web stats

CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #340

Welcome to the three hundredth and fortieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn the inspiration behind both the Trial of Reed Richards and Knightfall! Plus, did the Katzenjammer Kids have to change their name because of anti-German sentiment during World War I?

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and thirty-nine.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: “The Trial of Reed Richards” came about in response to a two-page bit in an issue of Uncanny X-Men.


John Byrne’s classic “Trial of Reed Richards” story from Fantastic Four #262 is one of the most fondly remembered issues from Byrne’s excellent Fantastic Four run.

In it, Reed Richards defends his actions in allowing Galactus to live (as he did in an earlier storyline in Byrne’s Fantastic Four run

arguing that Galactus is beyond ideas of “good” or “evil.”

Interestingly enough (especially following Meta-Messages Month), the story came about in response to a Fantastic Four cameo in Uncanny X-Men that Byrne had no idea was coming!

In Uncanny X-Men #167, Chris Claremont addressed the earlier Fantastic Four storyline (where the Fantastic Four and the Avengers pass up the opportunity to kill Galactus) by having Lilandra pay Reed Richards a visit…

I suppose Claremont was likely irked at the notion that Phoenix “had” to be killed because she destroyed a planet and then Galactus did not. I can’t say for sure what Claremont’s motivation was.

Byrne was shocked to see the Fantastic Four appear in an issue of X-Men without he or his Fantastic Four editor consulted, so he went to the Editor-in-Chief, Jim Shooter, who suggested that Byrne do a “response” to it.

Byrne already had his run all planned out and did not want to have to interject a story like this, but he felt he did need to have some sort of response, so he used the “Assistant Editor’s Month” concept to fit in the Trial storyline.

Byrne even guest-starred in the issue, where it is definitively answered that Galactus is NOT “evil”…

Thanks to reader Bernard the Poet for suggesting this one!

COMIC LEGEND: Peter Milligan originated the idea for Knightfall.

STATUS: False enough for a false

Awhile back, reader Cass noted:

According to something I read…it was Milligan who pitched the idea of Knightfall to Denny O’Neil, even though the actual scripting was passed onto Moench and Dixon.

I posed the question to Milligan awhile back and he gave a general no, but he elaborated even further in an interview with Kiel Phegley in Comic Book Resources’ Bat-Signal feature here.

Phegley asks:

Getting ready for this interview, I saw a lot of references to you being the person who inspired the Batman mega-epic “Knightfall” before leaving “Detective,” but I never saw confirmation from you on the particulars of that fact. Can you tell me a little about your role in the bigger Bat-plans of the time?

Milligan responds:

This has all probably got a little out of control, and I can’t throw too much light on it. In fact, I think it was “Sword of Azrael” that I had some influence on…It was towards the end of my tenure on “Detective” (I had some other things I wanted to do, so I asked to leave the book) and I had a meeting with then editor Denny O’Neil. I said that though I wasn’t going to write it, “A good idea would be to…” and I then described something that Denny liked and which morphed into Azrael. I seem to remember getting a call from Alan Grant where he said something like “Ach, Peter. You bastard. Thanks a lot.” There was never ever any sense of DC pinching an idea from me or anything like that, in fact they were pretty generous in recognizing my contribution to the storyline.

When Milligan says “Azrael,” he doesn’t mean Azrael specifically, but rather the notion that there might be a character out there who is “more Batman than Batman himself.”

This, then, inspired O’Neil to do the Knightfall storyline, which was always about how O’Neil wanted to demonstrate that there was a specific need for Bruce Wayne to be Batman and that an “edgy” hero just would not work in the role.

Story continues below

So I think (and I know Milligan agrees) that it is too much of a stretch to go to “Milligan pitched the idea for Knightfall,” although O’Neil has always been quite vocal in crediting Milligan’s involvement in the process.

Thanks to Cass for the suggestion and thanks to Milligan and Phegley for the information!

COMIC LEGEND: The Katzenjammer Kids got a name change during World War I.


With today being Veteran’s Day, which was originally Armistace Day (as it is still called in other parts of the world) to celebrate the end of World War I, I figured it only right to deal with a legend related to World War I.

The Katzenjammer Kids is one of the longest-running comic strips in American history. It debuted in 1897 and continues to this very day!

