The Marvel Universe is a weird and wonderful place, full of elaborate histories and backstories about objects and beings with unfathomable powers. But have you ever wondered which magical artifact is the oldest, or the coolest, or the most powerful? CBR has. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 15 most powerful ancient magical items in the Marvel Universe.
As this list is concerned only with ancient and magical artifacts, rather than powerful technology and weapons from the recent past, present or future, items such as the M’Kraan Crystal, Infinity Gauntlet, Cosmic Cube and Ultimate Nullifier aren’t being counted here, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an immense arsenal of arcane magical artifacts left to choose from!
15 The Cloak of Levitation
No superhero is complete without a cape, and Doctor Strange arguably has the coolest cloak around. That’s because the Cloak of Levitation isn’t just a questionable fashion choice, it’s actually a powerful ancient artifact with a range of magical abilities, giving its wearer a distinct advantage in battle.
The first and most obvious of these abilities is that it enables the wearer to both fly and levitate. That’s not all it does, though. It can act autonomously in accordance with the will of its owner without command, apparently responding to their thoughts. In fact, it even exhibits semi-sentient behaviors (for instance, in “The Oath” miniseries, it is said to hide in its favorite closet). It also offers resistance to damage from physical, mystical and elemental attacks, and can change its shape to mimic other garments, making it extremely useful for defense and disguise.
Best of all, unlike many of the other magical artifacts that crop up around Doctor Strange and the Ancient One, the wearer doesn’t need to have extensive knowledge of the mystical arts in order to use it, nor does wearing it deplete the user’s mystical strength. It’s basically the perfect armor!
14 Neptune’s Trident
A lot of the artifacts on this list are vulnerable to damage, but not Neptune’s Trident. This immensely powerful magical object is made of adamantine and is thus virtually indestructible. According to canon, it was made by the first Cyclops for Poseidon, God of the Sea, and was forged by his “godly essence” (CBR is hoping that’s not as gross as it sounds), and later wielded by Poseidon’s champion, Namor, in his great battle with Sum-Ket (in “Namor the Sub-Mariner” #40).
The Trident gives the wielder some pretty cool -- if largely water-based -- powers. The most obvious is the power of water-conjuring and manipulation, which is rather useful when you’re the warden of the seas (as you can make whirlpools, typhoons, large waves, cyclones, etc. to see off your enemies). Neptune’s Trident has other tricks up its sleeve, as well. For instance, it can cause fog, storms and earthquakes, and allows the wielder to communicate with sea creatures.
Best of all, though, it has the power to mystically transform any object, humanoid or beast into another form -- including powering up individuals with superhuman strength, speed or size. It could also turn you into a conch shell if, y’know, you're into that kind of thing.
13 The Wands of Watoomb
Or, to give them their full title, the “Wicked” Wands of Watoomb (which is a bit judgmental, to be fair). There are six in total, all existing in different dimensions in the Marvel Universe, and all bearing the same name. In addition to looking pretty badass -- each one is a crystalline baton with demon heads carved into either end -- these wands are also insanely powerful. Each wand attunes with the mind of its wielder, allowing them to focus, amplify, redirect and manipulate mystical energy however they like.
The only real limit here is imagination: a Watoomb wand can be used to block mystical attacks, heal injuries, unleash energy blasts, erect defensive barriers, control the elements, open portals to other dimensions, or scry for a person, place, or object… and that’s just a few of the powers that have been revealed so far! There are no special conditions for using it, either; you don’t have to be wholly good or evil, and a magical newbie could do a considerable amount of damage if they wanted to! However, the wands do have a fatal weakness. Break ‘em in half, and they’re useless!
12 Siege Perilous
Although the exact age of the Siege Perilous is never stated, the writer responsible for its creation, Chris Claremont, based his concept on an old Arthurian legend concerned with spiritual or “holy” journeys, which isn’t altogether surprising when considering what the Siege Perilous actually does. To put simply, it opens a portal to an unknown dimension, where all those who enter are “judged” according to their life’s deeds. CBR is therefore going to hazard a guess at this artifact is pretty old.
