Galactus is "Lifebringer" no more after this week's Infinity Countdown #4, returning to his classic status quo as the Devourer of Worlds. What's more, an old face is back to being his Herald, paying the price for forcing Galactus to become a destroyer once again.
The last few years have seen a major change in Galactus's status quo. The Ultimate were able to finally end the threat of Galactus, transforming him into the Lifebringer, a being who restores worlds as a penance for the millennia in which he has consumed them. Galactus actually became a member of the Ultimates, battling to save the universe itself. It's been refreshing to see the one-time Devourer of Worlds developed as a character in a very different way.
But Infinity Countdown #4 brings an end to that.
The issue opens with the Silver Surfer himself petitioning Galactus to devour a world once again. The world in question is the center of Ultron's power, and if it is not destroyed, then the whole galaxy will fall prey to the insane being. Recognizing the scale of the threat, the Silver Surfer begs Galactus to intervene once more. When he does so, though, the act undoes everything the Ultimate achieved; Galactus is no longer the Lifebringer. As penance for his actions, the Silver Surfer returns to his old role as Galactus's herald.
This is hardly an easy choice for Galactus. If he stands by, Ultron takes the galaxy, and all creation suffers. If he acts, then he is corrupted once again, and entire worlds will be consumed in the return of his hunger. Galactus weighs up the odds, and ultimately chooses to act, no matter the cost to himself. It's a tragic end to the story of Galactus the Lifebringer.
What's more, it's certainly ironic that the Silver Surfer is the one who plays the tempter. One of Marvel's most noble heroes, the Surfer has always regretted his time as Galactus's Herald, but now he's the one responsible for turning Galactus into the Devourer of Worlds once again. Given the tortuous irony of the situation, it's understandable that Galactus believes the Surfer too needs to pay the price for what he's done. And so Infinity Countdown #4 closes with the old status quo restored: Galactus is Devourer of Worlds, and the Silver Surfer is his Herald, responsible for guiding him to planets that he can consume.
Infinity Countdown is setup for Marvel's next major event, Infinity Wars, but already the consequences of this story are cosmic in scale. An ancient threat, neutralized by the Ultimates, has been turned loose upon the universe once again.
Infinity Countdown #4 is available now from Marvel Comics.