An Ancient Existence
Sole survivor of the universe existing before the Big Bang, Galactus is perhaps the most feared being in the cosmos. Untold billions of years ago, he was born the humanoid Galan on the planet Taa, a wondrous paradise of scientific and social achievement; however, his universe was in its final stages, with all matter plunging towards a central point via the "Big Crunch", collapsing into a new "Cosmic Egg", a sphere of disorganized, compact primordial matter. Galan, a space explorer, discovered a radiation-plague threatening all of Taa. Though he was initially scoffed at, the truth became clear as the people of surrounding planets perished. Despite the efforts of Taa's greatest scientists, no cure could be found, and the population began to die off. Galan convinced the handful of remaining survivors to die gloriously by flying a starship into the blazing cosmic cauldron. The others were killed by the intense radiation, but Galan was filled with new energy and saved by the Phoenix Force of the dying universe. The sentient energy spoke to Galan as it brought him into the Egg.
With the next Big Bang, the Cosmic Egg matter exploded outwards, eventually condensing into stars and planets. The future Galactus and his starship were re-created simultaneously with the embodiments of Eternity and Death, though he drifted inert for billions of years while new life began to populate the universe. The starship crashed on an unnamed planet, where Ecce The Watcher saw its occupant emerge as raw energy. Ecce recognized the danger the nascent being would pose and could have destroyed him then, but instead abides by his oath of non-interference. Launching his ship back into space, the being ejected its lifeless companions into the void, there to drift in endless flight. He then created a suit of armor to harness and regulate his awesome energies, and transformed his ship into an incubation chamber, where he spent countless centuries evolving into his current form. Eventually his craft again fell into orbit around a verdant planet, Archeopia. The advanced natives scanned the craft, detected its awesome energies, and wisely left it undisturbed.
The Giant Awakens
Years later, when interstellar war spread into that space sector, the Archeopians' unidentified enemies mistook the incubation craft for a weapon and fired upon it. Emerging unscathed, the being who adopted the name Galactus swiftly slaughtered invader and defender alike, then consumed the life-energies of Archeopia, the first of many worlds that would perish for his hunger; only a small fleet of Archeopians managed to escape. Surveying the destruction he had wrought, Galactus decided to create a world to outshine any other in existence. Though it took millennia, including breaks to replenish his energies, Galactus completed Taa II, an immense ship engulfing the entire Archeopian system, which he made his new home.
The Hunger Grows
Galactus initially went centuries between feedings, seeking out uninhabited worlds that could support life; but he gradually hungered more frequently, and began consuming inhabited worlds if he could find no others. He rationalized his actions by deeming himself a higher being, a belief made easier after learning of a prophecy that he would eventually compensate for all his destruction. In addition, he eventually encountered Eternity and Death, and the three beings hypothesized that Galactus represented a balancing force between the two opposites.
Lonely, Galactus created a being in his own image; however, while Galactus was content to survive, his creation craved conquest. The creation, becoming known as Tyrant, battled his creator in a struggle beyond description. Galactus eventually triumphed, possibly aided by the Spinsterhood order of women warriors, banishing Tyrant to parts unknown. Since then, Galactus has used many mindless servants, chief among which are the Punishers, possibly living beings enslaved or created by Galactus. Eventually, the world-devourer realized it was more efficient to send a herald to seek out worlds for him. His first herald was eventually cast out and imprisoned, presumably due to its corrupt and violent nature. This former herald, the Fallen One, escaped many times over the millennia, each time heading directly after its previous master, who always defeated it.
Rise of the Silver Surfer
Galactus threatened to devour the planet Zenn-La, but was persuaded by native Norrin Radd to spare it in exchange for becoming a new herald. Galactus transformed Radd into the Silver Surfer, suppressing his morals so that he would lead Galactus to inhabited worlds when necessary, such as the planet of the symbiotes and the Kree planet Tarsis. The Surfer once even led Galactus into ending the threat of the murderous warlord Kallreich the Unconquerable by consuming a world he had invaded. When the Silver Surfer brought Galactus to Earth, despite the efforts of Uatu The Watcher to hide the planet, Alicia Masters reached Norrin's long-submerged emotions, convincing him to turn against his master. Galactus had easily overpowered the Fantastic Four, but the Surfer's power delayed Galactus' meal long enough for Reed Richards to present him with his first defeat. Uatu sent the Human Torch to Galactus' worldship to retrieve the Ultimate Nullifier, a device allegedly having the power to destroy even mighty Galactus; Reed used it to force him to spare Earth, but Galactus punished the Surfer for his betrayal by trapping him on Earth.
