Really, that Ghost Rider appearance was totally out of left field.

§ September 30th, 2008 § Filed under cartoons, galactus Comments Off on Really, that Ghost Rider appearance was totally out of left field.

So, the other day I was watching an episode of the mid-1990s Fantastic Four cartoon, which adapted the 1982 Terrax/Galactus storyline from FF #s 242 through 244. Here’s the cover of the middle installment, just so this post isn’t all boring text:

Anyway, the episode takes this three-issue storyline, including the introduction of Frankie Raye and the “she’s got powers like the Human Torch” storyline from the previous year’s continuity, and manages to squeeze it all into a 20-something minute episode.

Most of the storyline’s plot points from the original comics make it into the show, with some adjustments here and there. The most noticeable change is that, instead of the guest-starring-superhero free-for-all like you see on that cover up there, the only guy that shows up in the cartoon is Thor. And taking the place of Dr. Strange is Ghost Rider, who in the cartoon puts the mystical showing-Galactus-the-souls-of-his-victims whammy on the big G that Strange did in the comic. Apparently this was Ghost Rider’s first appearance in the cartoons, judging by the reaction of the other characters. He just pops up, says “hello,” gives Galactus the ol’ magical hairy eyeball…er, eyesocket, and takes off, confusing children watching at home everywhere.

But the story plays out more or less the same in the cartoon as in the comic…Galactus’ reserves are depleted and he’s on the verge of dying, Reed Richards decides to save his life, Frankie volunteers to become the new Herald of Galactus and lead him to a new world to consume, and Galactus takes off, vowing to never trouble Earth again and notes that this is the one world where he may have friends. The end.

There’s another change I should note, concerning Frankie’s characterization. In the comic, she had a habit of using excessive force on the bad guys, giving as her reasoning, “well, they’re bad guys, right? So what?” When she decides to sacrifice herself to become a Herald, it’s pointed out that she’d likely have to lead Galactus to inhabited worlds for him to consume. Her response:

“So? A few bug-eyed monsters? What’s that compared to my being able to go…out there?”

An amoral stance for a superhero-type, to be sure, and it’s not surprising that it didn’t make it into the cartoon. In its place we get some very broad hinting that Frankie may be, if not outright falling in love with Galactus (a plot development that turns up in later FF issues), at least completely admiringly awestruck by him.

Not quite sure why I’m so fascinated by these comic-to-cartoon translations of specific storylines I enjoyed as a younger Mikester. Particularly since the end result, after having watched this episode, is the realization that as profound and significant it all seemed on the printed page, seeing essentially the same story in animated form made it all feel a bit…silly, I guess. Perhaps it’s just the nature of the bare-bones condensing of the original tale, or perhaps it’s just the recontextualizing of the story from the familiar printed format to an animated one, forcing us to reconsider the storytelling tropes freed of nostalgic memories (see also: the ’60s Batman TV show, discussed previously).

Or perhaps I’m just overthinking a cartoon whose primary purpose was to sell toys to children.

But, honestly, that Terrax/Galactus story from Fantastic Four #s 242 through 244 is really good. And maybe a little silly, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

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