Monday, August 19, 2019

The Devourer... The Titan... The End!

Not long after he gained his freedom from his imprisonment on Earth, the Silver Surfer found himself in conflict with the Elders of the Universe, who were planning to not only destroy Galactus but all reality, as well. But the Elders' scheme ended in shambles, with three of their number (the Astronomer, the Trader, and the Possessor) being hurled into a black hole, while the others...

The others faced one heck of a reckoning.

Yet Galactus didn't have as long as he thought to adapt to the essence of the Elders he'd consumed (the Grandmaster, the Runner, Champion, the Gardener, and the Collector), who had later re-formed and began attacking him from within, debilitating him with convulsions. Meanwhile, having escaped from the realm of Chaos and Order (which, to the three Elders' astonishment, was an unexpected "drop-off point" they'd arrived at after being drawn into the black hole), the Silver Surfer has come to the aid of two of the Fantastic Four against none other than the In-Betweener, who has used the power of the Soul Gem to escape his masters and their realm via the black hole, where he prepares to honor his bargain with the three who were secretly his allies.

And so the group departs for our universe, leaving the Surfer and the FF trapped in the black hole. As for Galactus, sooner or later he would have had to face the In-Betweener, to whom Galactus is "the middle force between the extremes of his realm, as I was the middle force in mine! And even had I not promised [the Elders] his death, there can be but one of us here." But even with Galactus virtually helpless in the throes of the remaining Elders' attack, can destroying him be so easy for the In-Betweener?

To rid the universe of Galactus, then, the In-Betweener decides to hurl him into the black hole--a course of action the three Elders strongly object to, since their fellow Elders remain trapped within Galactus. But as they move to attack, the In-Betweener summons Death itself to claim them, after which he hurls Galactus' ship and all aboard into the black hole--which, as we've already seen happen, ends up in the realm of Chaos and Order, which the FF and the Surfer have returned to.

Got all that so far? Believe me, it's not easy condensing one of Steve Englehart's convoluted plots!

Back in our universe, what the In-Betweener doesn't yet realize is that the Surfer has informed Chaos and Order of how their rebellious creation has now escaped them and what he's been up to; needless to say, they're not happy with the In-Betweener. And so they act to save Galactus by drawing the other Elders out of his form--and once free of his, er, indigestion, Galactus becomes obsessed with a single goal:

I would have thought flattening the Elders like pancakes would have been first on his hit list, but what do I know?

Cut to Galactus, the Surfer, Nova, the FF, and the Elders returning to our universe--and one incredible, impending confrontation.

Having already been humbled by Dr. Strange, the In-Betweener appears to have no intention of losing a second conflict with one of this realm's beings. But having already seen him fail to destroy Galactus, how can he hope to prevail here? We'll have to wade through a few pages of each of these combatants describing the basis for their respective existence in order to find that out; of course, that doesn't by any means translate to a cessation of hostilities.

If what the In-Betweener says is true, then his reasoning would have applied in his first attempt to slay Galactus--but with this fight now in full swing it's probably pointless to pick such nits.

Unknown to either of them, however, those witnessing the battle have combined their forces to bring about the In-Betweener's defeat--by returning him to those who plan to ensure that his days of escaping his leash are over.

To find out what happened to the In-Betweener after he was left to the tender mercies of Chaos and Order, we need to join none other than Thanos, as he prepares to fulfill Death's wish to eliminate half the population of the universe. To accomplish his task, he proposes to embark on a search for the Infinity Gems, which in 1990 are still referred to by another name:

Given that the In-Betweener possesses one of the Soul Gems, the Soul Gem (you see the problem of the collective gems being named so redundantly), and that the In-Betweener forced Death to eliminate three of the Elders, Death has no qualms about granting Thanos permission to conduct his quest in order to see the In-Betweener pay for his effrontery. And so we soon find Thanos in the Nexus of Reality, the shared realm of Chaos and Order, where the In-Betweener is currently on ice indefinitely--and it immediately becomes apparent what one can do for the other.

Once the two work together to shatter the In-Betweener's prison, however, Thanos' deception is revealed--leaving the In-Betweener no better off than when Thanos found him. In fact, after an apparent escape attempt, he's likely even worse off in the eyes of his jailers.

It's only after Thanos gains the second gem (Power) from the Elder, Champion, that he devises a different name for all of the gems he seeks, a name that would of course live on to appear nearly thirty years later on theater marquees as part of a very lucrative film franchise.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes Judo Jim gets carried away!
I mean, dig "Cosmic" as much as the next guy...

Big Murr said...

Some artists and writers can rise to the occasion and supply a story with a...cosmic gravitas. Enigmatic nobility. Forces beyond understanding translated down to human comprehension.

The bits and pieces presented here suggest this story arc is the opposite of cosmic gravitas. Galactus writhing on the floor with a tummy ache? The Elders of the Universe Battalion (how many of them are there?). And that fight between Galactus and the In-Betweener...yeesh. Galactus swinging a roundhouse right that knocks a bit of blood (and probably a tooth) from the In-Betweener's mouth? Such a battle should not look like the Thing and Hulk having a rumble down on the docks.

Now, Excalibur #61 (1992)...Alan Davis portrayed a clash between Phoenix and Galactus that resonated. The reader practically winces at the cosmic energies unleashed (with elegant silence, devoid of sound effects or word balloons) and knows the planet they're standing on is being laid waste.

Comicsfan said...

I've admittedly never been fond of the visual of Galactus throwing punches; I didn't care for it when he faced the Sphinx, and I don't much care for his brawler act here. He seems to be handled this way whenever his opponent is of (or rises to) his stature--the exception being his brief battle against the High Evolutionary, where the two don't exchange physical blows. Facing the In-Betweener, he's also furious, despite his frequent instances of proclaiming that anger is for lesser beings. If Galactus makes it to the big screen (as something other than a cloud, that is), it's a fair bet that Dwayne Johnson might snag the role.

Warren JB said...

Galactus is the absence of opposites; he has no opposite; the In-Betweener is opposites; he's Galactus' opposite; but Galactus has no opposite; so the In-Betweener is his opposite; even though Galactus has no opposite; and oh no I've gone cross-eyed.