With enough power, it can be used to access alternate realities, timelines or universes. For instance, in “Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors,” the Goblin used the device to visit alternate Earths and gather up lots of Spidey DNA samples. However, the Siege Perilous is still a pretty dangerous toy to play with. When most of the X-Men flee into the Siege Perilous to escape the Reavers, they end up scattered all over the Earth without their memories, which puts a spanner in the whole "superheroes-saving-the-world" thing they’re so keen on. So, as good as instant transport may seem, maybe leave it off your Christmas wish list this year.
Of all the mystical blades in the Marvel Universe, Dragonfang arguably has the coolest origin story. It was carved from the tusk of an extradimensional dragon (because regular dragons are so last season) by a powerful wizard named Kahji-Da, before being passed into the care of the Ancient One for safekeeping. Several notable characters have wielded it since its first appearance in “Defenders” #12 in 1974, including Doctor Strange, the Valkyrie (after returning the Ebony Blade) and the Lady Sif (during Ragnarök, after Valkyrie fell in battle).
So, how does the sword’s range of abilities compare with the rest of the items on this list? Firstly, it’s indestructible -- not something to be sniffed at when you’re going up against gods and monsters. Additionally, it is capable of magic absorption whenever it comes into contact with blood (luckily, it’s pointy and sharp, so that’s rarely a problem). Finally, it can shatter even the most powerful magical barriers, meaning the wielder can easily disable non-physical defence systems. All in all, it’s a pretty heavy hitter and therefore easily earns its place on this list!
10 The Crimson Gem of Cyttorak
The Crimson Gem of Cyttorak has picked up a wide range of bizarre accolades over the years: it is arguably the most powerful artifact ever to have been made as the result of a bet, or to give the event its proper name, the Wager of Octessence. It’s also the most powerful thing anyone’s used as a paperweight... like, ever (as seen in “X-Men” Vol. 2 #54).
The Gem has a very precise power, which is that it can turn any human who comes into contact with it into a juggernaut: a being with immense strength and stamina who does not need to eat, breathe or sleep. Although it’s since been attributed with a whole range of weird additional powers (including the ability to animate wax statues and to send communication signals around the globe), most fans will recognize the Gem as the source of power for Cain Marko’s (aka X-Men’s Juggernaut); once he’s in motion, he simply cannot be stopped... well, usually.
As with many items on this list, the wielder of the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak is not invulnerable. In Marko’s case, the Gem actually becomes his prison after Onslaught (posing as Xavier) manages to debilitate and capture him, which goes to show that sometimes your greatest strength is also your biggest weakness. Tough luck, Marko!
9 The Casket of Ancient Winters
Okay, so with all this global warming malarkey, winters have been getting pretty damn cold lately: massive storms, power blackouts and impassable roads are just part of the chaos that winter can bring. But our petty little human storms have got nothing on the Casket of Ancient Winter, an arcane magical box containing the Fimbulwinter of Ymir.
This artifact has the power to freeze everything that comes into contact with the force inside it, whether animal, vegetable, mineral or magical. Not only can it take down droves of mighty Asgardians, Ulik trolls and Frost Giants, but it is even capable of spreading winter to the realm of death, meaning it can literally make hell freeze over!
Its power, however, can be cancelled out by the equally elusive Gem of Infinite Suns, another powerful Asgardian artifact containing the power and heat of sunlight. So, despite its incredible abilities, The Casket of Ancient Winters is still nowhere near the most powerful item on our list.
Don’t let the name fool you: this ancient sword, forged for the Japanese God Amatsu-Miksaboshi to aid him in his battle against the Greek God, Zeus, is one of the most powerful magical weapons ever to appear in the Marvel Universe (although it appeared first in “Usagi Yojimbo” #13, a Dark Horse comic). It is sometimes referred to as Kusanagi or the Snake Sword. Although it has a counterpart, Godkiller (the sword given to Zeus), Grasscutter is the superior blade, being “perfect” in every respect. It can cut through anything... including gods.
