Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cosmic Cognizance: The Living Tribunal!

Welcome back my favorite four-color fanatics! I have a new Cosmic Cognizance character to captivate your craniums! ...whew, I think I almost over alliterated there.

Ok, so today I have decided to talk about the the biggest of the big, the most powerful of the powerful. No other being, save one he himself has only ever hinted to, holds as much power over the whole of the Marvel multi-verse. I give unto you...

First appearing in Strange Tales #157 in 1967 he revealed himself to Dr. Strange and threatened to destroy Earth unless Strange was able to prove to him that earth was capable of more than just evil. Pretty standard comic book fare really and a bit of an overused Stan Lee plot device, but eventually the character was elevated far above his origins.

Today he is the law of all that is. His word and decisions ultimately dictate reality and not just the main Marvel Universe (aka 616) but for the entirety of the multi-verse. His rulings and powers are able to literally chance the laws of physics. The Tribunal, for example, even declared that the all powerful Infinity Gems were no longer allowed to work in unison. He was able to be captured by Thanos while Thanos possessed the Infinity Gauntlet, along with just about all of the universe's gods and abstract concepts (most of which will eventually be spotlighted in other CC posts), but Adam Warlock bowed to his judgement when Adam briefly held the Gauntlet, recognizing the Tribunal's ultimate authority in the universe, despite actually being more powerful than the Tribunal at the time.

The three faces of the Living Tribunal represent Equity, Vengeance and Necessity, respectively (I believe that means from left to right in the image). The few times the Living Tribunal has chosen to reveal his covered face to someone, it is always reflection of that character's own face. The face is a "Cosmic Mirror which reminds us to always judge others as we would have ourselves judged."

The Tribunal has hinted that there is One that even he serves. I suspect that this "One" is a fourth-wall breaker. In a Fantastic Four story (FF #511) they manage to get to meet God, who happens to be sitting at a drawing board and speaks and looks exactly like Jack Kirby!

If this is truly who the Living Tribunal is referencing, then I can imagine no greater God to watch over the Marvel U.


  1. I had never heard of him before reading this post. So if he is the law in the Marvel Universe, how often does he show up? Is he like Utu the Watcher who is bound not to interfere but constantly does so? I need answers man!

  2. That's a damn good question and I should have made it clear in my post!

    The Living Tribunal generally only appears at events of immense magnitude, so things that affect the entire universe and he dispenses judgement as needed to keep things in some kind of balance, where as Uatu tends to interfere in more Earthly matters.

  3. You could probably count on 2 hands the Tribunal's appearances....unless you're Nightcrawler. Then you might be in trouble.
    And I think the Tribunal may have hinted at this One in something else besides the FF issue you cite. Maybe a storyline in Quasar? I'll have to let you know.

    And you can never over alliterate, my friend!

  4. I know the Tribunal cited the One above him long before FF #511 came out, but I thought the two ideas melded nicely together.

  5. what are the cosmic laws not to be broke?

  6. The specific laws have never been revealed, to my knowledge. I imagine that anything that would hurt time and Infinity itself would be problematic.