- How else can I plead but ... guilty!
Appearing in "The Trial of Reed Richards"
- Fantastic Four
- John Byrne / "The Chronicler"
- Uatu the Watcher
- Shi'ar Empire
- Skrull Empire
- Survivors' Fleet
- All-Father Odin
- Heralds of Galactus (Main story and recap)
- Nova (Frankie Raye) (Main story and recap)
- Galactus (Galen) (Main story and flashback)
- Marvel Comics
- Fantastic Four Incorporated
- Andrea Braun Byrne
- Empress R'Klll (Mentioned)
- Princess Anelle (Mentioned)
- Albert Einstein (Mentioned)
- God (Yahweh) (Mentioned)
- Thor Odinson (Mentioned)
- Sentience of the Universe (Voice) (Only in flashback)
- Ecce the Watcher (Only in flashback)
- Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange) (Referenced)
Races and Species:
- Humans (Main story and recap)
- Shi'ar (Main story and recap)
- M'Ndavians (First appearance)
- Human-Inhuman Hybrids
- Cosmic Beings (Main story and recap)
- Taa-ans (Only in flashback)
- Abstract Entities
- Earth-616 (Main story and flashback) (Destruction as the Sixth Infinity and rebirth as the Seventh Cosmos in flashback)
- Earth (Main story and recap)
- Galactic Tribunal
- Negative Zone (Mentioned)
- Skrull Empire (Mentioned)
- Asgard (Mentioned)
- Taa (Only in flashback)
- Taa-an Though-Spheres (Only in flashback)
- Last ship of Taa / Galactus' Incubator (Only in flashback)
Synopsis for "The Trial of Reed Richards"
At the offices of Marvel Comics, editor Mike Higgins is pleading to get his writer/artist John Byrne to pump out another Fantastic Four comic before the printing deadline. Despite the desperate need, John informs Mike that he hasn't heard from the Fantastic Four in a while, but wants another 24 hours to try and get a hold of the group to learn of their current adventures before giving up and writing a made up story. John then calls the Baxter Building, but his call is answered by the FF's robotic receptionist Roberta, who informs John that the Fantastic Four are still away. As John hangs up the phone he is suddenly visited by the Watcher, who quickly teleports John away before his wife gets home. As they speed through the cosmos, the Watcher tells John that the coming events are of such cosmic significance that a chronicler will be needed to record the events later. Suddenly they appear in the middle of the Galactic Tribunal's trial for the live of Reed Richards. John is taken to Sue, Ben and Johnny who tell him that Reed is being put on trial for sparing the life of Galactus. Sue goes on to point out that the head of the trial is Empress Lilandra, the leader of the Shi'ar. She mentions how Lilandra appeared before them one night and warned Reed that he would be put to task if Galactus consumed another inhabited world after he spared the life of the eater of worlds.
When Lilandra calls the trial to begin, the Thing wonders how a jury will be able to reach a decision. One of the aliens calls Ben's attention to the strange glowing globes above the court. The alien explains that they measure the spectators collective feelings about the trial and that should they all turn white, it is a sign that those gathered to watch have found Reed guilty. First to the stand is the Skrull survivor Karant Kair who explains how Galactus came to the homeworld of the Skrulls and consumed it, wiping out billions of his people as a result of Reed sparing the life of Galactus. Thinking to himself, Reed is consumed with guilt over the loss of life thanks to his decision, but still believes that allowing Galactus to die was not right. Lilandra then calls upon witness after witness to testify about the atrocities Galactus has committed on world upon world. As the trial drags on, the Watcher tells the Human Torch that he has a task he wishes the youth to under take, and Johnny agrees to do it and is promptly teleported away. When John and the rest of the Fantastic Four express their concern, the Watcher explains that he is gathering up a defense for Reed.
With the witness testimony given, the Watcher tries to tell those gathered that Galactus serves a greater purpose in the universe. With that said, he has Reed Richards defend himself first. Reed shocks all gathered by saying that he is guilty of sparing the life of Galactus. When given a chance to clarify what he means, Reed says he is guilty of sparing the life of Galactus, the point of the trial is to determine if doing so was a crime. He goes on to explain his first encounter with Galactus and how he learned that the cosmic being was beyond good and evil and only consumed worlds to prolong his own existence. He goes on to explain that Galactus exists as a higher order in the greater good of the universe, carrying out some king of task beyond the ken of mere mortals.
With Reed's testimony, Johnny returns with the first witness: Odin, the All-Father of Asgard. Odin is called to recount what he knows about the origins of Galactus. Odin recounts how Galactus was once merely a man named Galen who lived on the planet Taa, a world that existed in the universe prior to this one. When Taa was in the throws of a deadly plague, Galan and the last survivors of his world flew into the heart of Taa's nearby sun where they hoped to die in a blaze of glory. However the universe collapsed... When the Big Bang occurred and the new universe was created, a lone ship also emerged from the beginning. Some time later it was discovered by one of the Watchers who witnessed as Galan emerged from the vessel transformed into Galactus. Odin goes on to explain that the purpose of Galactus is to test the lives of inhabited worlds to see if they are worthy to continue existing in the universe. Although the Fantastic Four and John Byrne are glad to hear this testimony, they are disappointed when they see that it has not swayed the audience and they are quickly coming to find Reed guilty.
