Fantastic Four #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the Fantastic Four to one of their most powerful and deadly enemies: Galactus. The so-called Devourer of Worlds is a seemingly immortal being who has lived since the beginning of our universe, and has incredible power and technology at his disposal. He's nothing less than a god who craves not worship or power, but food. The problem is that a nice meal for Galactus is an entire planet of sentient beings. Since people don't look kindly on a god eating their home planet, Galactus is a feared enemy and has been considered a danger to the entire universe.
Galactus has been a staple of the comic books, appearing and fighting against heroes such as Hercules, Rom the Spaceknight and Black Panther, among countless others. He's been in quite a few animated series quite a few times, but only one movie in 2007, so there's still a lot to learn about this powerful but still mysterious cosmic entity. We'll be going over how Galactus eats planets, why Galactus eats planets, and some of the ways his body has adapted to consume them. We'll also cover some of the more unusual aspects of Galactus' body. After all, he's not what you think he is, and his body has been used for good and evil.
20 WHY GALACTUS EATS PLANETS
When it comes to Galactus, his most memorable trait is his hunger for other planets, so let's talk about it. His enormous and immortal body has a need that you won't find in anyone else in the known Marvel Universe. Galactus doesn't need to eat food or drink water or any other substance, because he can get what his body needs by draining energy from planets to survive. However, it's not really clear what determines what planets he needs. After all, there are billions of uninhabited and empty planets in the universe, but he went as far as to create heralds who travel billions of lightyears in search of specific planets for him to devour.
It turns out that Galactus needs not just energy but "life energy." That's a big distinction.
The easiest way to get life energy is to consume planets with sentient life already on them, but he also can consume planets with the potential for sentient life in the future. Since potential life planets are harder to come by, Galactus likes to take the easy way out and just find planets with rich and tasty civilizations to drain. That puts him in conflict with the rest of the inhabited universe, directly causing the deaths of billions throughout his lifetime.
19 GALACTUS USED TO BE NORMAL
Galactus didn't start out as a giant planet eater with a weird helmet. While there are beings in the Marvel Universe who have no real origin and have always existed, Galactus isn't one of them. Fortunately, there is an explanation on where a giant planet-eating man in purple space armor came from. That origin was first introduced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in an out-of-continuity story, but the canon explanation was given in 1983's Super-Villain Classics: Galactus the Origin #1 by Stan Lee, Mark Gruenwald, Ron Wilson, Bob Layton and Jack Kirby.
It seems that before the current universe existed, there was another universe that was dying. A scientist named Galan created a ship to try to find a way to save the universe. As the universe began to fall into the Big Crunch, Galen was offered the chance to merge with the Sentience of the Universe. In the process, he became the only survivor of his universe and came over to the new universe that formed from the Big Bang. Cocooned in a Cosmic Egg, Galen spent billions of years growing until the egg hatched and he came out as Galactus. With his rebirth came the hunger for planets that became his trademark.
18 HIS DEATH WOULD END EVERYTHING
Galactus is thought of by many races of the universe as an existential threat, a danger to all life, and one that must be destroyed. At one point, the universe got its wish when Galactus was actually killed but they quickly discovered the universe needed him. In the 1999 miniseries Galactus the Devourer (Louise Simonson, John Buscema), the Silver Surfer turned Galactus' own consuming machines against him, starving the Devourer of Worlds and causing him to die and turn into a star.
However, it turned out Galactus' existence was the only thing keeping Abraxas (the personification of the destruction of universes) under control.
Abraxas was released to wreak havoc on multiple universes and was so destructive that Franklin Richards and Valeria Von Doom had to use their cosmic powers to bring Galactus back to life to stop him. With Galactus' help, Abraxas was stopped and Mr. Fantastic used the Ultimate Nullifier to reset reality and keep the destruction entity from escaping in the first place. Later on, Mr. Fantastic was put on trial and blamed for all the deaths caused by Galactus returning to life, but Eternity himself appeared to insist that Galactus maintained the balance between life and death in the multiverse.
17 THE ULTIMATE NULLIFIER RATTLES HIS BONES
Galactus wields the Power Cosmic, which allows him to have god-like powers. He can transform matter, control minds, create force fields, and uses technology so advanced that we can't even comprehend it. His armor is almost impenetrable, and he's brushed aside the combined forces of entire planets without even a scratch. Is there anything that could kill Galactus? Actually, he is vulnerable to a few things and one of them is the Ultimate Nullifier.