Soon after, Galactus sensed abundant energy sources within the enigmatic Black Galaxy, but Galactus was distracted when Dr. Doom usurped the Silver Surfer's power and crashed into Galactus' barrier; sensing this disturbance, Galactus scanned Doom, but found him beneath his notice and sent him back to Latveria. Galactus soon sent his Punisher to retrieve the Surfer from Earth; the Fantastic Four held it off long enough for the Surfer to escape into the microverse. Galactus forced them to help him find the Surfer, who located an uninhabited planet for him, after which he left the Surfer trapped on Earth for easy future location.
New Heralds and Defeated Hunger
Consuming the world Taur to replenish his stores, Galactus journeyed into the Black Galaxy, where he encountered Ego The Living Planet. With the aid of Thor, recruited by the Colonizers of Rigel, Ego drove off Galactus; the surviving Archeopians made Ego their new home. Galactus was targeted by Dr. Doom, who used the reality-altering Cosmic Cube and other weapons to steal Galactus' power, but he retook the power with the aid of the Fantastic Four. Seeking a new herald, Galactus transformed Gabriel Lan, captain of the Xandarian starship Way-Opener, into the Air-Walker, but he was subsequently slain defending his master from the alien Ovoids. Galactus transferred Lan's life-spark into an Air-Walker robot and followed it to Earth, where it was destroyed by the Fantastic Four. Galactus then forced the Surfer to agree to follow him anywhere in the universe, but Reed Richards altered Galactus' ship controls, sending him into the Negative Zone, beyond the scope of the Surfer's promise.
More Betrayal, More Strife
Returning to the Earth dimension, Galactus empowered Lan's former first officer Pyreus Kril as his new herald, Firelord. He sent Kril to recruit Thor's aid against the now-maddened Ego, who had consumed the Archeopians. Thor freed Firelord from Galactus' servitude by offering the Asgardian Destroyer construct in his place. The Destroyer led Galactus to the High Evolutionary's Counter-Earth, and the Evolutionary summoned the Fantastic Four for aid. Though the heroes' efforts to find unpopulated worlds found only the robot-world Mekka and one of the Skrullian Kral worlds, the Impossible Man offered his own planet, Poppup, whose people suffered from terminal boredom. Consuming Poppup, Galactus faded from existence due to cosmic indigestion. During Galactus' absence, his ship was invaded by the god Loki, who stole the Destroyer, and also by the time-traveling Korvac, who absorbed immense power and plotted to conquer the universe. Upon re-forming, Galactus realized what had happened and turned the Ultimate Nullifier against Korvac, who feigned death to escape. Reed Richards then summoned Galactus to Earth to defeat the power of the Sphinx. In exchange, the Fantastic Four found a replacement herald; per Galactus' requirements, one not so concerned about innocent lives. From the planet Lanlak, the Four recruited its lord, Tyros, whom Galactus transformed into Terrax the Tamer.
Double Crossed and Near Death
However, Terrax proved disloyal; after locating a number of planets, Terrax tried to claim a new empire for himself. When Galactus tried to recall him, Terrax fled into a black hole. In response, Galactus' drone R-11 recruited the Dazzler, who recovered Terrax after Galactus briefly imbued her with power cosmic. Resuming his duties, Terrax led the planet-eater to Galador, where Galactus slew that world's Prime Director and the warrior Terminator before the Spaceknight ROM convinced Galactus to instead seek out Wraithworld, the home of Galador's Dire Wraith enemies. The magic of Wraithworld and its Dark Nebula proved too much for Galactus, but he nonetheless honored his agreement to spare Galador, though he transported it to a distant location unknown to the Spaceknights. Terrax next led Galactus back to Earth, hoping the Fantastic Four could again defeat him, but Galactus stripped Terrax of his power and cast him out. The Fantastic Four, Avengers, and Dr. Strange defeated the exhausted Galactus, but as the world devourer lay dying, Reed organized efforts to save him. Galactus nonetheless needed to feed, but instead accepted the Human Torch Frankie Raye's offer to become his new herald, transforming her into Nova.
