From aboard his Worldship in a vastly distant Galaxy, the Great Galactus had watched with interest recent developments on the Earth and Asgard

Superman – a herald of Galactus!

Deep Space

Some time in the future

From aboard his Worldship in a vastly distant Galaxy, the great Galactus had watched with interest developments on the Earth and especially in New Asgard.

Over time he saw Lord Thor, growing in confidence and power, exercise a seemingly benevolent dominion over the Earth. Galactus saw also the decrease in the Earth's super-powered heroes and villains as older generations of them died off largely unreplaced. Not that these "insects" would ever trouble the world devourer but he noted how few entities were now left on Earth with any kind of special powers. Galactus had known of the "death" of Odin soon after it's occurrence. Ever since that fateful day long ago when he had passed too close to Asgard, Galactus had decided to never again test the mettle or resolve of the Allfather. The still youthful and inexperienced son, a mere godling, was however another matter.

"If ever I am to claim the Earth, then it is now!" thought Galactus. "If I leave it for too long Lord Thor will become too powerful." "Even now he has begun to understand the Odinpower at a fundamental level and to progressively draw on his elder god inheritance – the vast powers of his mother Gaea." "A most potent combination" mused Galactus.

Though human concepts such as revenge are far below Galactus, still buried deep within him was the desire to finally devour the world which had given him so much trouble over so many years. It was not that he needed it as a source of sustenance, there were many suitable worlds, but consumption of the Earth had become symbolic for him. A matter of pride, if such a term could ever be applied to one such as he.

Watching from his Worldship Galactus took stock of the forces that Lord Thor might draw upon , the Destroyer Construct (once briefly one of his own heralds), Loki (possibly), Karnilla (possibly), Prince Magni and for that matter the bulk of the energies of the Asgardian dimension. It was Magni that concerned Galactus the most for in truth he was somewhat of an unknown quantity. Galactus saw that Magni had inherited not only the great strength of his father but the mystical ways of his mother the Enchantress. More importantly he had inherited elements of the powers of his most powerful grandparents Odin and Gaea. Finally Galactus saw that the youth was now the proud and worthy bearer of one of the greatest weapons in all of creation Mjolnor the former hammer of Thor.

"I shall need a Herald" thought Galactus "not for direction but as a source of distraction for both father and son." Galactus had in fact been heraldless for quite some time and he searched among the heavens for one suitable for the task. In that searching he came across the Kryptonian from an alternate Universe. A dangerously powerful herald but one who could serve him well, provided he were properly controlled. Though that very act of control might limit the Kryptonian's own initiative and resourcefulness

In his mind Galactus reviewed the powers of this -- Superman. Vast speed, near invulnerability, a powerful heat vision, vast physical strength, vastly acute sight and hearing, superbreath, super intelligence, great tactical capabilities and much more.

Galactus reviewed these capabilities against those known of Lord Thor and of Magni and he saw they might not be enough. Unaided Superman might not be able to stand against Magni and his hammer, and certainly not against the Lord of All Asgard. But with the Kryptonian's own powers augmented by the power cosmic that would be a different matter entirely. The world destroyer then wrenched Superman from that alternate reality and bestowed upon him the power cosmic to a greater degree than he had for any previous heralds (even the Silver Surfer). For service to Galactus Superman was promised safe return to his own reality. However knowing the man of steel would never accept such an offer Galactus implanted a subtle telepathic suggestion in Superman's mind, making the offer seem more palatable.

The Lord of Asgard and Earth had long since detected the approach of Galactus Worldship. Magni asked Thor if he might choose to inhabit the Destroyer Armor against such an awesomely powerful opponent. Thor, somewhat enigmatically, declined the invitation. The thought never even occurred to Magni to use the armor himself. Though youthful and inexperienced Magni had a confidence in his own natural strength, in his hammer and in the other powers he inherited which was not entirely without justification. Nonetheless he had heard the stories of the great Galactus and like most Asgardians was somewhat in awe of him.

So it came to pass that enhanced by the power cosmic the new herald of Galactus the Superman from an alternate reality confronted Magni prince of Asgard and Earth, the true son of Thor - blood of the blood itself - and the strongest of all the gods of Asgard.