There's only one thing that could inspire fear in the mighty Galactus, and that was revealed in 1966's Fantastic Four #50 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. In the story, Galactus wreaked havoc in his endless quest to consume the Earth. To stop him, Uatu the Watcher told Johnny Storm to go aboard Galactus' world-sized spaceship Taa II and steal an object so dangerous that Galactus kept it to protect himself from it: the Ultimate Nullifier. The Ultimate Nullifier is the most powerful weapon in existence, armed with the ability to completely destroy anything the weapon is used in. It's so powerful that it can even destroy entire timelines. When Mr. Fantastic threatened to use the Ultimate Nullifier to destroy Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds backed down.
16 GALACTUS "ATE" THE INFINITY GEMS
How does Galactus deal with the idea that he's responsible for the deaths of billions of intelligent life forms? To be honest, not too badly. He thinks of himself as above all living things and is less interested in the survival of other sentient life than your average McDonald's customer is concerned about the cow that made his Big Mac. However, he does want to be free of the constant need to devour planets. That has been his weakness many times as he's desperate to stop the endless quest for finding worlds he can eat.
At one point, he came up with a plan to cure himself by consuming the power of the combined Infinity Gems.
In 2004's Thanos #4 by Jim Starlin, Galactus assembled the powerful Infinity Gems, only to discover he had been manipulated by an extra-dimensional force called Hunger. Hunger was the multiverse equivalent of Galactus, consuming entire realities instead of just planets. The entity had given Galactus the idea and the means to combine the gems in a way that would release him. With the Infinity Gems combined with Galactus' machines, a portal was opened that let the parasite into the dimension. It took the power of Thanos to destroy the portal into our world and scatter the Infinity Gems across the universe, leaving Hunger out in the cold.
15 HIS BODY SAVED FUTURE EARTH
There are those who dream of Galactus' death to save the universe from his endless hunger, but the Silver Surfer isn't one of them. Silver Surfer was Galactus' herald for many years, and the two formed a close but uneasy bond. That's why the Silver Surfer finding Galactus' dead body in 2010's Fantastic Four #583 (Jonathan Hickman, Steve Epting) triggered concern instead of joy in the Surfer. In the issue, Silver Surfer stumbled across the corpse under New York City, and brought Galactus to the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building to find out how it happened.
Mr. Fantastic admitted the truth from an earlier adventure where they discovered a future Earth where the population of a dying Earth needed a way to escape to the present. The heroes of that future hatched a plan to trap Galactus and lobotomize him so they could use his body to power a time machine as the Galactus Engine. The plan worked, and the people of Earth were sent to a planet in the present called Nu-World. When he found the truth, Galactus traveled to Nu-World to find it powered by his corpse and in anger, Galactus destroyed Nu-World. Too bad he didn't see the irony in the whole situation.
14 WHY HE WANTS TO EAT EARTH
Since the beginning of his existence, Galactus has craved other planets to devour to feed his endless hunger. However, not just any planet will do. He searches the universe for planets with the right mix of energy for him to feed on; the more, the better. His search has led him to turn other beings into "heralds" who travel the universe ahead of Galactus, hunting for planets he can't find on his own. Yet in all that searching, it seems there's one planet that he wants more than any other, and that's Earth.
Ever since his first appearance in 1966 with Fantastic Four #48 (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby), Galactus has been obsessed with consuming Earth.
He's tried to devour it many times, only stopped by the superheroes and supervillains of Earth and beyond, but he still keeps coming back for more. Apparently, Galactus is constantly trying to consume Earth because it's the most energy-rich planet in the universe. If he ever devoured Earth, it might ease his hunger for a long time. In other words, Earth is a gourmet meal for Galactus and his enormous mouth waters at the sight of it. Fortunately, the Fantastic Four and others have fought to defend it.
13 HE LOOKS DIFFERENT
Galactus is easily one of the most memorable characters in the Marvel Universe. With his huge blue armor, red gloves and boots, and powerful grim face, he's one of Jack Kirby's most iconic creations. Just the outline of Galactus' enormous helmet with its circular top and horned sides is recognizable to most comic book readers but it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, what's usually illustrated in the comics isn't what Galactus looks like at all.