Created by German immigrant Rudolph Dirks, the strip was about two young boys who got into all sorts of trouble….

while their father figure, The Captain, would work as a comic foil to the boys…

After a dispute with the paper, Dirks took the characters to a rival newspaper in 1914 (initially without a name and then under the name Hans and Fritz, the first names of the boys), while the original strip continued under the Katzenjammer Kids name under the pen of Harold H. Knerr (who drew the strip for decades).

During World War I, though, anti-German sentiment was strong in the United States. It was SO bad that BOTH newspapers actually re-named their comics!

Hans and Fritz became Captain and the Kids, a name it kept until it folded in 1979 (yes, rival versions of the same strip were able to stay in business for over 60 years!).

And, for a few years, the Katzenjammer Kids became the Shenanigan Kids! Here’s a strip from 1920…

Pretty amazing, huh?

Thanks to Barnacle Press for the strip scans! And thanks to Mary Warner for reminding me that it was both strips that got their name changed, not just Katzenjammer Kids.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). If we hit 3,000 likes on Facebook you’ll get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000 likes! So go like us on Facebook to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Also, be sure to check out my website, Legends Revealed, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at legendsrevealed.com.

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!


Hunh. I always thought that bit was Claremont plugging the upcoming FF story as a friendly gesture to Byrne.

Wow… That John Byrne FF run… those were the good ol’ days. For a measly 60 cents you could have your mind BLOWN each month. And what a clever response to the X Men appearance!

And speaking of the X Men… Good times, as well… Claremont was firing on all cylinders. Lilandra and the Shiiar were featured prominently at that time, and as refugees from worlds destroyed by Galactus, it was so fitting that they respond in this manner. That is the way characterization in comics should be approached.

I just recently listened to a podcast interview with Doug Moench from a few years ago when he said that he either in his 1st run or in the earlier part of his second run on the title that he had pitched the idea for Bruce Wayne having to step down and for another person to assume the mantle.It also was to have resulted in the replacement Batman going too far and causing Bruce Wayne to stop him and become The Dark Knight once again. When Moench told the story I got a sense that it was just a unique coincidence that the exact same storyline was pitched later on during a meeting of the various writers and artists of the Bat-family of books.

Just picked up Byrne’s FF Omnibus (vol. 1). 1000 pages of Byrne’s goodness.

Unfortunately, the Trial of Reed Richards won’t be in vol. 1, but hopefully in vol. 2.

Great FF storyline, but I HATED the fact that Byrne had himself featured as a character in it. I don’t mind Marvel staff appearing in more lighthearted stuff, but for an important story like this it feels out of place and kinda affects its credibility to me.

Look at me complaining about credibility in cosmic superhero comics.

Here’s a few quotes by John about his the Galactus and what Chris Claremont wrote.

You may recall that after I had the FF and Avengers save Galactus, Chris had Lilandra zap herself into Reed and Sue’s bedroom, to read them the riot act. (Without clearing it with the FF editorial office, of course.) Chris could not accept that Dark Phoenix “had to die” but Galactus didn’t.

Which was rather odd, when you think about it, since it was the creator — or co-creator to be completely accurate — of Galactus who had said Galactus was “beyond good and evil”, and it was Chris, as the co-creator of Phoenix and Dark Phoenix, who said the Phoenix Entity was evil. Evidently he was okay with that as long as Dark Phoenix was going to be a recurring villain, but not once Shooter made it necessary for Phoenix to die.


Galactus had become a particularly big stone in Chris’ craw. Why did Phoenix have to die, but Galactus doesn’t?? he would demand to know. The answer “Galactus is not evil, Phoenix was” was not good enough. So he snuck that scene into an issue of X-MEN, where Lilandra confronts and threatens Reed and Sue (in their bedroom, no less!). The scene was NOT shown to the FF office. We knew nothing about it until the book was published.


My editor and I were furious when we saw the X-MEN scene. As noted, it had NOT been approved by the FF office as, under Shooter, all such cross-referencing and guest appearances were supposed to be. I went to Shooter and complained, invoking his own rules. Of course, Shooter’s rules changed from minute to minute, often without him bothering to tell the rest of us, so his response was to tell me to “do your own response to it!” Since I already had the next couple of years of FF stories plotted and approved at that point, I was in no mood to shove a whole new story into the middle of everything. (That was actually what had happened on UNCANNY, with Dazzler!) But Shooter left me no option.

