Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bygone Galactus!

Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta

Jack Kirby and George Klein


Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta
 

One upon a time the great Galactus was a truly awesome and fearsome character. As rendered by the late great Jack Kirby and voiced by Stan Lee, Galactus was aloof, dour, and terrifyingly single minded. He saw, he came, you died!

Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott

But over the decades of course repeated visits with the Big "G" have inevitably diminished his place in the Marvel Universe. When once he was an awesome allegory of an Old Testament Jehovah,  he has become alas merely another in a catalog of cosmic creatures. It's sad there's nothing in the MU that's quite as scary as Galactus was once upon a time, with the possible exception of Joe Quesada.

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12 comments:

  1. Ironically, it was probably the introduction into the Marvel Universe of Kirby's Celestials (from The Eternals) that helped to diminish Galactus's place in the scheme of things. (As well as what you said.)

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    1. That's a good point. The Celestials do in many ways replicate some of the same mythic territory Galactus occupied. The fact the Celestials never talk (at least not to my memory) makes them scary and remote, in a way Galactus once was.

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    2. I think Galactus had been diminished from overuse well before The Eternals came along. It would be tempting to put the blame for this on all those appearances during the years Jack was away at DC and Marvel was endlessly recycling every Kirby creation...but really, Stan and Jack may have brought him back one too many times while they were still collaborators for his mystique to survive unscathed. Each time he returned, no matter how great the story, it would inevitably produce diminishing returns.

      On some level, though it probably wasn't conscious on Jack's part, the Celestials may have been a creator looking at what a big deal one of his creations had become and thinking "That's no big deal, I could do a that a dozen times!"

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    3. I've read that some think his second appearance was the beginning of the end of his awesome quality, and I get that, but it was my first encounter so it hangs pretty nicely for me. But there's no denying that any re-use of a character like that is going to weaken their effectiveness. By the time of Gabriel the Air-Walker it was pretty much over I think.

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    4. RE: "No big deal...could do that a dozen times" :\ lol, whatever :) I'm sure that that's probably *exactly* what his intent was wen he sat down to make those stories :S ...now where's my "sarcasm" emoticon? :P :D

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  2. Whenever I read a Galactus story, I "hear" the voice of Ted (Lurch) Cassidy who did the Big G in his first animated appearance in 1967...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPNzNjXJBOw
    ...with Vic (Outer Limits) Perrin as the Silver Surfer, the perfect combo of awesome/scary (Cassidy) and gentle/heroic (Perrin).

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    1. I can hear him right now in my noggin. The FF cartoon was very much part of my introduction into the mythology of Marvel. I have hard time though with the Surfer though knowing what Perrin looks like, since he was a regular on Dragnet among other things. His voice on Outer Limits too is truly iconic.

      That's a great link. Thanks.

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  3. "Quesada"....brilliant!

    My first Galactus issue was the Byrne one where Reed fights to save Galactus. I have a mini-statue of that cover on my desk.

    That, coupled with Reed's subsequent trial, and Secret Wars were it for me for a long time...made him still seem unique to me...

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    1. Byrne did good by Galactus and did attempt to elevate him. But sadly it's just not possible to shove the genie back into the bottle on these things. Just using him at all makes him less awesome, just seeing him makes him less mysterious.

      Galactus remained a great character, but his special nature as the most significant threat ever in the cosmos was dwindling. It's unavoidable.

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  4. Rip --

    I'm presently writing a review of Mark Alexander's Lee & Kirby: The Wonder Years (TwoMorrows 2011 -- aka TJKC #58), and several times Alexander makes the same claim that you did about all subsequent Galactus appearances after the original trilogy watering him down.

    By the way, The Wonder Years is a great read -- Alexander is opinionated to the point where I really wanted to get out my FF dvd-rom and read all of the stories for which he'd made a thought-provoking or even inflammatory comment. That, is good writing!

    Doug

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    1. I've been reading the Alexander book off and on over the past few months (just found a copy recently), so it's possible that influenced or inspired my thoughts on Galactus. I didn't think about it until you mentioned it, but it's likely.

      Alexander has a disdain for later FF that I don't necessarily share. I know that the creativity button on Kirby was switched off when he thought he was being disrespected, but some of the stories he created with Stan during that time are still ...well...fantastic.

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  5. I know, right? :\ I mean, it's the *exact* same thing by the umpteenth time that we hear about "God" in the Bible (Omnibus Collected Edition) that we think, "Y'kno, they seem to be out of ideas & relying on this character because he was somewhat appealing at first but now they're just bringing him back because they can't think of anything else & everyone else is just brain-dead hacks who can't think original thoughts to save themselves & cash a paycheque..." :P ;)

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