Galactus is an elemental force of nature whose true form can't be seen by most sentient lifeforms. Instead, they see Galactus based on their own physical appearance and religious beliefs. In other words, they see Galactus as their race and their own gods. When Reed Richards was put on trial in 1984's Fantastic Four #262 (John Byrne), all the different alien races saw Galactus differently than Earthers. We saw a wide variety of points of view of the titanic Devourer of Worlds from glowing spheres to armor-clad lizards. At least one of the aliens even saw him as a sort of My Little Pony. It doesn't really matter what his body looks like, but how he uses it that drives the universe in fear of him.
12 HIS BODY HOLDS THE POWER COSMIC
Galactus is an awe-inspiring being, not just because of his huge body and advanced technology, but thanks to his power. He uses cosmic energy contained in his body known as the Power Cosmic to perform incredible feats. That includes creating and destroying life, changing his shape and size, creating force fields that can't be broken, and portals to other parts of the universe and even other dimensions. He also has metaphysical powers, like controlling emotions and memories, and bring the dead back to life. He's even recreated entire worlds along with their inhabitants back to life.
He also destroyed a whole group of solar systems... at the same time.
The most familiar use of the Power Cosmic is to turn ordinary beings into his heralds who serve as his guides, messengers and soldiers. To make a herald, Galactus gives them a portion of his Power Cosmic that replaces their souls. The power makes them almost god-like compared to their former selves, able to project energy and travel beyond light speed around the universe, but their power is still insignificant compared to Galactus. If the heralds disobey or displease him, Galactus can strip away the Power Cosmic, leaving them back to their normal selves.
11 HE IS PSYCHIC
The Power Cosmic and Galactus' enormous brain give him additional and awesome psychic power. He can move almost anything with his mind thanks to telekinesis, but his power of telepathy is even more devastating. After all, how can you stop someone who can hear and control what you think? For instance, in the Silver Surfer's first appearance in 1966's Fantastic Four #49 (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), he was cold and detached as a villain working for his master Galactus. It wasn't until 1968's Silver Surfer #1 (Stan Lee, John Buscema) that it was revealed that Galactus stripped Silver Surfer of his memories of his homeworld Zenn-La and ability to feel emotions.
The Silver Surfer discovered an even bigger change to his mind in 1997's Silver Surfer #130 (Cary Nord, J.M. DeMatteis) when he traveled back in time to 1947. There, he discovered that Zenn-La had been destroyed by an alien consciousness known only as the Other. Galactus actually used his power to erase Silver Surfer and his younger self's memories of the destruction and created an illusion of Zenn-La which existed for decades later. He's also shown he can project images into other people's mind, making them see whatever he wants. It makes him a much harder enemy to fight.
10 HE CHANGES SIZE
When you think of Galactus, one of the defining aspects of the world-eater is his size. He's usually a gigantic figure several stories tall, but that's not a constant. Galactus can grow as large as he wants. For instance, in 1982 Rom #27 (Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema), the Spaceknight led Galactus to the home of his sworn enemies, the Dire Wraiths. When Galactus tried to consume it, Wraithworld poured acid rain onto him, dissolving his armor and machinery. In a fit of rage, Galactus grew to the size of the black sun Wraithworld orbited and tried to consume that as well. All his efforts failed, but it showed how powerful he could become.
On the other size of the coin, Galactus can shrink, as seen in Fantastic Four #243 (John Byrne).
In the previous issue, Galactus was defeated after a brutal battle with the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and Doctor Strange. The battle had been the result of his herald Terrax rebelling against him, causing Galactus to be severely weakened. The chase and removing Terrax's power allowed Doctor Strange and Thor to knock down Galactus and pass out. Those gathered around his fallen body saw he began to noticeably shrink from the loss of energy.
9 HE WAS A BIG BALL
With TV shows like Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z, Japanese manga has been a very successful import in the United States. In 1987, Ben Dunn created Ninja High School, an American comic with a manga style that started out as a miniseries and became a long-running series. Ninja High School was so successful that Marvel brought in Dunn to revamp its own comics.
In 2002, Marvel Mangaverse #1 by Ben Dunn introduced a different version of Galactus. The Mangaverse was a version of the Marvel universe written and drawn in a style inspired by Japanese manga comics. In the Mangaverse, Galactus was a huge red living planet with a giant eyeball and long tentacles created by the Skrulls to travel the universe eating worlds. Before arriving on Earth, the Mangaverse Galactus had consumed the Inhuman world of Attilan, but had come for a full meal of the Fantastic Four's world. With the help of four sentries inspired by the Silver Surfer, Terrax, Nova, and Firelord, the Manga Galactus would eat planets whole instead of just draining their energy. The Mangaverse Fantastic Four had to recruit Marvin Ellwood as Captain Marvel to travel down to the surface of Galactus and destroy it.