I can understand Byrne being POed, though in fairness, that was a rather obvious ramification of the story Byrne had told.

One thing about Claremont is that he often produces (and provokes from others) excellent work when he personally disagrees with a creative direction elsewhere. The one time X-Treme X-Men really came alive for me was when Claremont used it to respond to Grant Morrison’s changes to the main X-titles. Claremont put the two titles into dialogue in a really interesting way.

I have to say, all through Meta-Messages Month I was struck by how petty a lot of the digs at other writers’ stories seemed. But even if these X-Men and FF stories were purely motivated by writers getting pissed off, the result really reads like one overarching narrative, keeping a dialogue going across titles. This is an example of a meta-message being handled very, very well, despite all the backstage drama.

A small thing – in the US today is Veteran’s Day, but in many many parts of the world, including the UK, it is still Armistice Day.
Lest we Forget, no matter what people call it.

Obviously, the secret to good cross-book continuity and multi-title storylines isn’t editor cross-over approval, or management mandated big event events… It is anger and vitriol between writers.

Fair point, Slakker! Thanks, I fixed it.

Yeah, the feuding between Byrne and Claremont was petty and stupid, but my lord, look at what it resulted in giving us, the readers. Both men rose to amazing creative heights in an attempt to one-up each other.

THESE are the kinds of feuds we need in comics today.


I’m confused on exactly what Byrne expected Shooter to do. He couldn’t kill the scene, since the comic had already gone out. Did he want Shooter to give Claremont a time out or something?

Thanks for the story behind “The Trial of Reed Richards”. I have the whole Byrne FF run, and i agree with the earlier reader who disliked Byrne injecting himself into the proceedings. As I recall, my particular beef with that was more about what Byrne said, where he unloaded an “angry tirade” on the arrogance of Lilandra. In fact, Lilandra had a perfectly valid point and every right to put Reed on trial.

What I’ve disliked about this is that, over the years, various writers have gotten away from this essential idea – i.e., that Galactus is a force of nature who/that has an essential role to play in the destiny of the cosmos. This was done again in the most recent Galactus appearance in Thor, where G and the Silver Surfer come to earth looking for the seed from the World Tree because consuming it will feed G’s hunger for ages. But if that’s true, then it seems to undermine the whole idea that G and his hunger serve a higher purpose. Similarly, when G appeared in the short-lived “Thanos” series, that storyline also revolved around G finding a way to satiate his hunger. Again, this makes little sense if G understands that his role is fundamentally important to the fate of the universe.

On the other hand, I have liked that the Phoenix itself has been revealed as a primal force of the universe, maybe even as the source of Galactus’ power (at the least, the two have a relationship that needs to be better defined and explained). It makes sense that these primal powers are beyond good and evil. The initial decision to destroy Phoenix, even though it made for an excellent story, also seemed a bit illogical on the part of editorial. The final story that emerged – the idea that a flawed human being would be corrupted by the infinite power of the Phoenix – made a great deal of sense, without that implying that the Phoenix itself was evil.

I’m interested in seeing how the Phoenix is brought back in the coming year. Hopefully, it’s role in the MU will be clearly explained.

Brian from Canada

November 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Much as I agree with you, Jay, I don’t think we CAN have such feuds at Marvel today.

For one thing, the books were FAR more separate then than they are now. In today’s Marvel time, there’s a major crisis involving every major team in a crossover every second Sunday.

For another, Shooter’s edict guaranteed communication between the editorial offices, allowing writers the chance to dialogue and plot around such events as they need be (a point Marvel misses when you factor in that we have no idea where anything fits anymore vs. where stories like “Inferno” do). When events like this happened — and they seem to be quite rare — it was up to the individual office or editors to work out, and often with the goal of NOT disrupting existing plots, which is something else they just don’t do.

Honestly, with the way Marvel editorial is “retreating” for events so often, I don’t think there’s really time to plan around the crises — unless, of course, you’re a craftsman like Peter David who knows when to just modify your plots to include the event rather than totally dismiss them.

Brian from Canada

November 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm


I think Byrne may have been hoping Shooter would force Claremont to deal with it in-house — i.e., have Xavier admonish her for not realizing heroic humanity’s dedication to life as a concept, or having her being told she angered The Fantastic Four and that hurt The X-Men somehow. Instead, Shooter put the onus back on Byrne, which is why he had to deal with it in his own comic.

