Fantastic Four #171-175
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #171, Fantastic Four #172, Fantastic Four #173, Fantastic Four #174, Fantastic Four #175
How do you ruin a Galactus story? The easiest way is to have the Impossible Man figure into the plot.
Galactus shows up wanting to eat Counter-Earth.
The FF are alerted to this when the High Evolutionary sends a golden gorilla to the real Earth to ask for help. In what promises to be "Not just another giant gorilla story!", the gorilla, Gorr, has a bad reaction with the Earth's atmosphere and grows to King Kong size, losing his intelligence. It really is just another giant gorilla story, except Fay Wray never stood around with an apron over her super-hero costume.
This depiction of Sue is especially aggravating because in the same issue she is shown to be increasing her powers, continuing her development as a full team member and not the FF's goddamn housekeeper.
The FF beat Gorr at the end and he shrinks back down to regular gorilla size and tells the FF that the High Evolutionary sent him. Right before he can talk, Reed says "If only he'd had a human master" to talk for him. Reed encounters a giant glowing space gorilla, and his first thought is that he should have a human master? Weird.
The Destroyer shell is still being used as Galactus' "herald", and the Thing goes out into space to fight him.
The whole time, he's worried about his exo-skeleton being smashed and getting killed in the vacuum of space. But then Galactus arrives and deactivates the Destroyer in order to take a more hands-on approach.
(This is a nice George Perez two-page splash so for once you can click on the image to get a larger version.)
Galactus puts a hole right through the Thing's exo-skeleton...
...and Reed has to pull him back into Gorr's ship. Galactus agrees to spare Counter-Earth if a replacement world can be found in one day. The High Evolutionary identifies three possible planets. One seems barren and lifeless, so it is ignored, and the Fantastic Four split up and go to the other two. Well, Mr. Fantastic and the Thing go to one planet, and the Human Torch and Gorr go to the other. Sue is left behind, as usual.
Reed and Ben's planet turns out to be the homeworld of Torgo, the robot that the Thing fought on the Skrull gangster planet.
After a misunderstanding fight they return to Counter-Earth. Johnny and Gorr's planet seems to be a medieval style world, but it turns out to be another world where Skrulls enjoy re-enactments of the Earth's historical fiction. It turns out there was only one native creature left living on the world - a dragon that the Skrulls kill.
Apparently, with no more native creatures living on the world, the planet is no longer suitable for Galactus, which i find to be a very strict interpretation of Galactus' diet.
Seeing that things are not going well, the High Evolutionary evolves himself into a giant-form in order to fight Galactus directly. You would think that would null and void the terms of Galactus' agreement, but apparently not. Meanwhile Sue figures she might as well check out that third, seemingly lifeless planet.
You see where this is going, right? Awesome Buscema-drawn fight between the High Evolutionary and Galactus.
Galactus wins, and begins setting up to eat Counter-Earth.
Then Sue returns, acting nothing like Sue, and offers him the seemingly barren world. Galactus accepts, but then, as he eats the world, he cries out in agony.
The High Evolutionary saves Galactus by hitting him with his evolutionary ray. This turns Galactus first into a super-deformed entity...
...and then a giant brain that subsequently turns into pure energy. It turns out that 'Sue' is really the Impossible Man. He gives some nonsense about all the people on his planet actually being a part of his consciousness, so they were happy to let Galactus eat them.
*Choke*, indeed. This story went from almost being a cool cosmic epic to a set-up for some silly gags about indigestion and the re-introduction of a character that was clearly intended to be a one time joke. Very disappointing conclusion, although it was still fun getting there.
Some interesting attitudes worth looking at: The High Evolutionary understanding that Galactus has a greater purpose and saving him, and the Fantastic Four being willing to put their lives on the line to save what is essentially an artificial planet. Also the parameters of what is an acceptable planet for Galactus: A world where all the organic lifeforms have left but that is still occupied by its robotic servants is OK, but a world where the last organic lifeform has just recently been killed is not. The Impossible Man's planet, full of people with a shared consciousness, nearly killed Galactus. My assumption was that Galactus needed to eat planets that were able to sustain life; that something about their essence was what Galactus needed. Apparently it just has to have native consciousness life on it. I also think Galactus is a little too willing to honor agreements. If i were the Fantastic Four, i'd be afraid to get involved in protecting Counter-Earth for fear that Galactus would then go and eat the real Earth instead. And if i were Galactus, i would have never accepted "Sue's" offer to go eat another planet after i'd fought everyone to eat the one i was currently on.
As punishment for fighting Galactus, the Thing gets changed back into his real Thing form, and the exo-skeleton suit is destroyed.
Since the suit will be seen again, i'll note that it brought Ben Grimm up to 90% of his Thing-strength...
Johnny and Frankie Raye are still dating, and she still freaks out whenever he flames on.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Letters Page for issue #173 says: 'All the "current stories" in Marvel Two-In-One occur before bashful Benjy's catastrophic alliance with the Hulk, which so drastically altered his life. Ditto for the recent issues of Super-Villain Team-Up.' Additionally, while Fantastic Four #176 shows the FF returning home, it also contains a 3 month gap that fits Marvel Two-In-One #21-36 and Super-Villain Team-Up #5-7. See the note in that entry for more. I am placing the Two-In-One issues before the #176-178 entry.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (11): show
Roy Thomas has mentioned in interviews that his FF runs were subject to meddling by Marvel higher-ups; I suggest that the "King Kong" sequences were demanded of Roy in order to cash in on the 1976 remake.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 11, 2011 5:54 AM
I have a question, I am trying to find the title to a Marvel comic that was a 200+ softcover comic that had the x-men, silver sirver, spiderman and others trying to defeat galatus. The cover had the galaxy background. I had this book as a kid but I am trying to find it now and it is killing me. Any help would be great. Had the comic in the 90s.
Posted by: Keith Rodriguez | October 6, 2011 2:42 PM
Fantastic Four #171 appears to be loosely based on the King Kong storyline, as Gorr seizing Sue Storm reminds one very much of Kong capturing Ann Darrow.
Posted by: Frightful Four fan | May 9, 2013 4:14 PM
Gorr's name may derive from the Counter-Earth called Gor from John Norman's novels.
Posted by: PB210 | May 10, 2013 11:40 PM
I thought the High vs. Galatcus battle was really cool, then I was disappointed that the issue was wrapped up until Galactus seemingly died so a pretty neat space arc.
Posted by: DavidBanes | December 8, 2013 10:15 PM
If you care, that's Fay "Wray," not "Ray" (a common error).
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | July 13, 2015 9:42 AM
Posted by: fnord12 | July 17, 2015 1:26 PM
I think the "terminal indigestion" bit was a homage to the twist endings of EC's SF stories. The "Good Lord!" "=Choke!=" dialogue is the giveaway.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | March 17, 2016 7:06 PM
Reed's dialog in 175 where he ponders what it's like to be a god is interesting. 40 year foreshadowing.
Posted by: Tork | January 23, 2017 12:53 PM
All 5 of these issues have Kirby penciled covers. Some have alterations by Romita Sr. and maybe Marie Severin on one of them, according to Nick Caputo and GCD at comics.org. https://www.comics.org/issue/30314/
Next issue, #176, also has a Kirby cover.
Posted by: Holt | December 22, 2017 3:12 PM
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