly found it wasn’t working, because Ben was busy tearing it apart in defiance of Galactus.He said he wasn’t worried what happened to him as long as the machine was destroyed and it was the moment which stalled Galactus long enough for the rest of the events to play out.In that moment the Thing was a champion for standing up for the planet, but he was soon brought down with a bump when he later wrongly believed his girlfriend had fallen for the Silver Surfer.He believed she would only ever see him as a monster when compared to the magnificent power of the Silver Surfer and his insecurities about his appearance bubbled to the surface.As he walked away he failed to hear Alicia tell the Surfer how much she loved her boyfriend Ben and once again the Thing felt he didn’t quite belong amongst the people he so bravely protected. Over three issues Stan Lee and Jack Kirby managed to pit the FF against a deadly foe, but however far reaching and imaginative the story was, they never lost sight of the core values of telling a story which was as much about the group’s relationship to each other as it was about the end of the world. Being with family is always important during difficult times, but keeping each other strong inspite of difficult times is what truly matters most.
EARTH SHATTERING FACTS: *Not surprisingly the Fantastic Four movie sequel, 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), featured the surfboarding alien the Silver Surfer, but it skirted around the appearance of Galactus.The planet devouring behemoth was constantly mentioned throughout the movie, but with the exception of a shadow he wasn’t actually seen in the film! Grrr!
*It was Ben’s girlfriend Alicia Masters who convinced the Silver Surfer that helping Galactus destroy the Earth was wrong.In the film Rise of the Silver Surfer it was Sue who made him see the error of his ways.
*The Silver Surfer had his own short-lived cartoon series during the 90s.
*The issue titles of the three-part story were The coming of Galactus (#48), If this be doomsday (#49) and The startling saga of the Silver Surfer (#50).
*The headline on the cover of the Daily Bugle towards the end of the story read, ‘Publisher calls Galactus Hoax, editorial by J. Jonah Jameson.’