Galactus, the eater of worlds had come to Earth before. It was the scene of his greatest defeat when his herald the Silver Surfer aided the Fantastic Four in turning him away. The Surfer was punished by being imprisoned on Earth itself, but the Earth abided.
Now Galactus is hungry yet again and without his herald he cannot find the sustenance he requires. So he returns to Earth to find his herald, but there's a problem. The Surfer has disappeared. Galactus sends his cyborg Punisher to the planet again to seek out the Surfer and he battles the Fab 4.
Surviving the encounter with the Punisher, the FF must learn where the Surfer has gone and find him or the Earth will end. To further convince them Galactus creates weird and grim dopplegangers of the Fab 4 and has them attack in a deadly and surprisingly frightening struggle.
They figure out that he has gone small, disappearing into the Micro-World and so the FF, or at least Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch go after him. Sue Richards is pregnant and sidelined for the battle, being attended to by Crystal the Inhuman. The FF get into the Micro-World, the realm ruled by the deadly Psycho-Man and look for the Surfer.
They find the Surfer and tell of the call from Galactus and of Earth's peril. Despite his new-found freedom the noble Silver Surfer immediately returns to full size to once to help save the day. The Fantastic Four are still in Sub-Atomica or the Micro-World and find themselves fighting the android minion of the Psycho-Man.
While the Fantastic Four battle and defeat the Psycho-Man in his own lair, the Silver Surfer successfully finds an alternative planet for Galactus to consume and Earth is saved once again. But the Surfer for all his heroics is once again returned by his former master to his planetary prison.
This story line was my first encounter with the awesome power of Kirby and I at first didn't grok the greatness. The story here is a bit of a placeholder with the FF in fine form and the Surfer getting plenty of the spotlight. Galactus despite some potent splash pages fades out with little effect as the Surfer momentarily meets his immediate need. The problem with a Galactus is that each subsequent appearance will diminish him. But that doesn't stop them from going to the World Eater time and again in future stories.
This storyline set the stage for the Surfer's own magazine and we'll take a look at that next week.