Michael P, I’d love to know what John expected Shooter to do. Here’s another quote about the matter.

To put things in context, Shooter was deep into his period (not yet over) of having rules for every occasion. One of his rules was that anyone who wanted to use a character that belonged to another title would have to clear it with that title. The X-Men usage of the FF was actually done on the sly — no one in the FF office knew about it until the issue shipped. So we (the FF office) demanded that Shooter do something about it. Something punative.
Instead, he told us that we should “respond”, and do a story that played off the X-MEN scene. Oh — and, of course, any use of Lilandra would have to be cleared thru the X-Office…


I can only imagine what punative action Byrne wanted Shooter to take. I’m thinking bamboo under the finger nails?

Man, I just saw that ‘Trail of Reed Richards’ issue the other day and didn’t buy it. Stupid me. I hope it’s still there.

It seems disengenuous of either Claremont or the straw-man version of Claremont that Byrne is spinning to say that Phoenix had to die because she was a villain. Everything I’ve ever seen on that — including other quotes from both of them, I believe — was that she had to die specifically because she could no longer be considered a hero after having committed a genocide. Galactus — whether “beyond good and evil” or not — is not a hero. Isn’t that a fairly major distinction, or am I missing something?

[That said, Galactus has always seemed like one of those characters who gets re-used too much, because the initial story was so good, but most of his subsequent appearances just dull the character’s power. Not that this is in any way unique in comics!]

Byrne’s comparison of the heroes deciding to save Galactus with the Avengers deciding not to kill the Molecule Man but to convince him to seek psychiatric treatment struck me as a flawed analogy. Aside from the fact that there’s arguably a difference between not killing someone and saving their lives, the Molecule Man doesn’t HAVE to kill people. He’s a danger to the public because of his various issues, and sending him to psychiatric treatment is taking steps to eliminate the danger. Galactus, OTOH, HAS to consume other planets to survive. Saving him and then making him vow not to feed on Earth just means that other planets will be eaten. A more accurate analogy would be the Avengers taking the Molecule Man to Mexico and telling him they’ll leave him alone as long as he doesn’t hurt anyone north of the border.

As we all know now, we need Galactus. Equity, Necessity, and Vengeance must all be balanced.

A couple more notes:
One of the things that bothered me about the Trial of Galactus is that it took place after Lilandra was ousted as Empress yet everyone treated Lilandra like she was still in charge of the Shi’ar.
The editorial offices didn’t always communicate during the Shooter years- the major reason why the Scott and Maddie mess dragged out as long as it did was because the X-Men office had control over Maddie and the X-Factor office had control over Scott and the two offices couldn’t agree on a resolution.

Always thought Knightfall was a blatant rip-off of the John Walker Saga in Captain America

You mentioned that Dirks’s second strip eventually settled on the name ‘Captain And The Kids’. I read years ago that it was originally titled ‘Hans And Fritz’, but this was changed because of World War I. When I saw the legend today, I assumed that was what it was going to be. I guess it’s possible the old source I read got the two name changes confused, but it would be interesting if both strips actually did change their names for the same reason.

I always thought Englehart did a great job explaining why Galactus is so necessary for the continuing existence of the Universe back in the Silver Surfer (which came a few years after the Byrne story). It annoys me that other writers seem to have completely forgotten about that story.

Always thought Knightfall was a blatant rip-off of the John Walker Saga in Captain America

I’m not much of a fan of the Knightfall storyline, but I’d say the John Walker Saga is more similar to, say, Wonder Woman being replaced by Orana/Artemis than it is to Knightfall. I think it would be silly to call that Captain America storyline a ripoff of 1978’s “New Wonder Woman” story, but no siller than it is to call Knightfall a ripoff of John Walker.

Now the recent Cap & Batman stories in which each was seemingly shot dead and replaced by his former teen sidekick (after some hullabaloo about how would wear the cowl or wield the shield) when it turned out that the magic bullet actually sent him back in time and he had to find his way back to the present… well, you’d have much more of a case to call shenanigans there.

IIRC, at the time Lillandra made her threat, wasn’t she actually powerless to actually do anything of the sort (only the X-Men had any knowledge of Shiar politics at the time), and actually made a comment to that effect once the hologram was off? So, what she was doing was trying to make Reed re-evaluate his actions, via an empty threat. As such, was there really even a NEED for Byrne to answer it?