8 HE WAS A BUNCH OF ROBOTS
The Ultimate Universe was introduced to bring a new and modern feel to the Marvel universe without decades of backstory. Galactus had his own revamp that turned him from a giant in purple armor to a new and more dangerous form. In 2006's Ultimate Extinction (Warren Ellis, Brandon Peterson), Gah Lak Tus traveled to Earth as a cluster of giant robotic drones that was created by the ancient Kree race and went out of control. Gah Lak Tus hates all organic life and is dedicated to wiping it out.
Instead of just destroying planets, Gah Lak Tus begins by sending out a psychic broadcast to drive all sentient life insane.
It then releases a flesh-eating virus before arriving to drain the planet of energy to keep life from returning again. When Gah Lak Tus came to Earth, Professor X used his psychic powers to make Gah Lak Tus feel the thoughts and emotions of humans while Reed Richards created the Ultimate Nullifier to teleport the energy of a Big Bang into the Gah Lak Tus swarm and destroy almost a quarter of the robots. Gah Lak Tus retreated but merged with the real Galactus later on, turning the robots into heralds to find worlds for the mighty being.
7 HE WAS HIDDEN
One of the most disappointing supervillains in modern cinema came with 2007's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The movie brought the Silver Surfer to the big screen for the first time, and fans were excited to hear Galactus would be in the movie, only to be crushed when the Devourer of Worlds was seen only as a shapeless cloud in the actual film.
It turns out that Galactus was shown only as a cloud because of the ambitions of the studio. In interviews, director Tim Story said they wanted to hide Galactus' true appearance because they didn't want to waste the big reveal as a cameo in the Fantastic Four's movie. After all, with the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer taking up most of the film, Galactus would have ended up just a brief shot. There was even a debate in the studio about whether Galactus should speak at all. It was supposed to be hinted in the movie that Galactus was more than a cloud because (at one point) we could see the outline of his iconic helmet inside the cloud. The plan was to make a Silver Surfer movie where we would see Galactus in all his glory. Sadly, the Silver Surfer spin-off never happened.
6 ABRAXAS TOOK HIS HEAD
In 1999, the miniseries Galactus the Devourer (Louise Simonson, John Buscema) ended what should have been a great moment: the shocking death of Galactus. While many in the universe were celebrating the death of the powerful being, they soon discovered an even greater threat rose up in his absence and it used Galactus' severed head to do it. Fantastic Four Annual #2001 (Jeph Loeb, Kevin Maguire) introduced a strange and powerful enemy into the Marvel Universe, named Abraxas.
Abraxas was created as the balance between the birth and death of the multiverse. Galactus, on the other hand, was created by Eternity to maintain that balance.
In the wake of Galactus' death, Abraxas began rampaging through the multiverse. He killed numerous alternate versions of Galactus, growing more and more powerful, even taking one of the decapitated Galactus' heads to use it at home in the main Marvel Universe. When Abraxas arrived, he triggered a mad race to find the Ultimate Nullifier to stop him, but even that all-powerful weapon wasn't enough. It took a reset of reality to bring back Galactus and end the nightmare. That just showed that even Galactus' head is a threat to all of existence in the right hands.
5 HE NEEDS ARMOR
Why does Galactus wear armor? Some comic book readers have asked that question. To those on Earth, he takes the form of a giant wearing purple armor, but no one is big enough or powerful enough to try to punch him. Shooting at him with anything less than cosmic force barely even gets his attention. What is the armor protecting him from? It turns out that the armor isn't protecting him from anything. It's protecting everyone else from him.
Galactus is more powerful than we even know. The Power Cosmic he controls makes him a living battery of forces that could tear the universe apart and reshape it to his will. His energy is so powerful that even Galactus can't control it, so he needed to create the armor just to harness and regulate it. If he didn't wear the armor, Galactus' cosmic power would wreak havoc and turn him into a sun or something even more powerful. We're not sure what his armor is made out of, but it must be some of the most powerful substances in the universe. Of course, we also have to remember that Galactus' true form isn't something we can see, so it's not really a suit of armor like we think of it.