The power cosmic enhanced Superman struck the first blow - a combination of his searing heat vision and deadly cosmic energies. For all his durability Prince Magni felt pain but no lasting damage. He whirled his hammer to deflect both the heat vision and cosmic energy then changed tactics, absorbing the energies within his hammer and throwing them back multiplied many fold against Superman.

The Kryptonian also showed great durability, shrugging off the magnified energies and changing tactics he physically attacked Magni at enormous speed raining super powered blows upon the Thor Son at the rate of hundreds or blows per second.

Both Galactus and Lord Thor remained distant from the struggle as if somehow content to do battle by proxy. The former observing it from his approaching but still distant Worldship and the latter present only in the form of a large audio-visual image. Galactus fully expecting Thor himself to become embroiled. In viewing the image of Thor Galactus did note that the new Allfather had strapped across his back a weapon from antiquity – the rarely seen and even more rarely used OdinAxe. A weapon spoken of only in whispers among the great powers.

No one truly knows what happened that fateful day millennia ago when Galactus and Odin clashed, save the Allfather and the World Devourer themselves. Now Odin is dead, so they say, and Galactus keeps his own counsel. As his Worldship moved closer to the Magni/Superman clash Galactus mind turned briefly to his first and only encounter with Odin. Rumour has it that Galactus is the only entity to have felt the power of the OdinAxe and lived. Another rumour has it that Odin was forced to use the OdinAxe on that day lest all Asgard perish. While rumours of that confrontation are in abundance, facts are impossible to come by. Suffice it to say that Odin and Asgard survived that encounter as did the great Galactus.

Galactus turned his attention to the present. He saw that while Magni could not match Superman's physical speed he was able to twirl his hammer at such a speed and force that it connected with superman and sent him careening end over end for many kilometres through space. The blow also appeared to hurt superman sufficiently to slow him down somewhat. Magni then responded with a bolt of Asgardian anti-force but superman shrugged this off.

The two combatants moved in together gripping each others forearms and for a moment the battle became a test of purest strength. As limbs locked together as muscles bulged and strained they did seem to be of roughly equal strength. Both strove mightily to assert their dominance in purely physical terms. Neither appeared to be holding back in any way. Whether it was from impatience or a sense that their natural strength was not quite enough first one of them then the other sought to augment their strength. Superman through the power cosmic and Magni through mystical means. As they continued their test of strength now at augmented levels the outcome remained inconclusive.

Superman was the first to break free from the impasse resorting to his great speed in combination with his strength rather than strength alone.

Magni then hurled his hammer coruscating with bludgeoning Asgardian energies. He threw it so hard and so fast and with such unerring accuracy that even Superman , momentarilly wearied by the physical test of strength, did not move quickly enough to avoid it. The Kryptonian reeled from the full force of mjolnor thrown with every ounce of the still augmented strength of Magni. Magni moved in hitting Superman time and again with blow after blow from his great hammer. Superman used the power cosmic to establish a personal force field but even that in combination with his vast durability did not seem to be enough. Reeling under the assault the kryptonian sped away from the battle just to give himself a few moments of desperately needed time-out.

Relentlessly Magni pursued his opponent trying not to allow him any time for respite. Recognising that most forms of energy assault would not prevail against Superman Magni resorted to an unusual form of attack. A low level godblast delivered in rapid pulses rather than as a torrent of energy. He had used it before – it was less draining than a full high level godblast and more effective than anti-force.

Galactus had thought that by now Magni would be close to defeat and Thor himself would have entered the conflict. Thus at the very same moment as Magni commenced his pulsating godblast attack the destroyer of worlds amplified Supermans power cosmic level.

Unaware of this Magni saw with surprise that Superman was shrugging off his assault with apparent ease. A renewed and invigorated superman surrounded himself with a tight fitting force field energized by the power cosmic. He then launched himself at his foeman using perhaps his greatest weapon, his indescribable speed.

Somehow Magni sensed this coming just before it happened and drawing on elements of his mothers but more importantly his grandfathers powers passed on to him he mystically increased his own speed. It was enough just barely to react to the Kryptonian's speed.

At a speed defying description the fist of the nearly invulnerable onrushing Superman met the head of Mjolnor the hammer of Magna.swung with all the force that the Earth/Asgard Prince could muster. The impact of the collision surprised even Thor and Galactus now both physically on the field of battle. Which of these fared worse – the immovable force or the irresistible object – hammer or fist? Suffice to say after some alteration in it's course great Mjolnor returned to Magni and Superman was left clutching his right hand experiencing a level of pain heretofore beyond his experience.

