Galactus is one Fantastic Four villain who seemingly has it all. Granted, he needs to eat planets in order to survive, but he possesses one of the greatest reserves of the Power Cosmic in the Marvel Universe – allowing him to create massively powerful beings like the Silver Surfer by just imbuing them with a fraction of his own god-like might. Then there’s the fact that, as cruel as Galactus’ actions might seem, he has been proclaimed an essential part of the universe, ensuring his continual survival no matter how many planets he eats.
But there’s another side to Galactus that few people ever see – the tragic cost of being one of the most powerful beings in the universe. While most are only aware of him as a massively powerful demigod, Galactus was once a very different being – before fate decided he should live out the most tragic story, again and again, over and over.
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How Galan Became Galactus
As Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revealed in Super-Villain Classics, before he became the Devourer of Worlds, Galactus was once an ordinary man named Galan who resided on the planet Taa in the universe that existed prior to the present-day Marvel Universe. A good-hearted scientist who learned about his universe’s impending end, Galan managed to convince the people of his home planet that the universe was ending when all the surrounding worlds in the area began dying.
In many ways, Galan resembled DC Comics’ own Jor-El of Krypton as he also tried to save his people from extinction. Where Jor-El knew of some habitable planets where he could send his son, however, Galan could think of no way to save his world from the coming collapse, especially when radiation began poisoning and killing all the people of Taa. Eventually deciding that they should meet their end in flight, he convinced the survivors to go where men have never gone – the terminal point of the universe – and let that be the place of their final end.
In an even weirder twist, Galan and his crew were bombarded with cosmic rays as their ship rushed to its end, much like his future enemies the Fantastic Four. Although the rays killed his crew, Galan did not die, but instead, became bonded with the Sentience of the Universe which was also dying as the matter of its universe collapsed in on itself. Promising Galan that they would both survive and be reborn as a new being, the Sentience of the Universe helped Galan’s ship survive the collapse of the old universe and the beginning of the new one.
Surviving the Big Bang
But while Galan may have survived the death of his universe, his evolution into his new form was not very pleasant and lasted for eons. Galan’s craft drifted through the lifeless new universe as it slowly evolved. Galan’s mortal form was also evolving, gestating over billions of years into a new, more powerful form. Even worse, Galan is conscious for a great portion of this time as he learns to adapt to his new form and build a suit of armor to contain his rapidly growing power.
Galan does receive one visitor – a Watcher who recognizes Galan’s destructive nature – but does not get much of a chance to socialize as the Watcher simply lets him continue evolving into his new form of Galactus. After billions of years, Galan – now Galactus – emerges and eats the planet of Archeopia. Still aware of the man he once was, he creates a new homeworld called “Taa II” showing he still feels a sense of loss for the universe he had to leave.
Galactus would continue to consume world after world just to survive, quickly being regarded as a menace and a threat to life by the new universe. He also developed a more stoic, even arrogant personality – very possibly to deal with the guilt of having to ravage so many worlds that were very much like his own planet of Taa. Although he proclaimed that he needed no one, he frequently empowered several “lesser beings” with his Power Cosmic to serve as his heralds. Although these Heralds of Galactus were used to seek out new worlds for him to consume, Galactus also kept them around to talk to, indicating even he got lonely simply surviving in the vastness of space.
Certain storylines would even see Galactus evolve (or devolve) into new forms. In one Fantastic Four story, Reed Richards managed to revert Galactus back into his original humanoid form of Galan. While Galan appears to be arrogant and unsociable, he later reveals he has developed a great respect for humanity – admiring them for their refusal to succumb to total despair even when faced with overwhelming odds. In the end, he chooses to exile himself to an isolated part of space in hopes that this may save more worlds should he become Galactus again. Even as Galactus, the demigod has shown a certain respect, even fondness for humans, noting that he may have found friends on Earth.
Unfortunately, even these friendships did not last long for someone who’s immortality extends to a point even beyond the end of time. In Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four #48, Galactus survives to the end of time in the Marvel Universe and realizes that he must survive the destruction of this universe and wait billions of years for life to form again in the new universe. Knowing how difficult going through this ordeal will be for him, Galactus finds himself using his technology to look into the past and see the Fantastic Four simply being a family.
Depressed, Galactus finally brings the Fantastic Four forward in time for his version of a going-away party. Still playing the part of the standoffish stoic alien god, Galactus claims he brought the team to his time in order to combat some menaces that have been threatening him, including Annihlus, the son of Thanos, and an alien being who stole the Silver Surfer’s powers. Supplying the Fantastic Four with a device that will amplify their power to help them combat his enemies, Galactus even agrees to only eat uninhabited worlds in the new universe and apologizes that his device does not play music for the team’s enjoyment after the Human Torch makes an offhanded comment.
The four greatly enjoy their power enhancements during the battle (essentially Galactus’ way of providing some “party entertainment”), but eventually, the invaders make their way onto Galactus ship, only for the Devourer of Worlds to simply banish them with a wave of his hand. Dumbfounded, the Human Torch asks why Galactus bothered to even ask for their help when he could deal with his problems himself, but Reed Richards suddenly grasps what’s really going on. Expanding his arm to the point where he can shake hands with his old enemy, Reed assures Galactus, “Yes, I’ll miss you too.”
Back in their own time, the rest of the Fantastic Four suddenly realize that Galactus brought them to the end of time simply because… he was lonely. Realizing what a horrible fate it must be to have to wait billions of years simply for life to evolve to the point where you can have someone to talk to, Reed, Sue, Ben, and even Johnny finally find a reason to feel sympathy and compassion for Galactus. The Devourer of Worlds may continue to be a threat to life simply for being what he is, but at his core, Galactus still remains Galan – an ordinary man who just wanted to live his life.
Next: Galactus Can Bring The Dead Back To Life in Marvel Comics
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