Fantastic Four 2005
To clarify further, nothing is said about whether the Phoenix Force petitioned the sentience of the universe or not. One might infer that, if one chose to:
* The universe was being destroyed, and all existence was falling into the hands of demonic forces.
The implications/significance are (at least) twofold. The Phoenix Force existed in a previous incarnation in the reality before the current one, and Galan would likely have fallen into the hands of the dark forces and never had the chance to become Galactus if not for the Phoenix Force.
People have argued that the statements about the Phoenix Force are from an alternate reality. That is one interpretation, certainly, but the official interpretation is that it is the reality that existed before the current multiverse.
The Phoenix Force harnessed all of the positive emotions of everyone in the universe to save all of its inhabitants from eternal damnation, enabling the sentience of the universe join with Galan of Taa and allow him to survive the destruction of the universe, and to ultimately become Galactus in that Universe. So, the implication is that the events of that series took place in the universe before the current one.
During this conflict, the Living Tribunal is seen to be holding the Two Brothers in the palm of his hand, as he goes to consult with his "hooded, spectral ally" (clearly the Spectre). As the old universe is destroyed, the Tribunal releases the Brothers to "assume their pre-destined roles as architects of new realities."
So, while the ADVENTURES OF THE X-MEN might not be seen as official canon under other circumstances, the book was written by Ralph Macchio, with the assistance of Mike Carlin, indicating that both Marvel and DC were involved in this explanation. Their intentions seem quite clear and there is no information to dispute this.
The M'Kraan Crystal is a nexus of realities. Destruction of the crystal destroyed the multiverse, effectively ending all realities and starting a new multiverse. The activities that occur in that issue are the very last in any reality.
The M'Kraan Crystal's destruction of the universe manifested itself as a radiation plague that moved from the Milky Way and/or Shi'ar Galaxy outward, closing in on Taa last. Since it can alter reality, it could have created this plague retroactively.
The Living Tribunal is also unique in the multiverse, so this is "the" Living Tribunal acting, not some counterpart.
The Phoenix Force dies only to be reborn again. It was re-created at the Big Bang. The Phoenix Force saved everyone in the universe from eternal damnation, which made it possible for Galan to still be around to be saved by Eternity/the sentience of the universe. Galan would not have even been remotely aware of the Phoenix Force's involvement, and the Phoenix Force likely would not have recognized Galactus as the former Galan. Plus, some 15 billion years passed, so memories may be a little rusty.
There is nothing that actually states it to be an alternate reality, and there is no evidence that suggests that there was not an Earth in the previous universe.
This information is not even new. It has a precedent in the MARVEL ENCYCLOPEDIA: FANTASTIC FOUR, and both times the information was approved by Tom Brevoort.
* Muraitak of the Xandarian Star-Corps from NOVA #15-16
* St'kr from SILVER SURFER #27
* Tenelle, who appeared in NAMOR #18
* Y’tll from SILVER SURFER #28
* Zkrodd from IMPOSSIBLE MAN SUMMER FUN SPECTACULAR
* Rocco from AVENGERS Annual #14…Thanks to Robbert Graner for highlighting this last omission.
Fantastic Four Bibliography