The Marvel mythos has never shied away from big ideas. Aliens, superpowers, cosmic events and heroic resurrections have all been a part of the formula since day one, but as the comics have developed, larger and larger concepts have come into play.
Many of these concepts are so vast and abstract that they are nearly impossible to comprehend. As a result, Cosmic Beings have come into existence to personify these concepts and ground them in reality. Almost every hero has been involved in some way or another with a Cosmic Being, be they the embodiment of Death, Eternity or otherwise, and these entities structure and control the Marvel Universe as we know it. With that in mind, here are the 15 most powerful and influential Cosmic Beings in Marvel history.
Known as The Devourer of Worlds, Galactus is the sole survivor of a Universe that existed before our own. When the Big Bang’s event horizon appeared in his Universe, he flew his spaceship directly into its core. There, he encountered The Sentience Of The Universe, which merged with him as all matter was obliterated and re-formed. Preserved by this being, Galactus floated through the new Universe until he was inadvertently awoken by a Watcher, and discovered he was hungry.
Now a being of pure energy, Galactus found that only the sustenance of a planet could keep him alive. Thus, the Devourer of Worlds was born. Soon, he began feeding on inhabited worlds, and came across the planet of Zenn-La. On it, a brave individual named Norrin Radd swore to help Galactus find other planets to feed upon, provided that his own was spared. Galactus granted his wish, creating the Silver Surfer, who would become his herald, and one day, his greatest nemesis.
Cyttorak is a resident of the Crimson Cosmos, a dimension where time does not pass, and has existed in human memory since at least the 7th century AD. He gives his power to his worshippers through magical relics, the most powerful being the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak. The gem was created by Cyttorak as part of the Ceremony of Octessence, a cosmic wager between Cyttorak and seven other deities to decide who was the most powerful.
Whoever possesses the gem gains the power Cyttorak, and several have become his avatar. The most famous of these was Cain Marko, also known as the Juggernaut. A stepbrother of Professor X, Marko and Xavier were fighting together in the Korean War when they stumbled upon the gem in a cave. Marko touched the gem and read its inscription, and gained the immense powers of Cyttorak. This has been both a blessing and a curse, as most cosmic gifts tend to be. Though he has gained near immeasurable strength, as long as he has the gem, he is a slave to Cyttorak’s machinations.
13 The Stranger
The Stranger is a curiosity in the cosmic realm. As his name implies, his true origins are shrouded in mystery, but it can be assumed that he is a composite being, made up from a planet known as Gigantus. In its prime, Gigantus became the target of the Eternals, who were unable to conquer the massive planet and decided to destroy it instead. After a successful retaliation, the Gigantians combined their bodies and minds to form The Stranger. In this form, they fought Overmind, the composite being of the Eternals.
The Stranger has been involved with many heroes and villains in the Marvel catalogue, butting heads with the likes of Magneto, The Hulk and The Silver Surfer. Despite this, The Stranger has a sympathetic side that can be appealed to, has been known to help the Fantastic Four and Avengers in times of great need, and opposed Thanos as he gained power with the Infinity Gauntlet. The Stranger’s power is great indeed, with the potential to match even that of a Celestial, and he seems to be an entity that plays by his own rules, following no moral code but his own.
This God-like ruler of The Dark Dimension is one of Dr. Strange’s oldest and most resilient villains. He was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, first debuting in “Strange Tales" #126 in 1964, just 16 issues after the arrival of the good Doctor himself. Dormammu is a being of pure energy, and brought the concept of matter manipulation to his people. They didn’t like this one bit, and after murdering his father, Dormammu was banished, eventually finding his home in the Dark Dimension. Dormammu became the sole ruler of the Dark Dimension, and set out to ravage the rest of the known universe.
Dormammu is a being of pure evil. Though he has been banished from the Earth Realm multiple times, and sworn vows never to return, he is constantly hatching plots to sneakily break his promise. He has worked with Loki to sow dissent amongst Earth’s heroes, played chess with Odin to disrupt the balance of order and chaos (don’t worry, it was a draw) and has inhabited many bodies to infiltrate Earth without being physically present. Despite been foiled again and again, Dormammu is as patient as he is powerful, and will always be ready to strike again when the time is right.
11 Phoenix Force
The Phoenix Force is an all-encompassing energy field that feeds upon and embodies the feelings of passion and caring in the Multiverse. It is considered a Guardian of Creation, and protects the monstrously powerful M’Kraan crystal, which acts as an anchoring constant in every universe.
The Phoenix Force is most commonly associated with Jean Grey. The two have an inexplicable bond, and could be described as “soul mates.” They were first introduced when a car hit Jean’s childhood friend, and as she lay dying, Jean used her telepathic powers to attempt to bring her friend back from death. This drew the attention of the Phoenix Force, who spared Jean’s life, as she was being pulled to the other side herself. Eventually, the Phoenix Force came to inhabit Jean’s consciousness in a new body as her old one lay irradiated and dying. Together, they would become one of the most powerful entities in the X-men universe. However, the Phoenix Force found human emotion difficult to cope with. This disparity would give birth to the Dark Phoenix, whose hunger for destruction was so great that only the annihilation of an entire star system could satiate it.