For the second time in the battle the great Galactus increased the cosmic power level of Superman. The pain in the kryptonian's right hand disappeared immediately. He turned around and there was a look in his eye as he drunk in the power cosmic. There was nothing good or noble in that look.

" You have gone too far Galactus, I can no longer brook of your continuing interference while I stay my own hand" boomed Thor. With that the son of Odin and father of Magni drew forth the OdinAxe. "You survived this axe once Galactus, let us see if you can do so again!"

For Magni his father bestowed him a temporary gift – not an increase in strength or power as such, though doubtless worth more than that. No Thor bestowed upon Magni for the duration of the continuing battle all of the many thousands of years of his own hardened battle experience. The battle experience of the greatest warrior of all time!

Thor recognized the look in Superman's eyes. He had seen it before with the cosmic malfunctions - a polite euphemism for the failures of Galactus. Everyone knew of course of the great heralds such as the magnificent Silver Surfer, Nova, Air-Walker and others. But few knew of the failures - entities who had absorbed too much of the power cosmic and that had subsequently gone quite mad. Nor had Galactus subsequent removal of the power cosmic helped these poor entities as the madness had remained. Death following soon afterwards. Lord Thor had known specifically of two such but there were whispers of another.

Galactus had now suffused Superman with too much of the power cosmic, that much was clear. Though not exactly the same thing it could bear some comparison to the Asgardian warriors madness. Thor saw the fundamental goodness in Superman and hoped he could in some way be saved.

Literally bursting at the seams with the power cosmic and totally enraged with the madness upon him Superman bore down upon Magni at a speed even greater than normal. The force of Superman's blow to Magni's chin could be felt everywhere upon the Earth thousands of kilometers below. Magni was hurt by the blow which sent him hurtling towards the Earth – but he knew to go with the force of the blow. To allow himself to recover from it. Never in all his experiences had he felt quite such a blow but even so it did him no permanent damage and his instinct was only to get right back at Superman.

The maddened Superman his strength continuing to be greatly augmented through the power cosmic then thrust at Lord Thor himself seeking to wrest the OdinAxe from its master. If it is true that there is almost no force that can separate Magni from Mjolnor then it is assuredly even more true that no power may separate Thor from the OdinAxe unless the Lord of Asgard so wishes. After a time of scuffling with Lord Thor, the hopelessness of his task became apparent to the enraged Kryptonian. Patiently one of the Multiverse's most powerful skyfathers pulled the axe from Superman's grasp and smashed him away with the flat broad side of the blade careful not introduce the Kryptonian to it's unthinkably sharp edge. Superman only came back at Thor with even greater speed and the Lord of Asgard and Earth realized he needed to slow the speedster in order to affect his plan.

If not exactly the distraction Galactus had intended this served its purpose as the devourer proceeded down to the Earth momentarily unchallenged.

In a valiant though somewhat ill conceived effort the Warriors Three, Lady Sif, Balder, Heimdall, Thialfi and several other Asgardians approached Galactus their life forces empowering the destroyer construct. Even as disintegration energies began to build atop the destroyers visor cosmic energies from Galactus eyes lanced into areas of New Asgard dangerously close to their physical bodies and in one case too close. The stalwarts withdrew from the construct and Galactus swatted away the now inert Asgardian destroyer.

As the world devourer approached the outer edge of the Earth's atmosphere he was suddenly hit with the full force of an Asgardian godblast. Magni from New Asgard below had very quickly constructed a brace to hold his hammer. Allowing his life force to become as one with the hammer supreme he directed the torrent against Galactus bathing him in Asgardian energies. The godblast of Magni seemed to trouble Galactus as the titan held up his forearm to his face but it did not stop the titan nor even appreciably slow him down. In an eerie sight with a tidal wave of energy lashing about him Galactus began his descent through Earth's atmosphere.