Well, I never really bought the explanation that Galactus had to live because he was a “force of the universe” and was beyond notions of “good and evil” when the reality is HE’S NOT BEYOND ANY SUCH NOTIONS. How else are we supposed to accept the notion that Galactus is willing to spare a world if one of its inhabitants is willing to act as his herald? Does the lion make a bargain with a zebra? Does a spider make a bargain with a fly? Does a hornet make a bargain with a honeybee? No. Why? None of those creatures have any recognized degree of sentience.

Additionally, the whole idea of Galactus as explained during Byrne’s FF run was that Galactus HAD to feed on “living worlds,” but worlds that just happened to have sentient life. It always seemed that Galactus could never find a “living world” that was also uninhabited by any form of sentient life. (I know some of his heralds did try to find suitable worlds that didn’t have any higher life-forms but it also seemed that their efforts proved in vain after a short time.)

I saw this story as nothing more than an apologetic to let Marvel keep Galactus around, regardless of the untold BILLIONS of beings (sentient and otherwise) who would be murdered to appease Galactus’ hunger, yet Phoenix had to die for her/its murders (even more, the *potential* murders). Just because Lee and Kirby hadn’t created the Phoenix was NOT a sufficient enough reason to kill off the Phoenix while abetting Galactus’ continued existence.

Brian from Canada

November 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm


Phoenix wasn’t supposed to die. Claremont wanted her de-powered completely, turning down Magneto when he offers her the powers back, and giving birth to Rachel before dying at the manipulation of Mastermind. Phoenix would become a separate character.

Shooter, however, refused to accept that. Phoenix had committed genocide. She had to die. There’s an issue, actually, that reprints the story with its original ending and an interview about how the story was to end and why it was changed.

Haha, oh wow I think I posted that comment about Peter Milligan like two years ago. Cool to finally know the true story. Funny that Milligan is now writing Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns (i.e. edgy, extreme counterparts to the GL Corps).

Come on, raise your hands now. Who would like to see Trial of Reed Richards, Doomsday +4 etc. done as 2-hour DVD videos in the style of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, kinda like DC’s video releases? Marvel now has an animation infrastructure in place as DC did with the 90’s Batman show, I say take the ball and run with it!

Let’s see some classic Avengers stories, Byrne FF, early Claremont X-Men etc., Thor, feature length animation!!!

I think the question of whether or not Galactus is “beyond good or evil” depends on where you’re standing. If you happen to be living on a planet that’s about to be consumed by Galactus, I think that, from your point of view, you would have a very valid reason for regarding him as evil!

By the way, was there something is “The Trial of Galactus” where John Byrne reasoned that Galactus was testing a species’ continued right to survival by whether or not they possessed the ability to defeat him? If so, humanity flunked that exam way back in Galactus’ first appearance. It was the Watcher leading the Fantastic Four to the Ultimate Nullifier that enabled Reed Richards to drive Galactus away. Without the Watcher’s interferance, left to our own devices, humanity would have been toast.

It’s a testament to the Claremont/Byrne/Shooter dynamics that we’re still debating the stories 30 years later. Whatever their differences, these creators were at the top of their game and Marvel was in its zenith. Those truly were the days.

Wow, it is sad how far Byrne has fallen from those glory days of the ’80s and early ’90s. It’s like he’s Cyndi Lauper, who created fun, influential, classic and iconic work – but only for a brief moment, before fading into unmemorable mediocrity (IMO).

Not only did the Katzenjammer Kids become the Shenanigan Kids, but that strip shows their mother calling them Mike & Aleck instead of Hanz & Fritz.


This is possibly (hopefully) this first time John Byrne has ever been compared to Cyndi Lauper. And with good reason, to boot! Well played.

I never really bought the idea that Galactus was ”beyond good and evil” or even simply ”evil.” I preferred the idea that mankind was just so far beneath him that we just didn’t matter compared to his need for sustenance. Similar, I would suppose, to the idea that the hunter killing a deer for food isn’t concerned that the deer represents the world to the fleas and ticks on the animal. The fleas and ticks just don’t matter. It has nothing to do with being evil or good.
As for Phoenix, I think the saga leading up to her death was one of the best stories of that era, and she should have remained dead.
Are the two equivalent? I don’t remember thinking so at the time, mainly because the way the Phoenix was portrayed she was evil in the issues leading to her death. The best Galactus stories always made it clear that he wasn’t interested in committing evil, he was simply doing what was necessary to live.

