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Comic Book / The Coming of Galactus

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The Fantastic Four meet God

The Coming of Galactus is a Fantastic Four story arc by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, that introduced Galactus and the Silver Surfer. It ran through issues #48-50 of Fantastic Four (1961).

After meeting the Inhumans in Among Us Hide... The Inhumans!, the Fantastic Four are returning home, and find all kinds of weird events going on. Fire in the sky, rocks in the sky; all caused by the Watcher, in his attempt to hide planet Earth from the Silver Surfer. The Surfer does not fall for it, discovers the planet, and summons Galactus. Galactus plans to consume the energies of the planet to feed himself. Fighting him is useless, so the Watcher sends the Human Torch to Galactus' home to retrieve a weapon that may destroy the universe. Mister Fantastic threatens Galactus with it, and rather than risk destruction, he agrees to leave. But before doing so, he banishes the Silver Surfer on Earth, for opposing his will.

The events of this storyline are retold in the last two issues of The Marvel Saga: The Official History of the Marvel Universe, along with the origins of Galactus and the Silver Surfer. The storyline was adapted in 2007 by Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

The Coming of Galactus provides examples of:

  • Bathos: Stan Lee commented that he was rather proud of the scene where, during a brief lull in the course of the entire Earth being threatened with annihilation by a vastly powerful space demigod, Reed and Johnny take a moment to shave, because they've been dealing with the threat for days and haven't had a chance until now.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Reed got one in mere hours!
  • Big "WHY?!": "The converter does not roar! It is not operating! Never in a thousand milleniums... never had it failed before! Why? Why? Why?"
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Galactus has a big ol' "G" on his chest.
  • Cassandra Truth: The Thing sees two suns in the sky, and he's told to stop with the pranks.
  • Contrived Coincidence
    • Of all the places in the world where the Silver Surfer may have landed and summoned Galactus, it had to be on top of the Baxter Building.
    • And, when the Thing gets rid of the Silver Surfer with a megaton punch, he had to fall into the studio of Alicia Masters.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: It was basically the first time this trope came into play in superhero comics. Nowadays, Galactus is a regular -if upper tier- character, we have seen him defeated or humbled several times, we have seen characters even more powerful than him on numerous occasions, we have seen superheroes fighting hopelessly against such ultimate forces basically once a year or more, we are used to them coming out on top of all that as if it was nothing... but by then, when Lee and Kirby wrote that story, none of that applied. The Fantastic Four were facing a foe of such power that was completely beyond anything else ever seen before in either Marvel or DC.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The Watcher laid out a plan to ensure Earth's survival, but he never even considered that the Silver Surfer might rebel against his master.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In his first panel ever, Galactus is... red and green? By the next issue, he has been fixed to the trademarked violet.
  • Eye Take: The end of issue 49.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Uatu sees the impending arrival of Galactus as a situation worth crossing this threshold, and sees only one method of solving the problem: Threatening Galactus with the Ultimate Nullifier, a weapon so powerful that Galactus himself is utterly terrified by it. Galactus himself describes giving it to humans as giving ants that live on a powder keg a match to play with.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: Silver Surfer, the trope codifier in comic books, plays this role for the first time.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Galactus is mentioned and discussed several times in issue 48, but we only see him at the end of the issue.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Silver Surfer turns against Galactus, and tries to force him to leave the planet.
  • Improvised Weapon: The Thing destroys the converter, and uses it as a ram to attack Galactus.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Earth doesn't have any special significance for Galactus. It's just another planet to consume.
  • Killer Robot: Galactus has one, called "The Punisher".
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The people are already in terror with the sky being on fire. So, as it was to be expected, Johnny ignores Reed, flames on, and makes things even worse.
  • MacGuffin: The Ultimate Nullifier, the one thing that can scare Galactus.
  • No-Sell:
    • All attacks on Galactus, all of them, have this result.
    • Before the action starts, a street thug tries to take the Thing down. He simply stands there, takes all the attacks, and defeats him with a finger.
  • Not Me This Time: The Human Torch has nothing to do with the fire in the sky, and yet the panicked mob blames him for it.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Alicia gives one to the Silver Surfer, who understands that Galactus is not the only being whose life matters in the universe. He then became Intrigued by Humanity.
  • Puny Earthlings: Galactus doesn't even bother to take those puny humans into account. They are mere ants for someone like him. Only the Watcher is an equal.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The Watchers are not allowed to interfere in the affairs of other civilizations, but the threat of Galactus makes Uatu break the sacred oath. What If? (1989) #41 took this to another level by showing Uatu actually fighting Galactus for the fate of the planet.
  • Some Nutty Publicity Stunt: When the fire in the sky simply vanishes, the Thing thinks that it must have been an advertising for a Joseph Levine movie.
  • That's No Moon: That second sun is not a sun. It quickly turned into a complete sky in flames.
  • What If?:
    • Issue 41 of the 1989 comic book series depicts an alternate scenario that showed what would've possibly happened if The Avengers had to face the threat of Galactus instead of the Fantastic Four. The Avengers were powerless to stop Galactus and Uatu was forced to directly battle Galactus himself. But Galactus defeated Uatu and consumed his energies, temporarily satiating his eternal hunger and sparing Earth from destruction. Uatu's sacrifice inspired the Silver Surfer to remain on Earth and Galactus released him from his vow.
    • Reckoning War: The Trial of the Watcher depicts another scenario where the Watcher never intervened.
  • Who Dares?: "Watcher, since you seem familiar with those puny creatures, I suggest you advise them to hold their tongues before I erase them with one stroke!"
  • The Worf Effect
    • At this point of the Marvel Universe, the Skrull empire was the most dangerous menace from outer space (most other threats that you may name had not been introduced yet). So, if they quickly hide their planet from the Silver Surfer (and, by extension, the yet-to-be-introduced Galactus), then we are clearly talking about a menace even higher than them.
    • Also the Watcher in the cover of FF 48, with a Oh, Crap! face, also means that "Galactus" must be great problems indeed.

"TL;DR: Being a herald to Galactus is like being a millennial. At best, you get to work for an all-consuming giant entity. At worst, you end up stranded with a lot of unemployable skills."