4 HE USES MACHINES TO SAVE ENERGY
Galactus himself is pretty awesome, but his technology is even more incredible. Constructed from the remains of the first world he devoured, his ship Taa II is the size of an entire solar system and carries him throughout the universe at incredible speeds. It's so huge that other planets and even a star were pulled into its orbit. When Galactus finds a world to consume, he deploys a complex machine that is able to convert the entire planet into energy he needs to survive. Sometimes, the machine just leaves the planet completely barren of life but other times, it destroys the planet altogether.
However, it's important to remember that Galactus doesn't need a ship or his world-eating machinery at all.
He's powerful enough that he could travel the stars with his own mind and can live comfortably in deep space for thousands of years without help. He can also consume planets himself just by touching them. The only reason he uses machines to do this work is that he wants to conserve energy. Even with a herald to help him, his hunger is so great and finding planets that will sustain him is so hard that he saves every drop of energy to make it between feedings.
3 HE ATE CELESTIAL BEINGS
Galactus loves to feast on populated worlds, but he can consume any source of energy he wants. He's even consumed living beings. For instance, a group of seven Elders of the Universe plotted together to kill Galactus because they hoped his death would destroy the universe, leaving them as the only survivors and all-powerful beings in a new universe. When the plan failed, Galactus ate five of them. However, the Elders proved to be immortal and gave the Devourer of Worlds a case of "cosmic indigestion," forcing him to give them up.
In another moment, the cosmic event Annihilation left Galactus in such a weakened state that he decided to consume the energy of the cosmic being Epoch. Galactus sent Silver Surfer and Stardust to take Epoch to him, but the Fantastic Four, and Gravity (the new Protector of the Universe) fought to protect her. Galactus still managed to build the machine to drain Epoch and almost turned it on, but Gravity used his power to recharge Galactus on his own. In gratitude, Galactus spared Epoch, but the whole incident showed that no one is safe from Galactus, and that includes beings that can change time and space on their own.
2 HE WAS EATEN BY ZOMBIES
What would happen if a zombie outbreak struck the Marvel Universe? That was the premise of what came to be known as Marvel Zombies. First seen in 2005's Ultimate Fantastic Four #21, the Marvel Zombies universe was one where, as the name implies, superheroes were infected by the insatiable disease of the undead. The consumed Avengers went on to infect other superheroes and supervillains, spreading the illness further and further until all of Earth was affected. Since the infected still kept their powers and intelligence, the Marvel Zombies were far more powerful than normal zombies and consumed all life on Earth.
When Galactus finally arrived, the amplified Power Cosmic allowed The Avengers to eat Galactus in an ironic twist.
That's when the Silver Surfer arrived to tell them that Galactus was coming to Earth. Colonel America, Iron Man, Giant-Man, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, the Hulk and Wolverine overpowered and consumed the Silver Surfer, giving them a portion of the Power Cosmic. When Galactus finally arrived, the amplified Power Cosmic allowed them to hurt and eat Galactus in an ironic twist. Even Galactus' body couldn't stop their hunger, though. Having eaten the body of Galactus, Giant-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Luke Cage, Spider-Man and Wolverine became a form of Galactus themselves and traveled the universe, eating life on other worlds. In the Marvel Zombies sequels, we learned that Cosmic Zombies were able to consume almost all life in the universe.
1 HE TURNED INTO A BLACK HOLE
What would happen if superheroes weren't around to stop him? What if Galactus kept eating? That's what happened in the miniseries Hercules: Twilight of a God by Bob Layton and Ron Lim. In the first issue, set in a distant alternate future, Galactus tried to eat a planet with unknown materials that caused him to consume so much energy that he died. Yet his death caused him to collapse into a black hole, and the black hole continued to grow until it threatened to draw in the entire Galaxy.
When a white hole bomb was created to stop the Galactus black hole, Hercules sacrificed himself by delivering the payload to its target. Once the bomb succeeded, it turned Galactus into a new being called Cosmos, the Bringer of Worlds. Instead of destroying worlds, Cosmos brought life to barren planets, created new star systems and healed dying stars. In his death, Galactus' body brought new life to the universe. Something similar happened in the mainstream universe when Galactus was forced into his original incubator and turned him into the Lifebringer who travels the universe bringing life to worlds he previously destroyed. That's something we can all get behind, but who knows when things will change and the old Devourer of Worlds will return.