To be fair, Byrne’s best period wasn’t just a “brief moment.” He had more or less a decade of great work from 1977 to 1987 or so.

Yeah, I agree with Rene. Byrne’s moment was far from brief.

Yeah, I’ll agree with Rene and T and even add a few more years onto Byrne’s strongest period by tacking on his early 90s run on NAMOR. That was a really solid piece of work.

I love John Byrne’s work, especially on FF, but I never liked how he resolved the Trial of Galactus. What bothered me wasn’t Byrne’s appearance (which was corny but had precedent) so much as the use of Eternity. There’s room to disagree on this Galactus thing, both in-story and out. And Byrne does let that debate play out for a while… but then he has the embodiment of the universe pop in and make everyone understand The Truth. That’s cheating.

Take Civil War. There were lots of problems with that story, but it played by the rules. The characters had a disagreement, they fought it out, and in the end, Cap reluctantly decided Tony was right about the issue. We’re still arguing that point today. What DIDN’T happen was this:

Iron Man: Give up!
Cap: Never!
(Suddenly, God descends upon a cloud)
Cap: Oh. Really?
God: YES.
(God ascends)
Cap: Huh. Well, uh… sorry about that.

Why can’t DC come up an Absolute or even an omnibus version of Knightfall? That storyline deserves more than the trade paperback whatsoever! Granted, many storyline are more superior than that later on, but nevertheless very essential in Batman cannon! The bottom line here is simple – I LOVE THAT STORY!

Brian from Canada is right: The issue for Claremont, according to the interviews he gave later, was that Jean was not guilty by reason of insanity when Phoenix (and she had, after all, had Mastermind warping her mental state) and while he wanted her powers gone, he didn’t see she deserved to die.
I always thought the idea of Reed saving Galactus was idiotic and Byrne’s concocted rationale was bullshit. Of course, I always thought the idea of Galactus being “beyond good and evil” was bullshit. He has to eat worlds to survive? Vampires have to eat people to live and nobody says they’re beyond good and evil. And despite vowing to Reed that he’d never attack Earth again, he’s never had any qualms about breaking his word when he’s hungry–that’s not above good and evil, that’s honest when convenient. Saving Galactus doesn’t just put the universe in danger, it puts Earth at risk too.
Byrne’s “cosmic Darwinism” rationale is just creepy. Galactus wiped out your world? Well, you were obviously an inferior species so you deserved to die and stop polluting the universe! As far as I can see he was trying to retcon a rationale to a really stupid story and it never worked for me.
Strong feelings? No, not me.

The guy above me is right, especially since Galactus doesn’t have to eat worlds with intelligent life. The logic of “it’s fine to save Earth, but everyone else should remain at risk” is extremely selfish and unheroic, and “everyone in the universe suddenly realized beyond a doubt that I was right” is a similar way to end a story.

I, too, thought that Lilandra’s intrusion into the FF home was more friendly creative support, Claremont laying the seeds for Byrne’s story and shoehorned in (didn’t find out about their creative disputes until decades later): Lilandra notes in the following pages of the X-Men story that since she was recently deposed by Deathbird, she doesn’t really have the authority to back her admonishment at the moment.

I kinda-sorta agree with Zeke, that this story ends with a cheat, almost literally a deus ex machina. Except I’m kinda ok with it, too. Byrne’s take on Majestrix Lilandra is that she’s sanctimonious and judgmental (IIRC he’s stated something like that in one of his stories?) She calls Reed a meddling, unmitigated fool, implying that he doesn’t understand the implications his heroic act would bring to the universe. While there were interesting arguments and witnesses, Eternity’s appearance puts the accusation back on the accuser: no, Lilandra, you are the meddling, unmitigated fool who doesn’t understand the big picture. While the Shi’ar empire claims its authority to pass judgment on the earthling Reed Richards through longevity and military might, it is impossible to deny the much higher authority of Eternity: papa’s gotta step in and say big sister’s a bullying idiot. Although, one has to wonder why not let Reed die unjustly a martyr, why bother to reveal cosmic truths for this trial when most philosophic/religious questions remain unresolved (other than it really IS a cheat, and Byrne just wanted to end this quickly).