A great trickster, Adversary is a demonic being that seeks to destroy the current universe and place a new one in its stead. His true form is pure chaotic energy and incalculable power, and he is able to possess physical beings in order to further his schemes. The Cheyenne natives have long known of Adversary, and their shamans are trained in the mystic arts in order to combat him.
His first appearance was in “Uncanny X-men" #188. Naze was a shamanistic leader who was teaching his apprentice, Forge, the ways of combating Adversary. Forge, however, decided to abandon this path, and instead utilized his mutant ability as a perceiver of mechanical energy. This led him to become an inventor for the US army to combat the Dire Wraiths. When The Wraiths invaded, they killed Naze and mimicked his body, which in turn was possessed by Adversary. After turning the X-men against Forge, Adversary was able to gain a foothold on Earth and begin his plot of Universal annihilation. Thankfully, the goddess Roma was there to combat him, and with the help of Forge and the sacrifices of the X-men, Adversary was safely banished from Earth’s dimension…at least for now.
9 Amatsu-Mikaboshi (Chaos King)
Amatsu-Mikaboshi, also known as the Chaos King, is a primordial entity that embodies the void that existed before the creation of the Universe. The character himself was created by Michael Oeming and Scott Colins, first appearing in “Thor: Blood Oath" #6. The Chaos King is a very successful demonic being, and managed to consume most of existence in the “Chaos War” saga.
Mikaboshi began his crusade by murdering Nightmare, which rendered most of humanity unconscious. He then destroyed the various pantheons of Earth Gods, successfully murdering Zeus, Sun God Amaterasu, Gaea and Satan himself. The only thing that stood in his way was the God Squad, which was made up of Hercules, Thor, The Silver Surfer, Galactus, Venus and Sersi the Eternal. Despite their heroic efforts, The Chaos King still managed to destroy most of reality, and Athena decided the best option was to flee to a sealed-off continuum and instigate another Big Bang. Hercules, however, wished to go down fighting, and managed to hurl the Chaos King into the sealed-off continuum instead, thus banishing him. Hercules then expended all his immortal power to restore what Mikaboshi had destroyed, and lived the rest of his days as a mortal man.
8 Mistress Death
Death is a powerful and pervasive entity in the Marvel universe, and often appears in a female form. Her most famous relationship is with Thanos the Mad Titan, who continues to go to great and terrible lengths to impress her, the only being he ever loved.
Thanos first obtained a Cosmic Cube to take control of the Universe, but Death abandoned him when Captain Marvel, Drax and the Avengers defeated him. His next effort to woo her was even more ambitious, as he obtained the Infinity Gems in an effort to extinguish the stars and bring death to all beings. This plan also fell through when he was defeated yet again by Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock. Death also had a fling with Deadpool, who is her ultimate romantic foil; although, due to his inability to die, it is necessarily unrequited. Death is an eternal entity that will always be present in the Marvel Universe, and takes life as she chooses, even if her decrees are not permanent (nobody stays dead in comics for long, after all).
Oblivion is one of the cornerstones of existence and shares a close relationship with Death. They are very similar in nature, as Oblivion is the embodiment of non-existence and nothingness. He lives in a realm known as the Outer Void, and was created by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Alan Kupperberg.
In the 1985 “Iceman” series, Oblivion split off a part of himself to have his daughter. She went to Earth and took the human form of Mirage, and allied herself with Iceman. The two of them then turned against her father, who sent more of his children to subdue her. After a lengthy struggle, and the potential erasure of Iceman’s existence, Mirage amicably returned to her father, who reabsorbed her into his essence. Oblivion has also undertaken his own plots to destroy the Universe and pervade non-existence. He attempted to use Maelstrom as his avatar to disrupt a black hole so it would consume all matter, but this plot was thankfully stopped by his polar opposite, Infinity.
6 Eternity & Infinity
Eternity and Infinity are nigh-inseparable personifications of reality, with Eternity appearing as male and Infinity as female. Together they represent the fabric of space and time, and are in constant opposition to their negatives, Death and Oblivion.
Eternity has appeared in comics far more often than his counterpart, first appearing in “Strange Tales" #138. He was at the trial of Reed Richards, and provided him with the cosmic knowledge of Galactus' vital role in the Universe. He was also summoned by Hercules to help deal with Amatsu-Mikaboshi, but Eternity refused, stating that fighting the Chaos King would be like fighting an aspect of himself. Eternity and Infinity have also been a part of Thanos’ story arcs, and have helped stop him from destroying the Universe multiple times. They were most famously brought together in the “Infinity Wars” storyline, when a combined version of the two, a being that embodies all the Universe was and ever will be, is released from the Infinity Gauntlet.
