In the comic books
published by Marvel Comics
, cosmic entities
(also referred to as cosmic beings
) are fictional characters possessing power
on a stellar
, or even multiversal
level, far beyond those of humans or conventional superheroes, and frequently serving some natural function in the fictional universes in which they exist.
The fictional Marvel Universe
contains a number of beings in this category that are literally part of the universe, with their existence necessary to provide a certain function. Much like organs provide specific functions for the human body, these entities provide functions for the universe itself. There is no official (known) name for these beings, but they are often referred as cosmic entities or cosmic beings. Recent volumes of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe
have been referring to them as "Abstracts
Many of them embody some concept or fulfil some essential need, but there are others who are considered within this reference frame simply due to their scale of power, such as the Infinites
, Cosmic Cubes
, or Watchers
Each cosmic being is unique, but they often have the following characteristics in common:
- Power greater than that of virtually any mortal being, with extremely rare exceptions. Note, however, that their level of power greatly varies, with some being able to affect the entire space-time multiversal reality. The Living Tribunal, Eternity, Master Order, and Lord Chaos were once referred as meeting in 16-dimensional space.
- No physical form. To visit the material universe they must use ‘M-bodies’, lifeforms created for them by an entity called Anthropomorpho in the ‘dimension of manifestations.’ The power bestowed upon a manifestation body is said to be directly dependent on how well any given creation is able to 'synchronize' with a their assigned entity. This serves as a failsafe explanation as to how higher-dimensional concepts, of literally greater than infinite power by 3-dimensional standards, are sometimes overcome by far more limited lifeforms. Such bodies can also be granted as representatives of certain uniquely prominent physical entities, such as the Stranger or Galactus.
- A completely amoral nature, uncaring about anything but their purpose of existence, and frequently to safeguard their Universe, i.e. themselves, from destruction. Although some have recurrently displayed personal, or even human-like, sentiments, and the Living Tribunal could be argued as maintaining a form of morality.
The Marvel Universe versions of the gods of most earthly religions, excepting Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are not cosmic in the traditional sense, although the strongest of them such as Atum, Odin, and Zeus can rival or exceed the power of certain cosmic beings, as can the most powerful demons or independent mystic entities such as Zom, Dormammu, Mephisto, or the Vishanti, and, per extension, the sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange, at times when he channels their full power. Certain mortal beings such as the Molecule Man, Mad Jim Jaspers, Franklin Richards, Hyperstorm, the Scarlet Witch, Gravity and others have reached universe or even multiverse-affecting status. Heralds of Galactus are granted a small fraction of his power, proven enough to shatter planets, and the Elders of the Universe possess comparative, or in rare cases superior, power, as do certain other elite Marvel superheroes or supervillains, such as Quasar, Thanos, Sentry, Binary, and Gladiator, but their existence is not necessary for the universe to function. Others pretend to embody existential concepts, but lack the power of the true entities, such as the demon D'Spayre who has claimed to embody despair. Exactly how many true cosmic entities exist is unknown, and more keep being discovered as time passes.
Cosmic entities appear to have a loose organization, where each acts by itself, or in a small group, and they are frequently set up in dualistic opposition, such as Eternity and Death, Infinity and Oblivion, or Chaos and Order, sometimes even with a balancing entity, such as the In-Betweener or Galactus. However, they are all bound by a common set of rules, as imposed by the Living Tribunal (see below).
These beings include:
The following is a partial list of the known cosmic entities and their functions:
- The Living Tribunal is the judge of the cosmic entities who ensures that the cosmic laws are obeyed, and safeguards the multiverse from mystical imbalance. It has declared itself to "transcend the realms of Death and Eternity, Order and Chaos. All the opposing realities", likening itself to all spectra and scales of dualities and balance. Before the Living Tribunal can act his three faces must reach a unanimous verdict; These represent Necessity, Vengeance and Equity. It claims to act as a representative for an even higher being, that has never been explicitly shown; though this higher power has been referred to as the One Above All. The Tribunal is generally considered to be the most powerful of all known cosmic entities; though this has been portrayed inconsistently, as the Infinites and Heart of Infinite seemingly exceed it. Note that the Tribunal rules over all of the Marvel Universe's alternate versions as well; an M-Body of the Living Tribunal is present in each universe of the Marvel multiverse.
- Nemesis is a being formed when the seven Infinity Gems come together. It claims to exist to create universes.
- Eternity - Sentience and supreme Time being of the universe. Sometimes acts in conjunction with its counterpart, Infinity. When talking to the Silver Surfer about various universal trinities the Living Tribunal likened Eternity to necessity.
- Death - Embodies the end that eventually comes to all living things, ranging from single cell organisms, sentient mortal beings to the universe itself. The opposite of Eternity. The Living Tribunal likened Death to vengeance.
- Infinity- The counterpart of Eternity, but appears as a female. Believed to embody the concept of space, and along with Eternity embodies the space/time continuum. Perhaps better described as "the other side of the coin," and not as a fully separate entity from Eternity.
- Oblivion - The counterpart of Death, but appears as a male. Embodies the nothingness from which everything came and will eventually return to. Perhaps better described as "the other side of the coin," and not as a fully separate entity from Death.