A Great Feast
Nova initially led Galactus to populated worlds, including Kehil, the surviving natives of which she later found a new home. When Galactus' life force had ebbed so low that he was visited by Death itself, Nova led him to feed on Tarnax IV, the Skrull Throneworld, an act which threw the Skrull empire into chaos; a group of time-traveling X-Men narrowly escaped Tarnax IV in time. Shortly thereafter, Reed Richards was tried by an intergalactic group for his crime of saving Galactus, but was acquitted after Galactus himself appeared, and his ties to the life of the universe were revealed by Eternity; though the specific memory quickly faded from those present, the sense that Galactus had a specific purpose in the universe was retained.
Against All Odds
Soon after, Galactus was transported to the artificially created Battleworld by the Beyonder to serve in his "Secret Wars". Galactus instead attempted to devour Battleworld, but Dr. Doom briefly usurped his power once more. Shortly after revoking the Silver Surfer's exile on Earth, Galactus was assaulted by the Elders of the Universe, who sought to destroy him and the universe, and be reborn in the next universe as Galactus had been. The Surfer and Nova helped Galactus defeat their plots, which included battles with Ego and the cosmic In-Betweener, and a trip into a black hole, after which Galactus replenished himself on the populated world Naja-7. After assisting Power Pack in curing a maddened Nova, Galactus was drawn back to Earth by the power of the Phoenix Force, briefly battling its then-host, Rachel Summers, before acknowledging the Force as essential to the universe.
Drawn Into War
Galactus was again summoned to Earth to defeat a deadly threat, the Consortium, and was banished to the inter-dimensional world Quwrll. After his return, the Surfer warned Galactus of the mad Titan Thanos, made virtually omnipotent by the Infinity Gems. Galactus scoffed at this threat until Thanos mocked him by eliminating a planet upon which Galactus had intended to feed. Ironically enough, Galactus was also taunted by the Deviant-Inhuman hybrid Maelstrom, who had acquired vast power as well, though he was soon destroyed by a black hole of his own making. After consuming another planet, Galactus joined a number of cosmic entities in opposing Thanos and then the space-pirate Nebula (who took the gems from Thanos), but even mighty Galactus was of little weight against the Infinity Gems. Galactus joined the other cosmic beings in deciding that the hero Adam Warlock was not worthy to hold the collective Gems, as well as investigating the threat of the cosmically powered Edifice Rex, who sought to clean up the universe.
Shortly thereafter, Galactus, Nova, Dr. Strange, and the Surfer investigated the powerful energies harnessed by Warlock's dark counterpart, the Magus. In the process, he encountered the mystic entity Agamotto and the extra-dimensional exile, Khoon the Explorer. The Magus utilized five reality-altering Cosmic Containment Units, dwarfing Galactus' power; Galactus convinced the god-like Living Tribunal to allow the Infinity Gems to be used collectively again, playing directly into the hands of the Magus, who usurped the Gems and added them to his power. Galactus saved the lives of the heroes opposing the Magus, while Warlock facilitated the Magus' banishment to the realm within the Infinity Soul Gem.
Sympathy and Greed
Nova grew close to Galactus, even becoming privy to his emotions and private thoughts; but Galactus dismissed her when she resisted the idea of leading him to inhabited worlds. Galactus then empowered the blood-thirsty Morg as his new herald, but Morg's lust for power led past heralds to war against him. Nova apparently died at Morg's hands, and after the other heralds slew Morg, Galactus accepted both the Firelord and the restored Air-Walker android as heralds while he secretly resurrected Morg, this time keeping him more manageable; however, Morg was soon abducted by Galactus' old rival, Tyrant, who sought to challenge his creator again. Unwilling to risk battle with Tyrant at the time, Galactus reluctantly allowed Tyrant to retain Morg in exchange for a temporary truce. Morg later escaped and returned to Galactus, and only the Surfer saved the other two heralds from his wrath. When Tyrant confronted Galactus and managed to overpower him, Morg discharged the Ultimate Nullifier in an effort to stop Tyrant, but also apparently destroyed himself and Galactus.
Galactus survived by escaping extra-dimensionally and was later summoned by Reed to oppose the power of Hyperstorm; the two beings were drawn back to the dimensional void. Later, Galactus sent the Surfer after a power object, which proved to be an ancient demon. Galactus testified before Roma on the Fantastic Four's ability to safely watch over Franklin Richards, after which he consumed one of the Collector's specimen worlds, which had been unwittingly exposed to him by Wolverine. Galactus next located an extra-dimensional gladiator whom he had been tracking for decades, transforming him into his herald, until he was liberated by the Fantastic Four.
