Now that Thanos has been vanquished in the movies, one has to presume Galactus is up next to be the big bad. It’s a logical next step, especially since Disney now own the Fantastic Four’s movie rights, and it could be why a Galactus-focused trade paperback was released this week. This 312-page book collects the first few encounters with the giant purple cosmic entity.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Fantastic Four take on Galactus in one cosmically oversized hardcover! First, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduce the World-Eater and his enigmatic herald, the Silver Surfer, as they come for Earth in one of the greatest comic book sagas ever told! Next, Stan and Jack bring big G back – but what does he want this time? The answer lies in the Microverse! John Buscema’s powerful pencils illustrate the arrival of new herald Gabriel the Air-Walker, signaling doom for the human race! Then, John Byrne takes over as Terrax leads the Devourer back to Earth – and the entire Marvel Universe pitches in to help the FF save the planet from becoming his next meal! With Kirby, Buscema and Byrne art showcased on enormous pages, Galactus has never looked bigger – or better!
Why does this matter?
Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Buscema, and John Byrne are all contributors to this work, all legends in the comic industry. Need I say more?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
What’s not to like about a giant purple entity that preaches like he’s a god? The ego on this guy is incalculable, which is a fun aspect when he’s facing off with the greatest superhero family in existence. Lee and Kirby produced some of the most iconic pages in the comic book industry and the introduction of this character is one of the best ever. Released in 1966, the story still stands up. It’s certainly loud and proud, which is part of the fun. Reading this story again reaps benefits due to things you may have forgotten, like how Galactus has a giant dog-best called Punisher which gives the FF a run for their money. The depiction of the Watcher is fun since he’s like a giant bald man rather than the more alien depiction in later comics. Then there’s the importance of Alicia Masters (who recently married the Thing) in turning the tide against Galactus by befriending Silver Surfer. To see Thing’s jealousy is a fun wrinkle I completely forgot about.
The second portion focuses on Fantastic Four #120 – #123 by Stan Lee and John Buscema in their 1977 sequel. It breaks a bit of a rule by allowing Galactus to go back on his word to never mess with Earth again, but the man wants his Silver Surfer back. This story meanders a bit, but the depiction of Silver Surfer is excellent.
The last portion of the book reprints Fantastic Four #242 to #244 written and drawn by John Byrne from 1982. Getting a third encounter with Galactus gives this read a nice trilogy feel and progresses Galactus’ place in the universe. Byrne did a lot to develop the character’s relationship with the Fantastic Four as well as the complicated nature he has with his Heralds. It opens up the universe a bit too by integrating Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man into the story. He did well to remind us this is a universe of heroes and not just a solo encounter with a super team and Galactus.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
There’s definitely a certain level of filler to keep the action moving over multiple issue stories. Gabriel, a harbinger of bad news for Earth, is a total waste of time. He’s pompous and quite over the top, but ultimately a strange time-suck before Galactus shows up. In that same issue, the Fantastic Four have to fight armed men who break into their headquarters. Aside from annoying their landlord the purpose of this is lost on me. Chalk it up to a different time for comics.
Is it good?
This is a good source to mine three of the most important Galactus stories ever written. It also comes at an opportune time since we’re bound to get some version of Galactus popping up in a Marvel movie soon.
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