What the D'ast? Air-Walker
(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with Marvel Cosmic and its many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.) By Byron Brewer I will never forget the dramatic debut of Air-Walker (or rather, as we would later learn, the automaton into which the consciousness of Gabriel Lan had been stuff by Galactus) at the end of Fantastic Four #120. It was of Biblical proportions (with a capitol B), if you have never seen it: Air-Walker appears for the first time, fiery angel-like wings surrounding his flowing garment. He says something like: “My name is Gabriel! I come from above! And with the blowing of this clarion is signaled the end of all mankind!” And then he blows this big horn! Sunday school kids: sound familiar? It was a hoot the next issue to find out Gabriel (or the robot who would be Air-Walker) was in fact a new Herald of Galactus! No heavenly angel, we later discover that a living, breathing Gabriel Lan had been a member of the Xandarian Nova Corps and the captain of the diplomatic and exploratory spaceship Way-Opener. Returning from a mission in space, Way-Opener was confronted by a vessel of Galactus, who abducts Lan and offers to transform him into a Herald, in similar fashion to the Silver Surfer. Lan voluntarily accepts the Power Cosmic and becomes Air-Walker! Especially touching, I have always thought, is the close friendship between Air-Walker and fellow Herald Firelord, Pyreus Kril. Kril was also an officer in the Nova Corps who served with Lan aboard Way-Opener. When Lan was selected by Galactus to serve as his Herald, Kril left the service to track Galactus’ movements, hoping to save his friend from a life of servitude to the World Devourer. When Kril finally caught up to Galactus, he demanded to know of his comrade’s fate. Galactus promised to tell him if Kril would become his Herald. Kril agreed, and was transformed by the Power Cosmic into Firelord. As for Air-Walker, he becomes devoted to Galactus, and on one journey to seek a planet for sustenance for Galactus, battles the alien race the Ovoids. The Ovoids manage to kill Lan, but not before Galactus retrieves and transfers the last spark of Lan’s soul to an android body. Dissatisfied with the android, Galactus sends it to Earth to re-enlist the Silver Surfer as his Herald. Air-Walker encounters the Fantastic Four in the fashion I earlier described and is then defeated by the Surfer, who guesses at the android’s true nature. Reed Richards reprograms Galactus’ ship to take him to the Negative Zone, where he will apparently have an abundance of worlds to consume. Firelord and the Surfer eventually revive the android to aid in a battle against Galactus’ most ruthless Herald, Morg, who completely destroys Air-Walker. Lan’s consciousness is then absorbed into the computer of Galactus’s Worldship and in data form directs Galactus to uninhabited worlds. Although the Worldship is later destroyed in a battle with Tyrant, Air-Walker is restored to physical form and battles the Annihilation Wave alongside his fellow Heralds, but is destroyed once again. Gabriel Lan has proven himself a credit to both the spirits of the Nova Corps and Big G. He may not be much in a cosmic firefight, but he is loyal to a fault and hard to keep down! I would love to see Air-Walker rise from the ashes again, this time ‘round showing he has the stuff to wield and be deserving of the Power Cosmic!