I am the One Above All. I see through many eyes. I build with many hands. They are themselves, but they are also me. I am all-powerful. My only weapon is love. The mystery intrigues me.
— One Above All
Greetings from a beautiful island fellow CBSI members.
What a change of weather here in Maui! The Kaanapali Villas to be exact. Exploring this island got me thinking about the beauties of Earth. How and where do things like this come from. In addition, I realized it was important to bookend last week’s talk of Celestials with this piece to examine a dichotomy within the Marvel levels of power.
I will start with this, what is the definition of God? The dictionary states “It’s the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority”. Alright, how you personally envision a higher power will differ for many depending on a lot factors.
Historically, we know people of all different race, creed, and color acknowledge some type God. However, this unfortunately has created some type of conflict throughout time around the world.
Ironically, this is mirrored within the Marvel universe. Last time we spoke to the Celestials, and their belief in which they play God. This week we will finish this with really who is God, and a few others of the highest power.
Within the comic realm of Marvel, there is indeed a checks and balances system that keeps things for the most part in order, without too much chaos. Also, for the intents and purposes of this article we are learning about the two highest powers.
The Living Tribunal and The One Above All (TOAA). I do realize there is Eternity /The Beyonder / The Beyonders, etc. however we are sticking to the hierarchy originally created for this exercise. So, time to dive into and look at both of these more in depth shall we?
The Living Tribunal is considered 2nd in command and was created by The One Above All. Okay, so let’s break this down in its simplest form, shedding the complexity. In issue Strange Tales # 157 we get our 1st cameo of The Living Tribunal and 1st full in Strange Tales # 158. However, issues 156-159 encompass this overall important arch.
The setup is this: Dr. Strange meets a foe Umar the Unmentionable, and he realizes very quickly he has met his match. Long story short, when he can’t beat him on his own he releases a mythical creature Zom. With this, the Living Tribunal appears to get rid of this beast.
Now, with these actions by Dr Strange, The Living Tribunal states he has upset the cosmic balance. Ok big deal, so what? Let’s see it play out on panel, then will will look deeper.
There is nothing like that old Silver Age art is there? The best way to explain The Living Tribunal is to say he is a lot like The Celestials in which he is Judge, Jury, and Executioner. He is part of the Multiverse, so not just one universe with this his power is infinite. Let’s look at him more closely.
He has three faces. Each represent something different, and all three have to be in agreement on a judgement to be passed. Huh? OK, the first face, the one that can be fully seen is the Face of Equity, this pertains to be just or unbiased.
The second face is Face of Revenge. It seeks out to judge those who have intentionally tried to upset the cosmic balance.
The third face completely covered is the face of necessity. It represents something need to be done about a particular action. Look at the above panel again if need be, there as some explanation as well.
Alright makes some sense I guess?
As a reminder all three faces need to agree. If this occurs a judgement is passed out on that particular act at any cost. I highly suggest reading that above arch mentioned as you see Dr. Strange plead with The Living Tribunal not to destroy earth because of his actions – great stuff!
Once again, he only appears when there is deemed a “Cosmic Imbalance”. This can be better explained in depth too in Silver Surfer Vol. 3 # 31.
Finally, in She Hulk Vol. 2 # 12 we get a 1st mention of 4th face, which is the Face of a Mirror. It is used to reflect that particular person in a mirror, reminding them to always judge others as they would want to be judged.
Here are the three if you go digging:
Again, there is a lot more appearances, etc. to look at and digest. However, I wanted to keep it at its simplest form so all readers would enjoy this piece. In conclusion, will we ever see The Living Tribunal in film form? Who knows, but he is a fascinating character with powers beyond this universe.
He is absolute in his decisions and they are carried out. He certainly has been around a long time – from the Mid 1960s until now. Small trivia – for those who remember, he played a part in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline. If Marvel is indeed going to revisit the Cosmic Universe again, a good place to start is with him!
Okay so someone or something created The Living Tribunal to carry out actions right? Who would have that ability? That power? Yep, you guessed it, the only one that could – The One Above All (TOAA).
He is 1st mentioned in Dr Strange Vol 2 # 13. Cliffsnotes version to set the reveal is this: Eternity (Cosmic entity), trapped by Nightmare ( Big Dr Strange nemesis) in another dimension. When he is successfully freed from a capsule he was placed in, Eternity goes on this ramble about he is the one Eternity from this dimension.
In turn each dimension has an Eternity, but God is sees over all the multiverses. What? Perhaps in panel, it becomes more clear. In speaking he states “Neither he nor I am God, for God rules all realities”.
Then continues to speak about evolution. Man, this Cosmic stuff gets you thinking!
Now, let’s move forward to another key moment in TOAA lore some 20 years later to Warlock and the Infinity Watch # 1. If you remember Adam Warlock was standing trial with The Living Tribunal and other cosmic entities for his actions in the Infinity Gauntlet. With all the stress put on him, Adam goes nuts and tries to use the power of the Infinity Gauntlet to attack everyone.
This is where it gets good, The Living Tribunal snaps his fingers on all of Adam’s powers go away. This shows the power of The Living Tribunal even with weapons that could eradicate universes. Wait what snaps fingers and things disappear within the Marvel Universe? Hmmmm, sounds oddly familiar doesn’t it?
Alright, with these actions and Adam’s amazement at just how small he is on the proverbial totem pole, The Living Tribunal declares he is not the end all be all. There is someone above him.
Ok so he goes crazy, then fingers snap, resulting in him letting Adam his powers even with the Infinity Gauntlet mean nothing? “I represent forces that dwarf even your might” Dam, stuff just got real!
*As note the 2nd issue of Warlock and the Infinity Watch gives us the 1st time he is referred to as The One Who is Above All. I don’t want to spoil this series, or previous one – This panel will do that so will leave up for you to look up.
Ok, moving right along we will look at Fantastic Four Vol 1 # 511. In this storyline, again trying not to spoil, the Fantastic 4 travel to heaven searching for Ben Grimm. The end up in TOAA’s door, upon entering in a cool twist they in this story line they reveal TOAA is Jack Kirby!
Was Mr Kirby TOAA due to his creation of many of these characters within Marvel? Interesting analogy / parallel brought up with this. Yes, this is done sort of tongue in cheek, but nevertheless entertaining!
Yep, panel time…
Ok, finally we come to the issue that actually brings the TOAA to earth in human form. It is an exchange, or moral lesson of sorts he has with Spider-Man that IMO is amazing. How this book is so under the radar is beyond me. Wait, maybe I should not have set that.
Anyways, Sensational Spider-Man # 40?! Now I really don’t want to spoil this because it is so good, so I will just put a view brief panels to get the vibe of it. This is highly recommended!
Amazing stuff huh? Well that’s it for this week. I hope this bookend helps further understand just what is – Out There on the Empyrean Trail. There is so many iconic Marvel characters on the ground, yet as Buddy Holly likes to say “Relax man, Everything’s cool. Besides, the sky belongs to the stars”.
Are the true stars up in that sky. This infinite space upstairs where man has really yet to travel in with any consistency? You make the call. It does make a great debate for sometime down the road.
Finally, at some point I will revisit this universe again. In fact, if there are topics you would like me to discuss, dissect, analyze to the Nth degree, reach out. Also with any additional questions you may have, thanks to Ben, I can now be reached on email.
Feel free to send something anytime!
Now back to the sand, suds, and digging a little bit in a LCS recommended by Mr. Leggitt here in paradise. Oh sh*t, maybe I should not blow up this Honey Hole…