For the merest of moments Galactus seemed indecisive as he continued to descend through the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere bathed in the fearsome and indeed awe-inspiring energies of Magni's unfettered godblast. Then as if coming to a decision he raised his hand and massive bolts of concussive force took form outside of the confines of the godblast energies. At the speed of thought they shot earthward curving around the extremities of Magni's godblast and temporarily laying him low. Galactus however did not emerge unscathed, his helmet was missing possibly destroyed, his armour blackened, pitted and heavily scorched. For the merest moment he looked shaken both in his confidence and physically. Though this was only ephemeral.

Thor could have ended the contestation with Superman at any point but he had wanted to save the Kryptonian if possible. The new Allfather found the most effective way to negate Superman's great speed was to slow time around him. This done Thor then raised the OdinAxe and commanded it to gently and slowly take the power cosmic from Superman. Several things had worked in Superman's favour not the least that he was a very powerful entity in his own right unlike some of the earlier heralds of Galactus.

It took some time that could be ill afforded but under Thor's strong direction the OdinAxe took from Superman all of the power cosmic with which Galactus had imbued him. Most importantly the man of steel was whole and himself again.

Again momentarily unopposed the world eater began the process of assembling his elemental converter. However both Thor and a recovered Superman, their differences resolved" were quick to confront him. Superman, enraged by Galactus treatment of him began at super speed smashing the devourer's partially assembled elemental converter. Yet, for all that rage, Galactus raised a hand and froze the Kryptonian motionless as if he had been placed in a stasis block though none was evident.

Magni came running to the confrontation but in truth still seemed heavily drained by his godblast efforts and concussed by Galactus mighty blow. Lord Thor had mystically increased his height to match Galactus current size.

So it was then that the two titans Thor and Galactus stood toe to toe. Thor, OdinSon, Lord of New Asgard and indeed all Earth, probably the most powerful skyfather in the Multiverse. Then the great Galactus ravager of countless worlds and the third force in the Universe whose siblings were no less than Mistress Death and great Eternity themselves. Godly mystical powers in abundance ranged against what Odin had described long ago as a cosmic force of nature.

Suddenly our small world, this island Earth of ours, seemed very small and very fragile. Could it survive even the first stages of an encounter between these two titans? It seemed for a moment at least that the entire Universe held its breath.

Thor could hardly contain the OdinAxe. It grew very hot, brilliant white rather than its usual silver grey colour and Asgardian and other arcane energies coruscated back and forth along its entire length. Thor felt it urging him to strike Galactus down. Imperiously, almost contemptuously Galactus drew forth from the Axe the power cosmic that had been drained from Superman. The Axe grew ever more agitated.

"I know of this little one" said Galactus looking towards the OdinAxe "your father once used it against me" but any trace of contempt had gone from his voice.

For the merest moment Galactus looked indecisive as if weighing options then at almost uncustomary indeed blinding speed he grasped part of the shaft of the Axe and sought to wrench it from Lord Thor. Billions of tons of earth below them immediately gave way under the initial impetus of their struggle as Thor sought to retain the Axe. Fleetingly Galactus wondered if it were a trivial attempt by Gaea to assist her son but it was simply a matter of physics in operation.

In the next moment the two titans were flying though space and time locked together as they continued to struggle for the OdinAxe. Thor seemed unable to break Galactus grip and the world destroyer seemed equally unable to wrest the axe from Thor. Mystical energies competed with the power cosmic and at times seemed to almost merge with and become one with the power cosmic. To any capable of observing them they must have seemed like a blazing star hurtling through the heavens except that this "star" knew no constraints as to distance and time nor even as to inter-dimensional travel.

It has been said that Odin weakened the longer he might be away from Asgard but that the same does not apply to Thor. Just one of Odin's reasons for long ago creating the OdinAxe was that it would always enable him to draw on those nearly inexhaustible reservoirs of Asgardian energy wherever he might be in the Multiverse. Thus as Galactus drew as required from various energy sources that they passed near so Thor in turn drew via the OdinAxe on the vast reservoirs of Asgardian energy that exist in and around New Asgard and in certain other places.

At one point the path of the two titans and the axe led into the very core of Balderon largest of all the black holes of the Multiverse where they slowed under the most immense naturally occurring gravitational pull in existence. In this place Galactus released his grip on the axe and left the immediate vicinity of the black hole curious to see if Thor could escape it. If the world eater seriously thought that victory could be achieved in such a cheap fashion he was sadly mistaken as the OdinSon emerged from the phenomenon moments later.

