Galactus is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appears in Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966), the first part of a three-issue story later known as "The Galactus Trilogy", and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
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 of course I...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. And when Galactus relegated him to Earth he stayed on Earth...they 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.
Lee, Kirby, and inker George Klein then featured Galactus in a storyline in Thor #160-162 (Jan.- March 1969) which resolved the plot-line from issue #134 and marked the first time that Lee and Kirby's classic mythological figure and space gods were brought together. Issue #162 began the transition to Galactus' origin story, but the character makes an unexplained departure from the storyline. The absence of the character may be explained by miscommunication between Kirby and Lee; Kirby may have wanted to directly write Galactus' origin, while Lee may have had his own interpretation of the character's beginnings. Galactus' origin finally appeared in Thor #168-169 (Sept.-Oct. 1969). In 1983, writer Mark Gruenwald, pencillers John Byrne and Ron Wilson, and inkers Jack Abel and Vince Colletta collaborated to produce a more in-depth, 23-page origin story titled "Galactus", which appeared in Super-Villain Classics #1 (May). The story featured additions, edits, and deletions, and was later reprinted as Origin of Galactus #1 (Feb. 1996). This story redefined Galactus' origin as being the last survivor of the previous cosmos and communing with the sentience of the universe, as opposed to that of a dying star in the present universe.
Galactus has appeared on a semi-regular basis throughout the decades. Two appearances showcasing new heralds followed in Fantastic Four #120-123 (March - June 1972) and Thor #225 - 228 (July-Oct. 1974). Galactus threatened Counter-Earth in Fantastic Four #172-175 (July-Oct. 1976) and later returned to defeat the Sphinx in Fantastic Four #206-213 (May-Dec. 1979). The character returned in Fantastic Four #242-244 (May-July 1982) and was seen in space in Fantastic Four #257 (Aug. 1983). Galactus then makes an important cameo appearance in Fantastic Four #262 (Jan. 1984), as the entity Eternity asserts that Galactus is an integral part of the universe.
Galactus also appeared in the limited series Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars (May 1984 - April 1985), and often in Silver Surfer vol. 3 (1987-1998). Galactus also featured prominently in the Infinity series of the 1990s, specifically Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 (July-Dec. 1991) and Infinity War #1-6 (June-Nov. 1992).
Galactus starred in the six-issue miniseries Galactus the Devourer (Sept. 1999 - March 2000), written by Louise Simonson and illustrated by John Buscema, which climaxed with the character's death. Simonson had originally conceived of the story arc to take place in third volume of the Silver Surfer, but the title was canceled due to dwindling sales. Simonson instead proposed a separate limited series, and at the time was initially doubtful that Marvel would approve what she believed to be a "radical" idea concerning "why the very existence of the Universe depends on the health and well-being of Galactus.
Simonson's concept was expanded on by a storyline that commenced in Fantastic Four Annual 2001 with the introduction of the character Abraxas and concluded in Fantastic Four #49 (vol. 3, 2002) with Galactus' revival. Galactus then featured in Marvel: The End #1-6 (May-July 2003), the limited series Thanos #1-12 (Dec. 2003 - May 2004), and in Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill #1-6 (March-Aug. 2005). Galactus was a central character in the Annihilation crossover, first appearing as a co-star in the four-issue miniseries Annihilation: Silver Surfer (June-July 2006) followed by a pivotal role in the six-issue Annihilation limited series (Oct. 2006 - Mar. 2007). Galactus then appears in the two-issue epilogue Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus (April-May 2007).
Originally named Galan of the planet Taa, Galactus is the sole survivor of the Big Crunch of the universe that existed prior to occurrence of the Big Bang, which led to the present-day Marvel Universe.
Galan is initially a space explorer investigating the impending end of his universe. Eventually, Taa is engulfed by a radiation plague that kills almost all its inhabitants. At the last second, Galan escapes the doomed planet in a starship with a few other survivors. Rather than perish from the lethal radiation that has extinguished all life across the universe, Galan proposes to his crew mates that they pilot their craft directly into the center of the Big Crunch. As he approaches the Cosmic egg — the focal point of the Big Crunch and the source of the exterminating radiation — his ship and crew are promptly destroyed. At the moment Galan's universe meets its end, the incarnation of that reality's Phoenix Force amasses the positive emotions of all living beings in the cosmos to preserve them from eternal damnation, enabling the "Sentience of the Universe" — that universe's incarnation of Eternity — to meet with Galan. Within the Cosmic egg, the Sentience of the Universe reveals itself to Galan and informs him that though they both will die in the impending cataclysm, they will survive through a joint heir born into the next universe. The Sentience of the Universe then merges itself with the mortal Galan, establishing Galan as the sole survivor of the ensuing Big Crunch. This union ultimately leads to his rebirth in the present universe as Galactus. After the Big Bang and the birth of the present reality, Galactus gestates in a cocoon of cosmic energy in order to complete his metamorphosis, and after an undetermined period of time emerges as an entity of vast cosmic power who is essential and intrinsic to the newly formed universe. Upon emerging from his incubation, Galactus destroys the planet Archeopia — the first world to fall prey to his hunger — and uses its remains to construct Taa II, in homage to his dead homeworld Taa and Archeopia. Due to the size of Taa II, several planets and a star are caught in its gravitational pull. Reed Richards has speculated that Taa II is the greatest single source of energy in the entire universe.
While not an abstract entity in the traditional, non-corporeal sense, Galactus has been referred to as the "third force of the universe", and the balance between the entities Eternity and Death. He has called Eternity "father", while Death has called Galactus "my husband and father, my brother and son." Galactus has stated that he exists to rectify the imbalances of the two entities.
