Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta, Ego was introduced in 1966’s “Thor” #132, in which the god of thunder battled the mysterious alien Rigelians, who had captured Earth in a “planet lock.” Just as Thor was close to finding a way to break Earth free, he was offered a deal by the Rigelians, who warned him of a greater, not just to the planet but to the entire universe: the so-called “Black Galaxy,” which destroyed everything that entered it.
Fearing this Black Galaxy would soon expand beyond itself, destroying everything in its path, the aliens said they would release Earth if Thor would take care of this looming threat. Thor agreed, and headed into the Black Galaxy along with a Rigelian Recorder robot (to document what happened in case Thor never came back). It’s very telling that this story arc closely followed the introduction of the planet-devouring Galactus earlier in 1966. Kirby and Lee were clearly at a point in their career where the artist’s interest in the universe was informing a great deal of their work. So at the end of “Thor” #132, the thunder god and the Recorder entered the Black Galaxy and discovered a talking planet named Ego.
The next issue, Ego introduced himself and explained how powerful he was, noting that Thor was essentially beneath his notice. He then explained he would assume a humanoid form and defeat the hero (perhaps this could be a basis for Kurt Russell’s character in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”). If he succeeded, he would know he could easily conquer the universe. Thor managed to anger Ego enough that he dropped the humanoid form and instead began to attack with his entire living planet body, sending humanoid “anti-bodies” to kill the god of thunder. Thor managed to fight them all off and then headed to the arteries of Ego, where he called down enough lightning and thunder to defeat the entire planet. That led Ego to vow never to leave the Black Galaxy and give up his dreams of conquest.
We next saw Ego two years later when Kirby, Lee and Colletta created a two-part story in which he was discovered by Galactus. If Galactus liked to consume normal planets, you can only imagine how much he would want to devour a living one. In this storyline, Thor teamed up with the Riegelians as well as the Wanderers, who had been homeless since their planet was destroyed by Galactus long ago. After a devastating battle between Ego and Galactus, Thor stepped in with the help of alien technology to harness his Asgardian power to drive Galactus away. In gratitude, Ego agreed to allow the Wanderers live on his surface.
It’s a Crazy World
Ego briefly showed up in a classic Thor storyline in “Thor” #202-203 (by Gerry Conway, John Buscema and Colletta), where a Rigelian scientist took a sample from the planet that quickly evolved into Ego-Prime, a powerful entity that nearly destroyed Earth before it burned itself up by exhausting all of its energy.
However, a number of issues later, we learned that the removal of the sample destabilized Ego, driving the planet insane (it quickly killed all of the Wanderers on its surface). Thus, in Issues 226-228 (by Conway, Buscema, Rich Buckler, Arvell Jones, Keith Pollard, Mike Esposito and Joe Sinnott), Thor teamed with Galactus, his then-herald Fire-Lord and Hercules to stop Ego from destroying the rest of the universe. In Issue 228, Thor made his way into Ego’s brain, where he learned the being’s origin: He was a scientist who merged with a planet when a sun went nova. Galactus, himself once humanoid, sympathized with Ego, and came up with a rocket-propulsion system that, rather than kill the Living Planet, would drive him far away from any so he wouldn’t pose a threat to anyone.
That’s One Dangerous Planet
That wouldn’t last long, however, as the Supreme Intelligence soon drove Ego mad again in “Maximum Security: Dangerous Planet” #1 (by Kurt Busiek, Jerry Ordway, Will Blyberg and Paul Ryan). A council of alien races determined that Earth was far too dangerous, and decided to transform it into a prison. The crazed Ego, who had been shrunken as punishment, was jailed there, which turned out to be the Supreme Intelligence’s plan: Ego would grow to normal size and consume Earth, then serve as a tool for the Supreme Intelligence to conquer the rest of the universe.
Luckily, Quasar was able to foil the plot by absorbing Ego into his quantum force in “Maximum Security” #3. However, when Quasar was killed during Annihilation, Ego was freed. In “Nova” #20 (by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Wellington Alves and Scott Hanna), Ego hooked up with the Nova Corps and eventually merged with the sentient supercomputer the Worldmind. Of course, this being Ego, he went crazy and took over the Nova Corps, leading Nova (Richard Rider) to have to essentially lobotomize him. When Ego recovered, Nova drove him away again.
The last notable Ego story occurred in Robert Rodi and Mike Choi’s “Astonishing Thor” miniseries, where we learned that the powerful cosmic being known as the Stranger was actually responsible for Ego’s creation. However, he also created a second version of Ego, a “brother” known as Alter-Ego that had been held in the collection of the Cosmic Elder known as the Collector. Thor freed him, but the Stranger had made it so that Alter-Ego hated his “brother.” They had an epic battle, but in the end, they realized they belonged together, and Alter-Ego remained as a moon orbiting his brother.
It’s doubtful many of these stories will inform the character’s depiction in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2.” However, if there’s one thing consistent within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s how much the films adapt from the comics and somehow make it work.