Why Galactus Looms Large In The Future Of The Fantastic Four

Galactus Returns to Fantastic Four - Cover
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

The return of the Fantastic Four after several years away from the Marvel universe is cause enough for excitement. The first issue of writer Dan Slott and artist Sara Pichelli’s new series was an absolute home run. It didn’t clarify what new challenges the “first family” might have to confront once they were united in the pages of Fantastic Four #2 besides a Doctor Doom who was just resuming his villainous ways following a brief stint as a replacement Iron Man. While solicits for the first several issue have been generally vague and Doom’s plans look to be long term in nature, it’s not impossible to predict what major catastrophes or villains readers should expect in the future of this series. One classic Fantastic Four foe looms particularly large over the return of the team: Galactus.

While there wasn’t a single mention of the Devourer of Worlds in Fantastic Four #1, Galactus has not been absent from Marvel Comics while his original combatants were disassembled. A lot has been happening away from Earth and that doesn’t even take into consideration the strong historical and thematic ties between Galactus and the Fantastic Four. When you take a look at the big picture surrounding these character, both on and off the page, it seems inevitable that Galactus will be returning to Earth very soon and with a big appetite.

Galactus Returns to Fantastic Four - Lifebringer
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

The Recent Rise And Fall Of Galactus

Galactus has been very, very busy in the wake of Secret Wars and subsequent departure of the Fantastic Four. While Mr. Fantastic and his family may have been gone, the spirit of their team lived on in the pages of The Ultimates, a new formation of powerful and very intelligent superheroes determined to solve the biggest challenges. They lived up to that concept in their very first adventure together when they decided to “fix” Galactus. Using some super science and a lot of well illustrated effects, the team managed to invert the very nature of Galactus and transform him into the “Lifebringer” complete with a new gold and white color scheme. In his new form Galactus could roam the universe seeking to restore life to dead planets instead of consuming them. He even became a part-time member of The Ultimates, helping them to confront some incredibly dire challenges.

That remained the status quo for Galactus across several years as he popped up in various series and became a pleasant, instead of genocidal, sort of surprise. Unfortunately, as any longtime Marvel Comics reader could predict, the era of Galactus the Lifebringer would not last for too long. Recently in the pages of Infinity Countdown Ultron was revealed to have consumed an entire planet and was preparing to send billions of copies of himself in order to infect and spread his intelligence across the entire universe. Both Adam Warlock and the Silver Surfer quickly realized they could not stop the villain alone. In order to save every planet, the Silver Surfer asked that Galactus return to his role as Devourer of Worlds to consume the planet occupied by Ultron. Galactus mourned the decision, but ultimately relented. This return to his role as a cosmic destroyer whose hunger is never truly abated came just in time for the return of the Fantastic Four.

Galactus Returns to Fantastic Four - Pichelli
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

The Return Of The Iconic Fantastic Four

It has been quite a return so far. When Marvel Comics first announced a new Fantastic Four #1, it was one of the biggest pieces of comics news in 2018. While many readers expected the team to come back eventually, the return of the Fantastic Four to Marvel Studios was still only a rumor and some thought they would remain gone in comics as long as they were under the control of 20th Century Fox. That didn’t prove to be the case (or someone in charge was feeling very optimistic), and Marvel Comics decided to reunite the family in a big way. The first issue and early interviews have all focused on the classic team and bringing back the series in the most iconic fashion possible. With all of the attention on restoring the Fantastic Four to their classic position at Marvel Comics, the new series also broke down one big barrier with Sara Pichelli becoming the first woman to be announced as an ongoing artist for the title.

Considering that Slott and Pichelli are focused on the classic incarnations of the Fantastic Four, it’s worth considering what the most iconic stories in their history are when looking toward the future. While Doctor Doom is the team’s obvious arch-nemesis, receiving his own backup feature in Fantastic Four #1, they have collected a notorious rogues gallery across the decades. Doom may be their most evil villain, but Galactus is every bit as iconic. “The Galactus Trilogy” is commonly thought to be the defining epic of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s original run on the series. It expanded both the Fantastic Four and all of Marvel Comics’ shared continuity to an event larger than any experienced under the Marvel banner so far, and still reads exceptionally well today. That’s what makes it difficult to think of an iconic return of the Fantastic Four without also thinking about Galactus.

Galactus Returns to Fantastic Four - Showdown
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)
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An Inevitable Showdown

Galactus’ tragic return to his role as the Devourer of Worlds and the Fantastic Four’s hopeful reunion on Earth cannot be mere coincidence. They have too much history together, sharing many of the greatest superhero comics ever created, to be ignored. When Galactus consumed Ultron and his entire planet, his fate was left as a cliffhanger in the pages of Infinity Countdown. It can only be a matter of time until he returns to “the one who got away” and tries to devour Earth once more now that he is reborn. That also serves to set up a ticking time bomb for the new Fantastic Four to confront. Few characters provide a greater event than Galactus and none make for a more iconic effort of the FF saving the world. As Slott and Pichelli seek to return the Fantastic Four in full form, it can only be a matter of time until they bring Galactus back into the picture.