DC Made Superman Herald of Galactus:
DC and Marvel Comics are the greatest of rivals. Both have their iconic superheroes and their own reputation to protect. Throughout their history, Marvel and DC have had several cold wars, DC and Marvel fans also have daggers drawn at each other in every discussion and debate regarding which is better – Marvel or DC. But sometimes, unlike the fans Marvel Comics and DC Comics actually have the guts to let of this petty rivalry and work together. And when the two greatest superhero comic book giants join forces, sometimes the events are truly spectacular. Strange yes, but also amazing and incredible! One such event was when Marvel and DC agreed to make a crossover comic book arc together that gave Superman the Power Cosmic.
It was the 1990’s. Both DC Comics and Marvel Comics were struggling to keep up their sales figures in the face of an economic crisis. Comic book sales had drastically gone down and wiped out several other publication houses that had already gone out of business. Marvel and DC were probably the last two stalwarts of the superhero comic book genre standing. To ensure they survive the coming downfall which was inevitable, they had to ensure that they had enough cash reserves to keep their engines running. That is a task easier said than done. Both comic book giants found a way though. They theorized that the best way to move forward was not to compete with each other but to join forces, piggy-backing on each other’s properties and resources to ride the wave.
Marvel and DC joined hands to pen and publish several other comic book crossovers, some of which ended up becoming best-sellers and are still remembered to be legendary classics even now. Marvel and DC also experimented with new conceptual storylines that were radically different than the light-toned, family-friendly entertainment they were known for back then in the 1970s and 1980s. The issue where Superman becomes the new Herald of Galactus is basically a combination of a wild conceptual premise along with a DC/Marvel Crossover of epic proportions. This crossover is something that will go down in history as one of the most peculiarly entertaining issues of all time!!
Right now, imagining a DC/Marvel Crossover is downright impossible, to begin with. The movie universes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe will probably intersect when QuickSilver manages top to beat the Flash in a race (which, let’s face it will never happen). The comic books also follow a similar pattern. It is not possible for the Justice League or its members to ever join hands with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes aka the Avengers and vanquish a common foe. But a few decades ago, that was a different story altogether. Marvel and DC Comics did not just cross over, they ended up using each other’s characters to further each other’s mainstream continuity!
In the year of 1999, DC and Marvel Comics did something completely out of the blue. They announced an issue where they will have a crossover arc between Superman, DC Comics’ Man of Steel, and the Fantastic Four, colloquially known as Marvel’s First Family. Art Thibert and Dan Jurgens were tasked with illustrating and writing this Deluxe Size issue. In this storyline, Superman is granted the gift of the Power Cosmic by Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, and the Cosmic Man of Steel then fights the Fantastic Four.
The issue begins with a preview sequence. The flashback shows the destruction of the planet of Krypton, Superman’s Home Planet. But this time it is seen from the point of view of Galactus. After witnessing the destruction of the planet, Galactus creates a small capsule and sends it on its way to Earth. On the way, the capsule is captured by an unknown figure that seemingly alters the contents in it. Superman is ultimately revealed to be the recipient of the Capsule. He receives it after fighting a group of terrorists and defusing a nuclear bomb. The Capsule turns out to contain a coded message from his father. After decryption, it reveals something vitally important with regard to Krypton’s destruction. Superman’s father states that Krypton never imploded on its own. It was consumed by Galactus.
Superman, always the Boy Scout, decides to travel to a parallel Earth where he could deliver the message of the coming of Galactus to the Fantastic Four. The Capsule contained information on the Devourer of Worlds’ whereabouts and it pointed straight to the Marvel Mainstream Universe, with Galactus on his way to devour yet another planet full of innocent lives. Just before he could deliver the crystal to the Fantastic Four, Cyborg Superman aka Hank Henshaw emerges out of the crystal. Hank Henshaw is one of Superman’s greatest enemies and a very powerful foe. Superman wastes no time in trying to neutralize the new threat.
But the crystal contains something else. A mysterious orb is seen emerging out of the crystal. This orb takes over Superman’s body that is pretty much powerless against it. While trying to stop Cyborg Superman from joining hands with Galactus, Superman him-self ends up succumbing to Galactus’ will and becomes his new Herald. As his new Herald, Superman is tasked with finding new planets for his master to devour and annihilate.
Realizing Superman is now a threat to the entire universe, Cyborg Superman ditches his original plan and teams up with the Fantastic Four. While working together, several similarities between Hank Henshaw’s and Reed Richards’ past come to light. Dan Jurgens, who created Cyborg Superman, took inspiration from Reed Richards. Cyborg Superman is basically what Reed Richards would be if his life encountered a dark twist of fate! Hank Henshaw’s character premise has also somewhat been a gritty antonym of Reed Richards aka Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four.
Like Henshaw, Reed Richards too went to space. Both were bombarded with intense cosmic radiation that mutated them. The Fantastic Four were lucky to not only survive the accident but also develop superpowers in the process. Henshaw and his crew were not that lucky. Everyone except Henshaw died in the accident. Henshaw him-self suffered severe injuries and had to replace most of his body with cybernetic parts. He later went insane from the trauma, became a supervillain, and destroyed Coast City.
In deep space, Superman has marked a planet for Galactus to consume and satiate his infinite hunger. Before his master could do that though, Superman is reminded of his memories of Krypton’s destruction. His planet’s death jerks the guy’s brain to its senses and Superman snaps out of Galactus’ mind control. Superman tries to use the Power Cosmic to defeat Galactus but Galactus takes it away in the nick of time. Now free from Galactus’ Clutches, Superman makes it his mission to team up with the Fantastic Four and stop Galactus from taking any more innocent lives. To do that, they manage to capture Galactus’ elemental converter and reverse its polarity. The Elemental Converter device was how Galactus siphons energy off of a planet. Now that the polarity is reversed, it now sends energy from Galactus’ body rather than taking it in.
Galactus is stopped in his tracks. The Fantastic Four and Superman defeat Galactus. The Devourer of Worlds soon realizes that it was Cyborg Superman who had contaminated the message and altered it within the capsule. The shadowy figure at the beginning of the arc turns out to be Hank Henshaw. Galactus soon focuses all his energies on Cyborg Superman and destroys him as an act of revenge.
Before Superman leaves for his universe, he enjoys some leisure time with Reed Richards and Sue Storm’s son – Franklin Richards. Turns out, Superman exists in the DC Universe. But he is an animate character. Superman the Animated Series is Franklin Richards’ favorite show of all time. Franklin is finally happy to see his idol for real. Before leaving, Superman gives Franklin his cape and takes off into the event horizon.