In “Thor: Blood Oath,” the titular Odison was allowed to possess the blade for a short time in order to kill Mikaboshi. Later, Phobos wielded Grasscutter as part of Nick Fury’s “Secret Warriors,” and he also used the blade to kill Ares, the God of War, which stained it red. Overall, CBR reckons anything that can kill an omnipotent being is pretty badass!
7 Black Vortex
The Black Vortex is perhaps the most unpredictable artifact we've been able to conjure, owing to the fact that the powers it grants are individualized. The Vortex was first created around 12 billion years ago by the Celestial Godhead after he was asked by Gara of the Viscardi (an ancient tribe of intelligent beings) to help further their potential. A year later, wars had broken out all over the planet and Gara’s people had destroyed themselves, leaving her the sole survivor of her race.
Why? Well, the Black Vortex acts like a sort of mirror that shows the individual their ideal selves, with all their cosmic potential unleashed in full force. All the user has to do is utter the magic words “I submit to the Black Vortex,” and voilà! They are instantly granted the superpowers the Vortex promised. Of course, this makes it a highly sought-after magical object, but it can corrupt even the purest of souls if they let it; the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men included. Its users are far from infallible though, as the Vortex can revert their states and rob them of their powers at any time. Also, the enhancements it provides wear off over time and/or with exertion.
6 The Bloodgem
The Bloodgem, or Blood Stone, is a fragment from an ancient meteorite that landed in Northern Vanaheim back in 8250 BC, under the control of a powerful and villainous entity known as the Ex-Mind. Although the Ex-Mind sent its agent, Ulluxy'l Kwan Tae Syn, to find a suitable host for the meteorite, a curious human being (Ulysses Bloodstone) gets to it first and, in the fight that ensues, ends up with a lump of the meteorite embedded in his chest.
Although this turns Ulysses into an immortal being with superhuman strength, durability and accelerated healing powers (which is a pretty sweet set-up for a superhero), his tribe is killed in the explosion that transforms him. Thus, he swears revenge on Ulluxy'l Kwan Tae Syn. Luckily, he’s basically a one-man army and dispensing his enemies isn’t too much of a challenge!
It’s worth pointing out, though, that Ulysses relies on the Bloodgem to survive. In “Hulk” #211, a being with similar abilities imbued by another piece of the meteorite, Maha Yogi, ages 10,000 years in one moment after the Hulk crushes his “Jewel of Jeopardy.” There are clearly pros and cons to using the Bloodgem, but there are a few of us here at CBR who wouldn’t mind trying it out.
5 Evil Eye of Avalon
If you thought that alchemists are all about the gold, then think again! The magical science of the Marvel Universe can be altogether more deadly -- just ask Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. One of their many brainchildren, the ancient alchemists of Avalon forged a mystical weapon from a near-indestructible metal imbued with the power to quite literally unravel the world.
So what can the Evil Eye do? Well, for a start, it can rearrange molecules and disintegrate people, objects and even planets at the will of its wielder, making it one of the most powerful magical artifacts in this list. On top of that, it allows its user to travel through time and space, release energy blasts, create forcefields and nullify other sources of energy, meaning it can make even the most powerful non-physical attacks useless. It also has a rather deadly safety mechanism that means, when overcharged, the Evil Eye will explode into six distinct pieces, ripping through anything in its path (a person, a building, a planet) as it does so. It may look like an oversized flashlight, but it’s a formidable weapon in the wrong hands.
If you’ve never heard of Mjolnir, then where have you been for the last 50 years? This magical hammer, the name of which translates rather satisfyingly as “that which smashes,” first appeared in Marvel in “Journey Into Mystery” #63 back in 1962 and has since become one of the most recognizable objects in the Marvel Universe, having become the weapon of choice for everyone’s favorite God of Thunder, Thor.