When I reread the original Galactus story in trade, my impression was (I think it was implied at least) that this was the first time Galactus had attacked a world with sentient life. But if that was their intention, they obviously later decided they could get more mileage out of him destroying entire civilized worlds.

When I reread the original Galactus story in trade, my impression was (I think it was implied at least) that this was the first time Galactus had attacked a world with sentient life

I read it recently myself and that was definitely the case. I was surprised to realize that was the original intention myself.

Galactus calling Eternity “Father” is odd when you think about it, because Eternity came into being when the universe was formed, and Galactus is OLDER than the universe (or at least his formal mortal self was). That was established long before this issue.

Zeke’s imagined ending for Civil War would have been totally friggin’ awesome, though.

Byrne did some great stuff at Marvel. No doubt about it.

Until he did Chapter One. Nothing memorable from him since then.

I don’t see what Byrne was upset by. The FF characters do very little in that scene and waht they do is entirely within Byrne’s characterization.

I can see if Byrne felt there was some absolute policy about any presence of another character in your book. Maybe one he felt he was forced to acquiesce to in the past. But the usage itself does nothing to cut down what Byrne did.

I liked pretty much anything by Byrne up through the Next Men. After that, it went downhill.

[…] Comic Book Legends Revealed #340 (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

John Byrne can be so annoying. Learn to share, guy. The FF don’t belong to you and they never did.

Nightfall to Knightsend is still my favorite Batman crossover to date. And even though Knightfall is like 19 parts it never dragged. There was so much story in it. Great writing, characters and artists. Its a shame they never released any of the knightquest stories into trade.

I highly recommend readers who havent tried it to give it a go! :)

[…] Comic Book Legends Revealed #340 […]

I’m with Zeke…it’s like Byrne didn’t have an ending for his story, so the hand of god came in to fix it for him. They kinda did the whole thing with the Trial of Magneto. You have this great case, with arguments on both sides…but you can’t find a way to make your case logically compelling, so you have to just say “because it is so.” And that’s never a good finish for a promising story, even in a comic book. I want a “legal” resolution, not a divine one.

And I’m not clear what Frazier and T are referring to when they say it was the first world with sentient life he attacked….the Skrull homeworld? Earth? I mean, Zenn-la had to proceed both those. Though he didn’t consume it. Had the universe lucked out for billions of years till the Silver Surfer prevented it from happening for the first time? That seems like a stretch. Though Marvel has done worse.

When Galactus tells the Watcher that Earth is about to become one in a string of worlds he’s destroyed, the Watcher replies that “The others were dead worlds–no harm was done. There are billions of living beings on Earth.”
That’s what I’m talking about. Remember, at this point there was no Zenn-La–Kirby’s original concept (or so I’ve always heard) was that the Surfer was a creation of Galactus. Stan came up with Norrin Rad later. By which time they’d already revamped the Galactus concept to establish he had a long list of living worlds to answer for.
It’s true the Skrull Empire blacked itself out in FF 48 for fear Galactus would attack, but that doesn’t mean he has a history of attacking inhabited worlds, only that the possibility is damn scary.
Despite Galactus’ insistence in 49 that humanity is no concern of his, the implication is that he cares at least a little (not enough to spare us, obviously) about wiping out sapients. Maybe no more than “Well, I won’t trample on that ant hill since I have better things to do,” but it makes him a little less monstrous. As is, Reed’s decision to resuscitate someone who’s proven repeatedly that he’ll break his promise if he has to is well, damn stupid as well as immoral.

OK, I understand what you guys are saying now. It was kind of a ridiculous premise to begin with, because, really, Earth was the first? It also seems to deflate the Surfer in the story, because if as Kirby wanted he was a Galactus creation, where does he get the sympathy to humanity to turn on Galactus if not from his past? It seems Lee might have thought this one out better. I guess he could have some Frankenstein’s monster in him, but it works out a lot more weakly without the Zenn-La backstory at least implicitly, if not actually explicit in the story.

I think the Galactus ant idea is more that one would spray and set traps for ants that got into their sugar, but wouldn’t necessarily go out of their way to stop them on the sidewalk, or anthill. As for the ants saving the life of the person who’s hitting them up with Raid, even if they “say they won’t anymore”, I think I agree on the soundness of that decision.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives