|Meeting of the Cosmic Minds|
Marvel's cosmic entity hierarchy is in many ways a complex web and in others a complete mess, as the pic to the right should indicate (and not every entity is present), with entities introduced almost at random during the '60s through early '90s. The only constant appears to be the visuals based on those originally drawn by Jack "King" Kirby in the '60s. Back then we were introduced to Galactus, the Watchers, and the Stranger as "corporeal" cosmic entities, along with Eternity and the Living Tribunal an ethereal ones. The '70s gave us the In-Betweener, Death, the Deathurge, Eon, and the Celestials. The '80s introduced Master Order and Lord Chaosas ethereal entities who were "revealed" (read: retconned) to being responsible for the In-Betweener; the late '80s also gave us the oft-forgotten Numinus (who looked like Whoopi Goldberg cosplaying as Galactus). The '90s introduced Infinity, the temporal counterpart to Eternity, and replaced Eon with her child Epoch (though I believe that was later reversed, going by the pic above). And then there are things like the Phoenix Force that have undergone major retcons over the years, an ever-increasing number of Cosmic Cubes, and the Beyonder (the prototype for the ever-increasing number of "things will never be the same" company-wide crossovers).
And don't get me started on the evolution of the Infinity Gems.
So, as you can see, I had a lot to work with, and not all of it makes sense or plays well together.
The main thing I needed to do was figure out who to keep and who to toss. But to do that, I needed to make a full list and define their areas of authority, not to mention how they interact with each other.
Marvel's Cosmic Entities
As far as I know, Marvel's cosmic entities are:
- the Living Tribunal, the ultimate multiversal cosmic judge, and for my purposes the one responsible (from an in-universe perspective) for the Reboot.
- Eternity, the embodiment of the physical nature of the universe.
- Infinity, the embodiment of the temporal nature of the universe.
- Death, embodiment of the end of all things.
- Eon, champion of life, selector/mentor to the chosen Protector of the Universe.
- Master Order, embodiment of the laws of physics.
- Lord Chaos, embodiment of random chance.
- Master Hate, embodiment of "negative" emotions.
- Mistress Love, embodiment of "positive" emotions.
- In-Betweener, embodiment of the balance between Order and Chaos, and between Love and Hate, among other opposites.
- Deathurge, embodiment of the desire to give up and commit suicide.
- Numinus, embodiment of the "never give up" attitude and invoker of a sense of wonder.
- the Phoenix Force, embodiment of passion and the cycle of destruction and renewal.
- Galactus, the world devourer who feeds on the life forces of planets, acts as a balance between Eternity and Death.
- the Celestials, an ancient race of giants who experiment on a species' genetics and then return thousands of years later to judge the results; will also tend to judge any other entity below them that catches their attention.
- the Watchers, mostly-silent observers of events, significant or otherwise.
- the Stranger, an enigmatic giant who may be an agent of the Celestials, given that he engages in many scientific experiments for the sake of science.
- Cosmic Cubes, along with their 'evolved' forms the Shaper of Worlds, Kubik, Kosmos, and others; the Cubes are 'infant' cosmic entities that respond to the thoughts and desires of those holding them, able to reshape reality on a planetary scale. The evolved forms are free-willed.
- Infinity Gems; not 'entities' in the strictest sense, but items of cosmic power that can make their owners major players on the cosmic scale.
Power Modifiers: Power Cosmic
Going by the multi-tier breakdown in GURPS Powers for the Cosmic power modifier, which in the Reboot I'm calling "Power Cosmic*" to differentiate it from the other uses of the Cosmic modifer, the percentages end up as such:
* I sometimes find myself calling it the "Power Kirby", thanks to my alt.comics.lnh and rec.arts.comics.creative days of the mid '90s
Tier 1 Power Cosmic (+50%): The Living Tribunal, the Quesada.
Tier 2 Power Cosmic (+40%): Eternity, Infinity, Death, the Phoenix Force.
Tier 3 Power Cosmic (+30%): Eon, Master Order, Lord Chaos, Master Hate, Mistress Love, In-Betweener.
Tier 4 Power Cosmic (+20%): Cosmic Cubes, Galactus, Celestials.
Tier 5 Power Cosmic (+10%): Zeus, Odin, other heads of deific pantheons, Galactus's Heralds (most notably Silver Surfer), the Watcher, the Stranger.
Of these, I'll likely only give stats to the lower two tiers, as they are corporeal and more easily defined. I placed the Phoenix Force as a multiversal Tier 2 since I'm playing with the idea that the Phoenix Force of one timeline is the same as all the others, hence her protectiveness of Rachel, her sole surviving daughter.
You caught that, did you? :)
As part of the Reboot background, I created a malevolent cosmic entity that threatened the Marvel Multiverse, which I named after Joe Quesada, the former Editor-in-Chief and current Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Comics, who is responsible for such things as "One More Day" (Spider-Man selling his marriage and happiness to Mephisto to save Aunt May's life even when she was ready to die). Quesada was one of the most hated men by the fandom ten years ago when I started the Reboot and is still held in contempt today. I thought it was a nice "take that!" at the man, naming an entity that will appear mostly "off-camera" in exposition as causing such chaos and problems that the Living Tribunal was forced to remove most of the related timelines to prevent the destruction of the multiverse after him.
The Infinity Gems
So where are the Infinity Gems in the above Power Cosmic schema? As of right now - and please note that this is not set in stone - the Gems individually are Tier 5 Power Cosmic power objects, though when two or three are used together it bumps them up to Tier 4; all six together - ala the Infinity Gauntlet - I'm not sure if they'd be Tier 3 or Tier 2; I do not want to put them at Tier 1, as they are universal cosmic power objects rather than multiversal ones.
Speaking of Thanos, I need to figure out if the Mad Titanian is himself Tier 5 or Tier 4, though at present I'm leaning towards Tier 5.
Acute readers will note that I left off some known characters of a more mystical beat that could possibly interact with cosmic entities on their own level: Cytorrak, Aggamoto, Gaea, Chthon, Set, Mephisto, etc. I'll be touching upon the more mystical aspects of the Marvel Reboot in a few weeks as I hammer it out more.