Consumed by Hunger
Galactus' hunger grew greater than ever, driving him mad with desire to consume sentient life. Recruiting a new herald, Red Shift, Galactus devoured world after world, including Verdant, until a union of Earth's heroes and the armies of several races, including the Kree and Shi'ar, mounted an offensive against him. Ultimately the Surfer turned Galactus' own ship against him, and it consumed his form, dispersing him into inert energy. One of Galactus' old enemies, Abraxas, now left without anyone to hold him in check, threatened to destroy a number of realities, including Earth-616 (mainstream Earth). Franklin Richards and Marvel Girl (the future Valeria Richards) combined their reality-altering powers to re-form Galactus, who then directed the Ultimate Nullifier's destruction of Abraxas, restoring the universes.
After again opposing Thanos (then powered by the Heart of the Infinite), Galactus fell prey to a near-fatal deception. The extra-dimensional Hunger, who consumed universes as Galactus consumed worlds, duped the planet-eater into believing that he could use the Infinity Gems to forever end his appetite; however, the device he constructed instead formed a portal that allowed Hunger entry into his universe. This time it was Thanos who saved all of existence, seemingly destroying Hunger. As a weakened Galactus recovered, the Fallen One again escaped and pursued him, but was defeated by Thanos and the diminutive powerhouse Skreet. During the event known as the Annihilation, the world devourer was sought out by the remaining Proemial Gods, Aegis and Tenebrous for his atrocities against there brethren. Still in a weakened state from his encounters with Hunger, Thanos and the Fallen One, Galactus along with the Silver Surfer, was easily defeated by the Proemial Gods and handed over to Annihilus. While holding Galactus in captivity, Annihilus persuaded Thanos to find a way to harness his mighty “power cosmic” to use the world devourer as a cosmic cannon. Galactus would eventually freed by the actions of Drax the Destroyer. Soon after, Galactus was assaulted by yet another extra-dimensional powerhouse who sought the origins of the universe, but he recovered via the actions of the Avengers and a league of heroes from another reality.
The Survivors Rebel, The Torch Transformed
A group of survivors of Galactus' predations discovered a means to shield worlds from him, but learned that a power on Earth could overcome this technology. Zius led the survivors to Earth to prevent Galactus from obtaining this power: the Invisible Woman. Reed Richards switched the powers of the Invisible Woman with the Human Torch, deceiving Zius into believing he had neutralized her power; however, Galactus arrived almost immediately afterwards and claimed Johnny as his new herald, amplifying his powers via the power cosmic. While pretending to fulfill his mission, Johnny sought to rally other worlds against Galactus, ultimately delaying him until the Fantastic Four and Quasar could arrive to help. Johnny's new powers allowed him to analyze Galactus' nature, and he instructed Reed and Quasar to form a device that temporarily transformed Galactus back to the powerless Galan. Brought to Manhattan while Reed raced to find an alternate energy source for him, Galan was impressed with humanity's indomitable will and constant struggle against hardship, and he chose to exile himself extra-dimensionally rather than risk destroying it all when his power returned.
Back to Basics
Apparently reverting to his old ways upon regaining his power, Galactus returned and recruited a new herald, Stardust, who worshipped his master and believed others should submit to him. Galactus then consumed the second home of the Korbinite race, though the people's life forces were preserved in a Meta-Orb. When their protector, Beta Ray Bill, fought Stardust, the herald unwittingly opened a dimensional warp that unleashed the monstrous Astoreth, who threatened to consume the entire universe. While Bill joined forces with Stardust against her, Galactus empowered Bill's predecessor, Alpha Ray Bill, who sacrificed himself and Stardust in the process of driving Astoreth into a black hole.
Beyond good and evil, forced to destroy entire worlds to survive, Galactus is intimately tied to the nature of the universe. He believes it is his destiny to ultimately give back to the universe much more than he has taken. He currently has two heralds, Silver Surfer, and Stardust.
*Note: The Surfer once believed the enigmatic cosmic Other had consumed Zenn-La shortly after his departure and that Zenn-La's existence was a mere illusion maintained by Galactus. However, numerous interactions of Shalla-Bal and other Zenn-Lavians with the people of Earth and other races would seem to refute this. The truth remains uncertain.
*Note: Although Galactus is usually represented in humanoid form, each sentient being perceives him having a form resembling that of his own race; humans see him as humanoid and Skrulls as Skrullian.