It's time for a few answers--as well as, believe it or not, Galactus!--in Part 3 of
So here's what this installment finally clears up about Galactus' health issues, as well as his decision to return to Earth to consume it. We already knew that Galactus, in his destruction of various worlds for sustenance, made little to no distinction between worlds barren of life or those teeming with populations of whatever species inhabited them. The Silver Surfer, during his time as Galactus' herald, made a conscious effort to divert his master from populated worlds--that is, before Galactus tampered with his memories and, by extension, his conscience. Yet, even with the Surfer's efforts now compromised, Galactus had no "preference" for the type of energy a world offered him, as long as it would sustain him. He maintained, you'll excuse the expression, a balanced diet.
That changed when Red Shift, the newest herald that Galactus conscripted, began directing Galactus to only those worlds that possessed the "life energy" of living beings. Which had a detrimental effect on Galactus, as Alicia Masters reiterates when Galactus arrives on Earth:
Of course this development as to what constitutes "life" energy or "life" force seeks to further define the terms for this series, since previously it seemed that Galactus always selected a world as though it were all just lumped together:
For instance, look what substitute the Surfer once found for Galactus to consume, just from an explosive reaction:
So this issue now elaborates on the evolution of this process:
Suffice to say that, as if having Galactus roaming around the universe with a knife and fork wasn't bad enough, now he's become a virtual drug addict thanks to Red Shift, desperate to do whatever it takes to shoot up again, with no respite between feedings--and this time targeting only populated worlds. I think we can safely assume that a twelve-step program isn't going to work on this guy.
And since Galactus already knows from past experience of a certain planet bursting with life--our very own Earth--he makes that his next stop, despite his promise never to attempt to consume it again. A promise which the Surfer reminds him of, but who probably wishes he'd kept his mouth shut with this response from Galactus:
Y'know, even as often as it's been cited in various stories, for the life of me I can't remember when this so-called promise to keep the Earth off his menu was extracted from Galactus. But I don't feel so bad, because even Stan Lee, the darned writer at the time, is clueless on the subject:
Anyway, as Galactus proceeds with his preparations, Reed Richards gathers everyone and tells them his plan for hopefully salvaging the situation:
Which I thought was a nice touch, considering this scene from Galactus' origin that shows us just what that crazy outfit does for him:
No idea how Reed knew about that, though. I doubt it's the sort of information Galactus would want to get around. Maybe the Watcher let it slip to Reed at some point. Man, the gossip Uatu must be able to dish.
So now the stage is set for this big battle issue, nicely drawn by John Buscema and inked by Bill Sienkiewicz. Good teamwork from all the players, which allows the Vision to deploy Reed's "drill." Yet as the device takes effect, Galactus neutralizes it and lashes out, scattering everyone and forcing them to regroup and consider another plan. While the FF and the Avengers focus on Galactus' energy siphons, the Surfer decides to try pleading with him again--and it finally becomes clear why Galactus has refrained from harming the Surfer during this conflict. He strikes a bargain with his former herald, one which he's attempted before:
And the Surfer accepts. Only this time, there's no fine print involving sending Galactus to the Negative Zone.
The issue ends with the Surfer saying his goodbyes to his friends, including Alicia. Yet as he and Galactus head off into space, he's hopeful he can still stay true to his conscience:
This guy isn't all that great with promises, is he?
We'll see how he does in Part 4, when an old flame rejoins him. Let's hope Alicia doesn't show up, too. I'm not sure how Galactus feels about love triangles, but in his current state I'm guessing he's not crazy about them taking up the Surfer's time.