Again Galactus grasped the Axe clearly thinking that wresting it from Thor was the key to defeating the Thunderer. Their journey through space and time continued.

There is a phenomenon not often encountered in the Marvel Mutilverse. It is similar to a black hole but it's pull extends across all known dimensions. Anything held in its super gravitational pull is drawn into it and if it survives at all is thrown out into the ethereal void beyond the Multiverse. No one has as yet provided a name for this perhaps the greatest of all the Multiverse's natural phenomena since from the reference point of any particular dimension it seems only like an ordinary black hole. Whether unknowingly or otherwise Thor and Galactus sped directly into one such. The forces acting upon them to expel them from the Multiverse were so great that for the merest instant they were forced to co-operate in order to escape those forces. It was a sobering experience for them both.

At some point in their continuing journey Galactus and Thor began probing then actually entering each others mindscapes raising their struggle to a different level. The struggle moved from one mindscape to another. If Galactus found Thor's mindscape unusual Thor found the mindscape of Galactus utterly alien and difficult to deal with. The struggle within the mindscapes seemed very physical in nature. Thor swung with the OdinAxe and though Galactus sought to avoid it the fearsome axe seemed to effortlessly rip not only through any personal force fields but also to rip away chest armour. When Galactus was in Thor's mindscape he was on the offensive and in his own he was on the defensive.

At one point Thor shouldered the OdinAxe and fists balled and coruscating with energy he traded blows with Galactus for what seemed like all Eternity. The pain and tiredness both felt from the mental confrontation seemed every bit as real as if it were a purely physical contest. Eventually with Galactus on the attack in Thor's mindscape the Thunderer landed a blow of such staggering might that Galactus found himself back in his own mindscape.

The battle continued to rage. Thor with his hands about the devourer's throat and Galactus responding with lancing beams of the power cosmic directly from his eyes into Thors face.

Exactly when the conflict of the minds ceased and gave way to a purely physical confrontation seemed unclear. However at some point it became evident to both combatants that not only had their battle returned to the physical level but that their long journey had ceased. They were somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy in our time.

Still the struggle continued unabated though the pain and the tiredness they had felt in the mindscapes continued into this physical contestation.

Galactus, perhaps sensing something, made one last mighty grasp for the OdinAxe. Thor felt his heart pound, his eyes bulged, every muscle in his body aching with pain strained to the limit. Something had to give and it did as he broke Galactus grip on the axe and in doing so hurled the titan toward a nearby sun. For whatever reason, and perhaps it was simple tiredness, Galactus was quite slow in returning.

Thor feeling close to exhaustion, even though he was continuing to tap via the OdinAxe into Asgardian energy reserves, was uncertain as to Galactus condition.

The Thunderer decided to end it quickly if this was possible. With the OdinAxe held firm he took perhaps the dangerous step of allowing his life force to become as one with the axe supreme. For a fleeting moment the axe attempted to take control but asserting himself Thor directed the resultant god/axe blast energies out against Galactus.

Galactus though near exhaustion refused to yield holding up his forearm against the blast as it smashed away his residual force fields and stripped him of what was left of his armour. Still the titan would not yield eventually changing into his energy cloud form.

In this form Galactus moved threateninglyowards Thor but then moved away slightly and began to disperse. Galactus was still clearly sentient in this form. For his part Thor was totally drained but sensed the energy cloud form of Galactus was at very low energy levels. It was at that moment that the mighty Thor sensed the distant presence of Galactus siblings Death and great Eternity. They seemed to present no overt or even covert threat but mayhap were there just as a reminder of Galactus place in the Universe. Thor decided to let it end there. Just before parting he noticed the energy cloud moving off in need of substantial sustenance.

Whether this now meant that Galactus would no longer trouble the Earth or that he would now even more embittered was impossible to say. Perhaps Thor had made a mistake today.

On his return to Earth Thor saw that Superman and Magni had overcome the stasis block effect Galactus had imposed on Superman.

Allfather Thor returned Superman to his own reality the latter full of appropriate for

the power of New Asgard. 'I wonder if I had encountered him in my own youth" thought Thor "how I myself devoid of the OdinPower might have fared against him?"

Magni's unfettered godblast had inevitably done damage to the Earth but acting in unison with his grandmother Gaea, Magni had already healed it.