I’d like to say that my fascination with the concept of a being mighty enough to devour an entire world began with a fortunate, early introduction to issues #48-50 of Lee & Kirby’s initial, mind-blowing run on Marvel Comics “Fantastic Four.” Or, that I had this really cool Uncle that dropped John Byrne’s “Trial of Galactus” issues of FF in my lap to shut me up one rainy Saturday morning inducing paroxysms of adolescent glee. (I’ve heard of so many cases of uber-cool Uncles off-loading collapsing long-boxes of life-altering comics to their young nephews as they headed out the door to college that this type of story has become just another of the “Rite of Passage” myths I’ve studied from other cultures. One generation passing down funny books like a Judaic mantel as they crossed the threshold into the world of milk and honey.) But, that wasn’t the case for me. No early FF exposure. No cool Uncles. Indeed, I was not fated to meet the mighty Galactus and his ever-expanding roster of heralds until, ironically enough, I entered my own college days. For me, long before there was a Galactus eating up worlds to fuel the Power Cosmic there was…
To many a cineaste, the name Unicron is but a sad footnote on the IMDB filmography of Orson Welles.; his final film roll as a voice actor in “The Transformers” animated feature film along side such luminaries as Judd Nelson and Casey Kasem. No wine before it’s time? Perhaps not.
But, to me, Unicron was the end all, be all of movie villains. By that point I had seen many of the greats of film villainy – Karloff, Legosi, Jason, Freddy, Rawhead Rex. But, none of their collective horrors could compare to the galaxy-spanning terror of a sentient machine capable of swallowing up all that I knew with one, efficient bite. Oh, Lord, a planet eater. Oh, heavens, a devourer of worlds!
Perhaps such a threat seemed more real to me as I was growing up in the 80’s under the penumbra of “mutual assured destruction.” Films like “War Games,” “Red Dawn,” “The Day After,” and “Def-Con 4” (heck, even “Spies Like Us” and “Rocky IV”) had me ever aware of the death that would soon be brought down upon us from the skies – a fiery Armageddon that would strip my bones and the bones of my family clean. Half-baked pop psychology aside, Unicron had me shaking in my hand-me-down parachute pants and peeing in my Mad Balls pajamas; an impossible threat, to be sure, but one that cut right to my fear center.
Interestingly, as I cast about Al Gore’s Greatest Invention I am hard-pressed to find many other entities in science fiction that fit the “planet eater” description. There are plenty of world-destroyers, to be sure. But, beings that consume whole worlds for their life-giving energy are few and far between. Closest I could find was Rosie O’Donnell and she’s really only consumed a fleet of Hostess products and the souls of most middle-aged American women who made up the View’s core demographic from Sept ’06 to April of last year. However, she’s hardly reached Unicron status. Yet.
For now, I’m happy to report that there aren’t any other pretenders to the throne and that there are still only two players in the outer reaches of space that are dining on that scale. Given the vastness of the universe and our relative insignificance in it, I feel like things are pretty safe here on this little mud-ball, Earth. Because really, once you’ve stared down the dual threat of Russian nukes pointed at our shores and cosmic entities opening their mouths wide for our world, it’s really hard to take something as measly sounding as “global warming” seriously.
Now, if they called it “Warmacron” or “Globactus,” then I’d be worried.
TODAY’S POTENT QUOTABLES:
“Yes friends, act now, destroy Unicron. Kill the Grand Poobah. Eliminate even the toughest stain.”
–Wreck-Gar, “Transformers: The Movie”
“The game is ended! The prize has eluded me! And at last I perceive the glint of glory with the race of man! Be every worthy of that glory, humans…be ever mindful of your promise of greatness! For it shall one day lift you beyond the stars…or bury you within the ruins of war!! The choice is yours!!”
—Galactus, “Fantastic Four, Issue #50”
— Friedrich Nietzsche, “Beyond Good and Evil”
FUN LINK: Watch a tribute to the mighty Unicron here…