Galactus In Animation - A Retrospective
Part One -
With The Galactus Trilogy often being considered the highlight of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s legendary run on Fantastic Four, the team that reinvented the comic book medium, it comes as no surprise to see that the same is now being used as the basis for the upcoming Fantastic Four movie sequel, The Rise Of The Silver Surfer. The character is only behind Dr. Doom on the list of the quartet’s foes and his appearances are not usually taken lightly.
The devourer of worlds made his animation debut in the Fantastic Four’s first animated series way back in 1967, only a year after he made his debut in the comics themselves. The episode is a faithful adaptation of the famous trilogy besides the omission of Alicia who never appeared in the series, inevitably replaced by Sue. Considering the episodes are only 10 minutes in length, it’s an omission that’s easy to forgive. Galactus, as the episode is cleverly titled, is considered to be the crown jewel in the show, actually showing spots of characterization not usually found. Even in this most simple of cartoons, they understand that Galactus is not necessarily evil – he just needs the planet’s energy to survive.
Visually, the show was made in the 60’s, so it’s pretty cheap and doesn’t hold a candle to the artistic styling of the modern day. They did attempts to try and recreate Kiby’s groundbreaking visuals, but people have been trying it for years and failing to reach his levels of excellence. Do it on the cheap and you’re bound to fail. Galactus himself is somewhat faithful to his comic design – albeit a hell of a lot shorter and mysteriously coloured green and blue instead of the traditional purple and blue.
If you’re a Galactus fanboy who yearns to see every appearance of him, I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much, but there’s nothing that’s going to crush your spirits here either.
Oddly (thankfully?) missing from the 1978 series, Big G would have to wait until 1994 to make his return to TV to the terror of fans everywhere. The first season of Fantastic Four is truly one of the great horrors in history. Even now, after having watched it a handful of times and created a website reviewing every single episode, I fail to see any redeeming factors. Well, some of the cast.
The Silver Surfer And The Coming Of Galactus has two whole episodes to introduce the two title characters and The Watcher, a being of immense power who arrives on Earth to warn Sue and the crew that Galactus intends to feed upon their world.
The Silver Surfer then arrives from the sky, boasting that this new world will allow Galactus to feast like never before. Surfer’s getting his own retrospective soon (probably) so I’ll spare you the story of how my eyes started to bleed as soon as I looked at his design.
Galactus than walks about his giant spaceship bubble thing, without even the slightest bit of oomph to it. Considering the scale that they were dealing with here and the threat Galactus is supposed to impose, his introduction simply falls flat. The man is as tall as a skyscraper, he arrives in a gigantic dome and no one seems to bat an eyelid. I wouldn’t usually mind but for such an important visual, they really dropped the ball here. They also struggled to find a consistent look for the giant, it seems nearly ever other season that his model was changing. It never actually looked good, but it just kept getting worse and worse. The animators/designers had similar problems with Dr. Doom in his irredeemable origin story, The Mask Of Doom.
Galactus spends the rest of the episode preparing his machines to eat the planet as the Four spend the episode on the rooftop, twiddling their thumbs. Firelord and Terrax make quick appearances in a rather pointless fight scene before Johnny goes to space to get the Ultimate Nullifier and Galactus promptly pisses his pants and vows never to attack Earth again. 39 minutes build up and that was it?! Apparently so.
Galactus once again returns in the season finale, The Silver Surfer and The Return Of Galactus in which Dr. Doom steals The Surfer’s power cosmic. He only really appears at the very end as the rest of the episode sees The Fantastic Four failing to defeat Doom Almighty and Reed attempting to cure/help a severely weakened Silver Surfer. They eventually visit Galactus’ ship and The Surfer explains that his powers were stolen by Doom. Clearly unimpressed with the theft of his former heralds’ power being taken by a pitiful human; he takes them from Doom and gives them back to The Surfer. The episode was lousy. I don’t think I have to explain why.
The one saving grace of this seasons depiction of Galactus should come as no surprise – it’s Tony Jay. The veteran brought presence and depth to a character that was absent in both. While many of the villains would be recast in season two, to dare replace Tony Jay would’ve been foolish beyond comprehension. Unfortunately, Jay passed away earlier in the year. Another great voice actor lost…