WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Loki #3 by Daniel Kibblesmith, Oscar Bazaldua, David Curiel and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
The scope of the Marvel Universe's cosmic corner has always been incredibly large. While most people are aware of the likes of Thanos, the Eternals and the Celestials, it goes even further than that. There are also plenty of cosmic entities that represent sentient facets of reality such as the Living Tribunal, Infinity, Death and others. These entities are the gods behind it all, the ones who hold the fabric of reality together.
But they aren't the only forces holding the Marvel Universe together. In Loki #3, we are introduced to two more all-powerful cosmic characters: the Children of Eternity, known as Then and Now. While it was already known that Eternity had seven children (Empathy, Eon, Enmity, Epiphany, Entropy, Expediency and Eulogy), Then and Now refer to themselves directly as the Children of Eternity. What's more, they also work in tandem as part of the same whole -- and that whole changes everything we knew about the Marvel Universe.
Then and Now first appeared in the final page of Loki #2, where they were revealed to be the curators of the House of Ideas, the metaphysical house that contains infinite stories that debuted in Avengers: No Road Home. However, in Loki #3, we learn more about this House of Ideas. As it turns out, it's actually a branch of the Halls of All-Knowing, which itself is a part of Omnipotence City, the Nexus of the Gods.
Then and Now oversee the House of Ideas, and they give Loki the grand tour. They show him giant libraries that collect the stories of every hero in the Marvel Universe before offering an explanation for a long-term problem within the Marvel Universe.
As Loki marvels upon the libraries of Wolverine, Spider-Man and Thor's stories, stacks of books that stretch well beyond what he can see, the Children of Eternity explain that it is because of them these superheroes are able to have so many different adventures at the same time. Fans have always poked fun at the idea that Wolverine and Spider-Man appear in multiple books at the same time, on their own or as part of different superhero teams, wondering how they would have the time to fit all of these adventures into their lives.
This stories offers an in-universe explanation for that.
Essentially, Then and Now are the reason Wolverine and Spider-Man appear in multiple books at the same time. They are the ones who offer these heroes more time, or "blank pages" as they call them, to have more adventures so that they may be able to help more people.
Furthermore, Then and Now reveal they have interacted with the likes of Peter Parker and Logan to give them the gift of time. However, the heroes have no memories of these meetings. Then and Now heard their requests, either in dreams, prayers or screams of anguish, and they made it happen.
Simply put, Then and Now heard these superheroes' wishes to have more time to save people, and they gave it to them. This changes what we thought we knew about the concept of time in the Marvel Universe -- at least for certain characters. Then and Now are incredibly powerful and, while their introduction is meant to explain something that didn't really need explaining, they make for a major addition in the Marvel Universe's cosmic tapestry.
What does that mean for Loki? Since he is currently on a quest to become a hero on the same level as the rest of the Avengers, he strikes a bargain with Then and Now to have more time and more heroic opportunities. But the Children of Eternity are cosmic entities whom we may not fully understand yet. Is a deal with them truly only a good thing? When it comes to characters as powerful (and as secretive) as they are, there might be a whole lot more to their story... and the price that comes with it.