- Master Order - Embodies the universal concept of Order. Opposite of Lord Chaos. Likened to necessity by the Living Tribunal.
- Lord Chaos - Embodies the universal concept of Chaos. Opposite of Master Order. Together with Master Order, Lord Chaos claims to be responsible for assigning fates to mortals. Likened to vengeance by the Living Tribunal. Master Order and Lord Chaos created the In-Betweener as a balance between them.
- Galactus - The devourer of worlds, and the only survivor of the previous universe, reborn in the Big Bang as a "galactic ravager". While not an abstract being in the traditional, non-corporeal sense, he has been described as the "third force of the universe", has stated that he exists to rectify the imbalances of Eternity and Death, nullifies Abraxas' destructive influence on the universe, and in one alternate future will initiate the creation of the next universe. He has called Eternity "father", and Death has called him "my husband and father, my brother and son", as they were "born at the same moment" and are "two corners of that great triangle that is the universe". The Living Tribunal likened Galactus to Equity.
- In-Betweener - Represents the synthesis between all concepts within the universe, such as life and death, order and chaos, love and hate, god and man, impotence and omnipotence. However, it resents its servitude to Order and Chaos, and has tried to break free several times. The In-Betweener was directly created by Order and Chaos and is looked upon by them as an agent. The Living Tribunal has likened it to equity.
- Destiny - Embodies the concept of Destiny. Appears as a teenage girl. Rarely observed, her powers are not entirely clear.
- The Phoenix Force- The culmination of all psionic energy that exists, has existed, or ever will exist, via sentient life. Its actual function is unclear, but it has been described as 'the passion of creation', 'rebirth through destruction', or 'to burn away the obsolete' - In the universe which existed before the current Marvel Universe, the Phoenix Force saved all life from damnation, and ensured that Galan remained alive long enough to meet and unite with the Sentience of the Universe, to be reborn as Galactus in the current creation. It has a tendency to materially manifest via telepathic mortals. At other times, it is known to exist as a non-conscious essence of nature, devoid of interaction with the physical realms. The Phoenix Force is usually associated with the mortal mutants Jean Grey, or Rachel Summers who serve as avatars/hosts of the Phoenix Force.
- Celestials - A race of cosmic beings with several human-like qualities. Apparently, they guide cosmic evolution to create new beings such as themselves, and possess power enough to create entire universes, or contain such within themselves. They have numerous possible origins.
- Cosmic Cubes - Objects of great power. Not always cubical, and in such cases referred as "cosmic containment units". Created by the Beyonders to test the concept of desire in mortal beings. They can grant wishes, but eventually are "born" into individual entities. The Shaper of Worlds, Kubik, and Kosmos are all former cosmic cubes. Possess power enough to erase galaxies from existence, attain galactic size and create universes, or collapse one upon itself.
- Stranger – A cosmic mystery. The Living Tribunal once stated that on the empty fourth side of its skull "there could have been the face of the Stranger", and "I bestride all dualities, but I am not unified! I judge the dualities, and must thus know their nature! I who could be all must be but a part! I must be apart!" The Stranger initially claimed to be a composite being, the result of the planet Gigantus' population merged into one entity, although this is likely a lie told by the Stanger to keep his true origin shrouded in mystery. The Stranger himself may not know his true origins, thus making him a stranger even to himself.
- Kronos- Once the ruler of Eternals of Earth. One of his experiments blew his atoms apart, so he now exists as a humanoid nebula. Apparently considered a cosmic entity with control over time.
- Anomaly - A bizarre being that embodied exceptions to all things. It existed in a state similar to that of Chronos, but was killed (and its position and power assumed) by Oblivion’s agent, Maelstrom. However, it was later shown to have been resurrected
- Eon - Responsible for choosing the Protectors of the Universe, mortal champions elected to face one specific menace to life in the universe each. Killed by Maelstrom, but succeeded by its "daughter" Epoch.
- Origin - A being apparently responsible for the existence of all superheroes and villains, by manipulating events and implanting ideas in their minds. Needs to incarnate in living bodies. Its enemy is the Un-Being.
- Un-Being - An agent of Oblivion, seeks to kill Origin and erase all reality. Apparently also needs to incarnate in living bodies
- The Beyonders are a race from outside the main physical universe. Their form and purpose is unknown. It is known that they exist outside of linear time, and that they created the Cosmic Cubes.
- The Infinites - Higher-dimensional entities far above Eternity, who once tried to 'align' the universe to a more balanced and efficient configuration. They are using planet-sized Servitors and Walkers to act as representatives and workers in lower realms.
- The Proemial Gods - Seemingly extinct. "Conceived through intent" by the Universe itself in the earliest stages of the creation event, as "order to balance chaos", and "caretakers", "tasked to maintain cosmic consonance". When Diableri of Chaos wished to impose his own will upon the Universe, a civil war broke out amongst them. Eventually, Diableri brought the war to Galactus. Galactus personally slew Diableri, and imprisoned the latter's two main lieutenants, Tenebrous of the Darkness Between and Aegis Lady of All Sorrows, possibly along with Antiphon the Overseer, within the Kyln.
- The Tetrarchs of Entropy - (Hafga, Heml, Vug, Yod) - enigmatic extra-dimensional entities.
See the List of Marvel Comics cosmic entities for more information.