5 Proemial Gods
The Proemial Gods can be considered the architects of the universe, and the shepherds of all that we know. Five in total, these beings have existed since the occurrence of the Big Bang, each with their own role in to play. Aegis, Lady of Sorrows, culls the Universe of its unneeded aberrations. Tenebrous monitors the living matter that binds the Universe together. Atiphon The Overseer maintains cosmic consonance, while Brio manages the wellbeing of new life forms. Finally, there is Diableri, who is responsible for maintaining entropy and balancing order with chaos.
As the Universe grew, the roles of the Proemial Gods became increasingly obsolete. Fearing this, Diableri convinced Tenebrous and Aegis that the Universe must be remade, and this started a Civil War between the Proemial Gods. Galactus himself got involved, and managed to slay Diableri and imprison Tenebrous and Aegis. They eventually escaped their prison, and after joining forces with Thanos and squaring off against Galactus and The Silver Surfer multiple times, the two meet their demise when they were overwhelmed by the Crunch barrier that separates the Universe from the Negative Zone.
4 The Celestials
The Celestials are an incredible race of beings that are responsible for constructing the fabric of the Multiverse, bringing it life and death, and giving humans the superpowers that have defined comics. They were once numerous, but have been reduced to roving hosts by a great war that took place eons ago. The Celestials experiment on various life forms and visit planets to determine whether their inhabitants should continue to exist or not.
The Celestials created super-powered mutants on Earth when they experimented on the apes that would one day evolve to become human. From the ape DNA, they created two offshoot races: the unsightly Deviants and the God-like Eternals. This tampering allowed for mutations within all the races. In humans, they would manifest as beneficial adaptations in times of stress, or would become the X gene, which gave amazing abilities. In the Eternal race, mutants such as Thanos sometimes appeared, and they were extremely powerful as well. The Deviant race was all but wiped out when they foolishly attacked a host of Celestials visiting Earth, for The Celestials are a race that exists outside our concept of reason, and have no patience for lesser beings.
3 The Beyonder
The Beyonder is a near omnipotent being created by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck, first appearing in “Secret Wars" #1 in 1984. The Beyonder came to be when scientist Owen Reece accessed the Beyond-Realm in his lab, and the energy from the dimension fused into him, creating Molecule Man. The remaining energy from the Beyond-Realm gained sentience, and became the one known as the Beyonder. He is a being that was born outside of the Multiverse, and his power is the sum of an entire hitherto unknown reality.
The Beyonder was intrigued by the concepts of good and evil, so he created a planet called Battleworld, rounded up a bunch of heroes and villains, and watched them duke it out. What he learned from this experiment was there was a lot more to humanity than he realized, so he decided to become one and gain the human experience first hand. Through this, he discovered love, pain and perspective, and generally caused a lot of mischief. The Beyonder is generally content to simply be and observe, and though his power is greater than all the Multiverse combined, he thankfully does not use it for any destructive purpose.
2 The Living Tribunal
The Living Tribunal is an incredibly powerful entity that stands for justice and balance, and operates as a cosmic judge in all realities. He first appeared in “Strange Tales #157: The Sands Of Death,” determined to destroy Earth after Dr. Strange upset the cosmic balance by releasing a multi-dimensional being named Zom. Thankfully, Strange was able to convince The Living Tribunal that Earth was worth preserving, but learned that tampering with the forces of mystic anarchy is a serious crime.
The Living Tribunal has three faces that it uses to pass judgment. The first stands for equity, the second for revenge, and the third for necessity. All three must agree on a sentence before judgment can be passed. It is said he once had a fourth face, which remains largely shrouded in mystery. When his draped face is revealed to She-Hulk in “She-Hulk" Vol. 2, all she sees is a reflection of herself, suggesting that judgment must be thought about in a very personal manner. The Living Tribunal answers only to one force, and is the strongest cosmic being that can be comprehended in the Multiverse.
1 The One Above All
The One Above All is the most powerful cosmic entity in the Marvel Mythos, and the embodiment of the unknowable concept of the transcendent Other. He is the one who set reality into motion. His power, knowledge and omnipresence are beyond anything that can be comprehended, and he is the only one The Living Tribunal answers to. The One Above All made the rules, and the Tribunal enforces them.
Despite his unlimited power, The One Above All is not beyond helping those that he resides over. He comforted a grieving Peter Parker in the form of a homeless man, showing him that all he did, even if it seemed negative, was for the greater good. He comically appeared as Jack Kirby to the Fantastic Four, promising years of extraordinary wonder ahead. Appearing as alternating forms of male and female, he gave an audience to Thanos and Adam Warlock after their reality was destroyed, and then restored it to being. The One Above All is spoken of only in reverence, is the anchoring point for all power in the Multiverse and exists in transcendent harmony with all things.
What do you think of our ultimate power rankings? Let us know who your favorite Cosmic Being is in the comments!