|"The Galactus Trilogy"|
Cover to Fantastic Four #48.
Art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott.
|Publication date||March – May 1966|
|Title(s)||Fantastic Four #48-#50|
|Main character(s)||Fantastic Four
|Essential Fantastic Four, Vol. 3||ISBN 0785126252|
|Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four Vol. 5||ISBN 0785111840|
In 1966, nearly five years after having launched Marvel Comics' flagship superhero title, Fantastic Four, creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby collaborated on an antagonist designed to break from the archetypal mold of supervillains of the time, and be instead a being of god-like stature and power. As Lee later explained, "I created Galactus after we had done so many villains and wanted something different. I wondered, 'How could we get something bigger than a villain? Let's do a guy who's like a demigod — I like the name Galactus'. He comes from outer space and eats planets, or some stupid thing". This culminated in the introduction of Galactus in Fantastic Four #48-50 (March-May 1966), now known as "The Galactus Trilogy".
Kirby described his Biblical inspirations for Galactus and an accompanying character, an angelic herald Lee dubbed the Silver Surfer:
|“||My inspirations were the fact that I had to make sales. And I had to come up with characters that were no longer stereotypes. In other words I couldn't depend on gangsters anymore, I had to get something new. And ... for some reason, I went to the Bible. And I came up with Galactus. And there I was in front of this tremendous figure, who I knew very well, because I always felt him, and I certainly couldn't treat him the same way that I would any ordinary mortal ... and of course the Silver Surfer is the fallen angel. ...[T]hey were figures that have never been used before in comics. They were above mythic figures, and of course, they were the first gods.||”|
Kirby further explained that "Galactus in actuality is a sort of god. He is beyond reproach, beyond anyone's opinion. In a way he is kind of a Zeus, who fathered Hercules. He is his own legend, and of course, he and the Silver Surfer are sort of modern legends, and they are designed that way."
The trilogy culminated in Fantastic Four #50 ( May 1966), which featured the Silver Surfer interceding for humankind against Galactus. After the trilogy, Kirby had not intended for Galactus to reappear, in order to preserve the character's tremendous presence. Popularity among fans, however, prompted Lee to petition Kirby for Galactus' reappearance, and the character eventually became a mainstay in the Marvel Universe.
After wrapping up the Inhumans story of the previous issue, the story moves to the Silver Surfer as he soars through the Andromeda Galaxy, earning the attention of the Skrulls. They know that wherever the Silver Surfer appears, his master, Galactus, cannot be far behind. Terrified, the Skrulls do everything they can to conceal their world from the Surfer's perceptions.
Back on Earth, the Fantastic Four witness the entire skyline appearing be engulfed in flame. At the Baxter Building Reed sequesters himself inside his laboratory to analyze the situation. The flames in the sky dissipate, giving way to an unending field of space debris.
The powerful being known as the Watcher appears inside Reed's laboratory. He explains that he is responsible for the atmospheric disturbances, for he has been attempting to conceal Earth's existence from the attention of the Silver Surfer. He further explains that the Surfer is the advance scout of Galactus, a powerful cosmic being that consumes the elemental energies of entire worlds, leaving them as little more than dried, lifeless husks.
The Surfer investigates the Watcher's debris field and finds Earth hidden beneath it. He flies to the roof of the Baxter Building and sends out a cosmic signal for Galactus. The Fantastic Four race to the top of the building, and the Thing rams into the Surfer knocking him off the building. In the sky above, Galactus' planet devouring world ship emerges in the skies above Manhattan. The giant Galactus exits the ship and declares his intention to consume the entire world.
The Watcher tries to appeal to Galactus to leave Earth alone. When diplomacy doesn't work the Human Torch and the Thing try to attack Galactus to no effect. The Watcher tells them to return to their base and he will contact them shortly. Galactus continues to assemble his planet devouring device and the Watcher explains that there is a device aboard Galactus' ship that could stop him. The Watcher sends the Human Torch to get it. Meanwhile, the unconscious Silver Surfer wakes up in the apartment of Alicia Masters. She learns of the Surfer's mission and appeals to him to turn against his master and help save the Earth.
When the Fantastic Four begin attacking Galactus' almost completed device, the planet-eater sends his cyborg Punisher to keep them out of his way while he repairs the device. Making use of this distraction and delay, the Watcher uses a device to boost Johnny's powers so that he may travel to Galactus' ship and retrieve the weapon they need to defeat the world-devourer. Alicia convinces the Surfer to help save the Earth.
The Silver Surfer arrives to attack his former master, giving Johnny the time he needs to return from Galactus' ship with the Ultimate Nullifier. When Reed threatens to use it against Galactus, the planet-eater agrees to spare the Earth and leave if Reed gives him back the weapon. True to his word, Galactus leaves but not before making it so the Surfer can never leave the Earth. After the battle, Alicia thanks the Silver Surfer for his help, causing the jealous Thing to think that she's choosing the Surfer over him. He quietly walks away feeling nothing but rejection.
As life resumes to normal, the press dismisses the Galactus fiasco as a hoax.