In the prime Marvel Universe, the cosmic overseer the Living Tribunal likens Galactus to one of the three essential forces which is represented in its trinity of faces, Equity (Eternity and Death are in turn represented by its other two faces, being Necessity and Vengeance).
Due to his vast power and intrinsic, natural role in the universal order, Galactus considers himself a higher being than all non-abstracts, coming to embody a force of cosmic nature necessary for universal existence. Galactus maintains his existence by devouring planets that have the potential for supporting life. In so doing, he has consumed countless worlds, resulting in the elimination of entire extra-terrestrial civilizations. He created a cosmic being in his own image, Tyrant, whom he later renounced and defeated after Tyrant developed a lust for power and tyranny. Frequently, Galactus utilizes a herald to scour the universe in search of sustenance. Upon pinpointing the requisite planetary body, the herald will signal Galactus, resulting in the Devourer's arrival on the world's surface and the deployment of the Elemental Converter — a colossal machine capable of draining all life energy from the planet within minutes. While the Converter makes consumption of the planet's energy more efficient, Galactus is capable of feeding without its aid.
Galactus has appointed a number of beings to act as his Herald, with each bestowed with a fraction of the Power Cosmic. Galactus however spares the planet Zenn-La when Norrin Radd offers his services as a herald in exchange. Galactus transforms Norrin Radd into his herald, the Silver Surfer.
Galactus has threatened to consume the Earth on several occasions. During his first encounter with humans, the cosmic entity the Watcher and Galactus' rebellious herald, the Silver Surfer, aid the Fantastic Four. Galactus is defeated when Mister Fantastic threatens him with the Ultimate Nullifier, which was retrieved by the Human Torch from Galactus' home, Taa II. Galactus exiles the Silver Surfer to Earth, then leaves and vows to never attack the Earth again. He eventually returns to Earth, however, seeking the Silver Surfer. Later, Mr. Fantastic petitions Galactus to stop the threat of the cosmic entity the Sphinx on Earth, releasing Galactus from his vow.
In one encounter, Galactus returns to Earth in pursuit of his rebellious herald, Terrax. Galactus expends a considerable amount of energy in the pursuit, and finally arrives with the intention of consuming Earth to replenish himself. A hungry and weakened Galactus resolves the issue with Terrax, but is so diminished in power that he is defeated by the combined efforts of the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and Doctor Strange. However, rather than let Galactus die of hunger, Mister Fantastic uses a device powered by the Thunder God Thor to resuscitate him. Grateful, Galactus proclaims that Earth is safe from his feedings before departing.
Mister Fantastic's actions have consequences, however, as he is later placed on trial by a consortium of alien worlds for saving Galactus, which would indirectly cause the deaths of the worlds Galactus would later consume. The Shi'ar preside over the trial, and intend to execute Mister Fantastic until the cosmic entity Eternity is summoned by the combined efforts of Galactus and the Watcher. Eternity then enables the millions of alien onlookers to momentarily become one with the universe, temporarily granting them the clarity that Galactus is an essential part of the natural order of the cosmos.
Some time afterwards Galactus, displaying aching conscience for the countless sentients he has destroyed, attempts to unite and use the Infinity Gems in order to alleviate his need to devour planets. He is, however, being manipulated by a cosmos-devouring inter-dimensional parasite called Hunger. In collaboration with Thanos of Titan, Galactus manages to thwart the entity's endeavor to enter, and consume, their universe. Galactus is then attacked by his first Herald, the Fallen One and simply teleports the Herald away to Thanos, who defeats and enslaves the Herald through the use of trickery.
Later, Reed Richards designs a weapon with the express purpose of stripping Galactus of the Power Cosmic. The creation of the device is made possible with help from Quasar and Johnny Storm, who acts as Galactus' Herald and is cosmically aware at this time. The weapon succeeds in separating Galactus into his two core components — Galan and the Power Cosmic. Galan then exiles himself in another dimension, hoping that this act will prevent the Power Cosmic from finding him. The ruse fails; however, as the alien warrior Beta Ray Bill encounters a fully reformed Galactus shortly afterward.
As a living force of nature, Galactus' true form - close to that of a humanoid star - cannot be perceived by most beings, and so each species perceives Galactus in a form they can comprehend, usually in a form similar to that of their own species. Galactus requires his armor to help regulate his internal energies. As Galactus must continuously feed to sustain himself, his power levels are inconsistent throughout any given period. For this reason, Earth's heroes have been able to achieve various degrees of success in repelling, or defeating, a starving, weakened Galactus.
As the oldest known living entity in the universe, Galactus employs science that the most brilliant minds on Earth cannot begin to grasp. Examples of Galactus's technology include the Ultimate Nullifier and Taa II.
Set 100,000,000 years in the future, Galactus devours a now uninhabited Earth. Accompanied by Nova, Galactus follows the trail of destroyed galaxies to the core of the Milky Way. Byrne wrote on his website that the story's conclusion involved Galactus combating a rogue Watcher until the death of the universe. When only Galactus and his herald, Nova, remain, Galactus cracks open his armor, releasing a new Big Bang. With the end of Galactus and the birth of a new universe, Nova is transformed into the Galactus for the new universe.
Galactus appears in the 2007 film Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the story of which was based upon the character's debut and his Ultimate incarnation. The official novelization of the film names the character as "the Gah Lak Tus".
20th Century Fox's rationale for having the character as a cloud was to keep him discreet. Visual effects studio Weta Digital convinced Fox to add physical hints of the comic book incarnation, such as a shadow and the fiery mass within the cloud resembling Galactus' signature helmet. Director Tim Story claimed he made Galactus a cloud so that the future Silver Surfer spin-off film would have a chance to be unique and introduce the character as he normally appears. J. Michael Straczynski, the spin-off's writer, confirmed Galactus is in his script and that "You don't want to sort of blow out something that big and massive for one quick shot in the first movie.