Mjolnir is imbued with amazing magical powers: it can conjure wind, rain and lightning, open interdimensional portals, be summoned over large distances and return to the exact spot it was thrown unless otherwise commanded. It also provides Thor with a mortal disguise (that of physician Donald Blake) and conceals itself as a walking stick so no-one gets suspicious. Additionally, if the two “Thor” films are accepted as canon, it can also enable its wielder to fly (or at least create a sort of hammer-helicopter that propels him into the air).
There’s only one catch: no living being may lift the hammer unless they are “worthy” of its power… and Mjolnir’s got insanely high standards. That means the chances of a CBR Team mortal being able to wield it are pretty much zilch. Ah, but we can dream!
3 The Ka Stone
The Ka Stone is an ancient gem of power believed to be connected to the Alpha and Omega Stones found on Kree-Lar, which are remnants of the previous universe. It’s cropped up in various Marvel comics over the years (including “Nova” and “The New Warriors”), and is thought to be a fragment of the Lifestone Tree. This is about as old and as sacred as it gets!
The Ka Stone is also insanely powerful: it granted its wielder, the Sphinx, immortality, telepathy, flight, super-strength, incredible durability and the ability to grow to giantlike proportions. On top of that, the Ka Stone can be used to manipulate matter, rearranging the world at a molecular level in order to build, modify or destroy. It can even warp reality on a massive scale, controlling time and influencing the actions of beings in other realities. Oh, and it can help the user sustain themselves in space, just in case all that power wasn’t enough. Moral of the story? Don’t mess with the Egyptians!
2 Eye of Agamotto
Thanks in part to Marvel’s latest cinematic contribution to the MCU, “Doctor Strange,” fans are now very familiar with the Eye of Agamotto, the powerful magical force encased within an amulet that allows the Sorcerer Supreme to amplify and channel his powers. What many people aren’t so clear on is where the Eye came from and what it can actually do. CBR is here to help.
Otherwise known as the All-Seeing Eye, it is one of three “Eyes” created or discovered by the omniscient magical being, Agamotto… the lore’s a little vague on the Eye’s origins, though, truth be told. The holder of the amulet is granted mind-boggling powers: the Eye dispels all disguises and illusions by casting its mystical light (because there had to be a metaphor for enlightenment in there somewhere; we have Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s love of ‘60s psychedelia to thank for that). It also allows its user to see into the past and future, probe the minds of other beings, project mystical defense barriers and create portals to other dimensions. And that’s not even the half of it!
The only catch with the Eye of Agamotto, really, is that you must be “pure of heart” to wield it, meaning most mortals just wouldn’t make the grade.
1 The Darkhold
We know what you’re thinking… it’s just a book, right? Well, don't forget that sometimes, knowledge is the ultimate power. The Darkhold, otherwise known as the Book of Sins, is one of the most significant magical artifacts in the Marvel Universe, as it contains nothing less than the sum of all dark magical knowledge.
It was written eons ago on indestructible parchment by the Elder God, Chthon, and has appeared in numerous comics over the years in the hands of Morgan Le Fay, Aelfric the Mad Monk, Cagliostro, Taboo, Gregor Russoff and Doctor Strange, among others. It even has its own cult, complete with a demonic dwarf who persuades the power-hungry to swap a page from the Book in exchange for their immortal soul!
So what can it do? Raise the dead? Check. Open portals to other dimensions? Check. Create and kill vampires and werewolves? Check. Break time open like an egg? Double check. Basically, any kind of dark magic you can imagine, this book tells you how it’s done. In fact, it might be easier to list what it can’t do. No wonder bad guys have been sacrificing their souls for it since the Pre-Cataclysmic Era!
Are there any ancient magical artifacts you think should’ve made the list? Let us know in the comments!