Skip to content

The Galactus Origin Story, The Creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Devourer of Worlds

Appearing for the first time in 1966 in Fantastic Four #48, written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Jack Kirby (see our guide to the Fantastic Four series), Galactus was at first just another super-villain that was imagined to be bigger than the previous antagonists. In order to differentiate him from the others and avoid delivering a stereotypical bad guy, Lee and Kirby decided to go all in. The writer wanted him to be really evil, the artist went biblical. They wanted something new and created it.

Also known as the Devourer of Worlds, Galactus was at the heart of what is now called the Galactus Trilogy, Fantastic Four #48 to #50 (part of our best Marvel comic to read selection), and that was supposed to be the end of his story, but he became extremely popular and this prompt Lee and Kirby to bring him back (see Fantastic Four #120–123, #172–175, #208–213, or Thor #225–228). He became a mainstay in the Marvel Universe.

And in 1978, in the one-shot graphic novel The Silver Surfer: The Ultimate Cosmic Experience!, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby reunited to tell an out-of-continuity origin story of Galactus and the Silver Surfer without the Fantastic Four! It would not be the last time the origins and motivations of the characters would be explored though.

What are the origins of Galactus?

Let’s put aside the publishing story of Galactus to focus on the in-universe story of his origins. A long, long, time ago, before becoming Galactus, he was Galan, a humanoïd on the planet Taa, a wondrous paradise of scientific and social achievement. But Taa’s inhabitants were dying from a radiation-plague that couldn’t be stopped. As the universe was collapsing, Galan convinced some of his fellow survivors to die gloriously, flying a starship into the blazing cosmic cauldron. All died, but Galan was saved by the Phoenix Force.

One Multiverse disappeared, and a new one was created. Galan has been saved, but he was not the same. In this new universe, its essence was merged with the embodiment of the Sixth Infinity, the Sentience of the Cosmos, and thus Galactus was born. He didn’t have its final form from the beginning. At first, he was just raw energy contained by Galan’s starship that became an incubator. It took many centuries of evolution, but one day the craft found its way into orbit around a verdant planet called Archeopia. Years later, enemies of the Archeopian attacked the incubator and, as a result, awakened Galactus. He destroyed the assailants before consuming the life energies of Archeopia.

At first, Galactus could spend centuries without feeding himself with a new world—at that time, he was also seeking out uninhabited worlds. But things changed as hunger gradually grew and he had to feed more frequently. Seeing himself as a higher being, Galactus learned of a prophecy that justified the destruction he was responsible for—also after an encounter with Eternity and Death, the Devourer of Worlds took the position of being a balancing force between the two of them.

And Galactus Created the Heralds

Being what he is, Galactus was lonely and decided to have a companion for himself. He created a being in his own image, but this new creation—who became known as Tyrant—inherited the worst trait from his creator: he craved conquest. Taking down Tyrant was no easy task, but Galactus won and banished his creation.

After that, the Devourer of Worlds used mindless servants… Until the need for a herald rose. The first is known as The Fallen One. Empowered by dark energy, he was naturally cruel and Galactus decided to quickly imprison him. The herald escaped and attacked his master—and was defeated, but this is not the end of the story as the Fallen One escaped many times over the millennia.

The next Herald is a different story and you can read it by yourself, just follow our Silver Surfer reading order. Galactus was going to devour the planet Zenn-La, but one of its inhabitants offered him an alternative. In exchange for not destroying his planet, Norrin Radd volunteered to become a new herald. Galactus accepted and transformed Radd into the Silver Surfer.

The deal was beneficial to Galactus for a long time, as the Silver Surfer found numerous worlds for him to devour. But this ended when he came to Earth. Against his Herald and the Fantastic Four, Galactus was for the first time defeated. He spared Earth.