Before more of the globes can turn white, they are blasted out of the sky by Nova, the herald announcing the arrival of Galactus. As Galactus towers over everyone, Xxan Xxar tries to make an attempt to kill Galactus himself. However he quickly loses his nerve and cowardly slinks away. Galactus has come to speak on the behalf of Reed Richards, a man he has come to consider a friend and is indebted to for saving his life. Galactus explains that he is part of a grander scheme in the universe. In order to prove this point, Galactus and Uatu channel their powers together to summon Eternity, the embodiment of all existence. Eternity reiterates what everyone has said and then reveals the very secrets of Galactus to all gathered. The truth, the details of which becomes fleeting and quickly forgotten, convince all gathered that Reed is innocence of any wrong doing and he and the Fantastic Four are allowed to go free. Three hours later, John Byrne finds himself back at his home explaining everything to Mike who finds the story too far out but tells John to get it done as quickly as possible. The Watcher still in his presence, John asks what will happen to Galactus now. Uatu surmises that the world devourer will continue testing worlds until one develops enough power to destroy him. On that day, the Watcher explains, the universe will weep.
- As first established back in Fantastic Four #10 in the Earth-616 universe, Marvel Comics has been licensed to adapt the stories of the Fantastic Four into comic books.
- Typically, significant real life people appearing in modern age stories are usually considered topical references per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. The exception to this rule is when it comes to creators at Marvel Comics whose appearances are considered canonical instead of topical. THe appearance of Mike Higgins and John Byrne in this story should be considered as such. In the Earth-616 universe all Marvel creators appear as though they are in the prime of their lives during their appearances in the modern age.
- John Byrne was last seen in Thing #7 When he had to answer to Ben's complaints about a story he wrote for Ben's solo comic book.
- Roberta appears here following her appearance in Thing #4 she next appears in Uncanny X-Men #178 when she is shorted out by Kitty Pryde who breaks into the Baxter Building to obtain on of Reed's inventions.
- Sue, Ben and Johnny bring John Byrne up to date on what is going on. They reference:
- The fact that Reed saved the life of Galactus in Fantastic Four #244
- That Lilandra of the Shi'ar threatened to punish Reed if Galactus consumed another world, that happened in Uncanny X-Men #167.
- Sue mentions this was before the Fantastic Four's trip into the Negative Zone, which took place in Fantastic Four #251-256.
- Karant Kiar explains in detail of Galactus consumed the Skrull homeworld, this was depicted in Fantastic Four #257.
- This is not the first time Uatu sent Johnny off on a quest. He trusted the youthful member of the Fantastic Four to recover the Ultimate Nullifier to stop Galactus when he first threatened the Earth in the modern age, as seen in Fantastic Four #48-50.
- Reed's reference of Galactus being neither good nor evil are the exact statements Galactus first made to the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #49.
- Odin's recounting of the origin of Galactus is a recap of events revealed in Thor #168-169. The Watcher depicted as observing the birth of Galactus is Ecce. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #12 names him and identifies Ecce as an ancestor of Uatu the Watcher of Earth.
- Galactus and Nova appear here following their last appearance in Fantastic Four #257 when Galactus consumed the Skrull homeworld.
- Eternity makes his appearance here between Defenders #92 When the Defenders helped reclaim lost fragments of Eternity. He next appears in Secret Wars II #6 where he joins other cosmic beings to decide what to do about the Beyonder.
- Following this story members of the Fantastic Four are next seen in:
- Reed next appears in Marvel Team-Up #132-133 where he and Spider-Man are pawns of Doctor Faustus.
- Sue and Johnny next appear in Moon Knight #35 where they attend a theater performance with the rest of the Fantastic Four that is interrupted by Bora.
- Ben appears in Marvel Fanfare #24 where he has another one of his super-hero poker games.
- Other characters in this story make their appearances elsewhere as well:
- John Bryne next makes a cameo appearance in Alpha Flight #105
- Lilandra next appears in Uncanny X-Men #171, where she returns to assisting her lover Professor X with his physiotherapy.
- Gladiator appears in Rom Annual #4, where he battles Rom the Spaceknight.
- Galactus in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 where he is one of the villains gathered by the Beyonder.
- Nova next appears in Silver Surfer Vol 3 #1, where she is rescued by the Silver Surfer after being captured by the Skrulls.
- Odin makes a cameo next in Marvel Fanfare #13
- and the Watcher in Amazing Spider-Man #246
- This story was published during Marvel's annual Assistant Editors month. A month where the Assistant Editors take over full editorial control while the Editors are off at various comic book conventions (typically the San Diego Comiccon). The month is usually celebrated with jokes either in story on on the cover. This story has the most tame, having only a written blerb in the Marvel logo box.
- This issue contains a letters page Fantastic Four Fan Page. Letters are published from Jesse Tonyaley, Charles B. Crockett, Jr., Fred Bynum, Jay Tuttle, Paul Oliveri, Stephen Gawronski, and Kyle Tokehim.
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