|First appearance||Strange Tales #138 (Nov. 1965)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Abilities||Total control over magic, matter, energy, reality and time
Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character has appeared in four decades of Marvel continuity and appeared in associated Marvel merchandise including animated television series; trading cards and video games.
Eternity debuted in an epic 17-issue storyline in the ongoing feature "Doctor Strange" in Strange Tales #130-146 (March 1965 - July 1966). The character was first mentioned in the 10-page story "Earth Be My Battleground" in Strange Tales #134 (July 1965), and first seen in the 10-page story "If Eternity Should Fail" in Strange Tales #138 (Nov. 1965).
Following the publication's retitling as Doctor Strange, the character returned in issues #180-182 (May-July 1969), and thereafter continued to appear in stories that were cosmic in scope, including in Doctor Strange vol. 2, #10-13 (Oct. 1974 - April 1975); Defenders #92 (Feb. 1981); and a story by writer-artist John Byrne in Fantastic Four #262 (Jan. 1984) that attracted controversy. At the conclusion of that story, Eternity validated the existence of another cosmic character, Galactus. Howard University Professor of Literature Marc Singer stated Byrne used the character Eternity as a means to "justify planetary-scale genocide."
Eternity guest starred in Secret Wars II #6-7 (Dec. 1984 - Jan. 1985); Silver Surfer vol. 3, #6 & 10 (Dec. 1987, April 1988) and with Marvel's cosmic hierarchy in the limited series Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 (July-Dec. 1991), and in its sequel, Infinity War #1-6 (June-Nov. 1992). The character played a pivotal role in limited series Avengers Infinity #1-4 (Sept.-Dec. 2000). Major revelations about the character appeared in a storyline in Quasar #19-25 (Feb.-Aug. 1991). Other appearances, again in storylines that featured a cosmic theme, included Infinity Abyss #1-6 (Aug.-Oct. 2002); and Defenders vol. 3, #1-5 (Sept. 2005 - Jan. 2006).
Fictional character biography
Eternity is first encountered by Doctor Strange, who seeks the entity out when his master the Ancient One is attacked by former pupil Baron Mordo. After a series of battles with Mordo and his minions, and discovering that arch-foe Dormammu is secretly backing Mordo, Strange finds and speaks with Eternity. The entity advises Strange that he is capable of defeating his foes without aid, and Strange wins a duel with Dormammu (who is ultimately defeated by Eternity) and thwarts an attempt at sabotage in his Sanctum Sanctorum.
On New Year's Eve, the entity is kidnapped by Doctor Strange's foe Nightmare, who after causing time distortions that allow beings such as dinosaurs and barbarians to appear in New York City, appears before Strange and his aide and sometime lover Clea. Nightmare challenges the mystic to attempt to rescue Eternity, and after accepting, Strange enters Nightmare's Dream World. After an extended series of battles and a temporary defeat, Strange successfully recruits the X-Men foe the Juggernaut to stop Nightmare from merging his realm with Earth, and together they free Eternity. The entity then banishes Nightmare while Doctor Strange and the Juggernaut restore reality.
Eternity is also summoned to the trial of Fantastic Four member Mister Fantastic, who is accused of saving the life of fellow cosmic entity Galactus. Eternity allows all present to momentarily possess "cosmic awareness", thereby allowing them to understand that Galactus is a vital part of the universe, despite the continued extinction of entire species.
During a series of extended battles between cosmic hero Quasar and the villain Maelstrom (the avatar of the entity Oblivion), Eternity is revealed to have a "twin" entity - Infinity, with the pair representing the space-time continuum and the living force of the universe.
The character appears with the entire cosmic hierarchy (eventually revealed to be "retconned" into an avatar of the entity) during an encounter with the entity the Beyonder; consults with fellow entity Galactus when the Elders of the Universe plan to destroy the latter (to initiate a new Big Bang and restart the universe).
Abraxas was imprisoned inside Eternity and was released when Galactus died.
Together with the cosmic hierarchy Eternity opposes the Eternal Thanos when the villain wields the Infinity Gauntlet, although they are all eventually defeated. Once Thanos is eventually dispatched (courtesy of his own carelessness), Eternity unsuccessfully advises fellow cosmic entity the Living Tribunal against allowing the Infinity Gems to be used in conjunction. Eternity develops animosity towards the artificial being Adam Warlock, who the entity encounters on several occasions.
Eternity also "spawned" several "children", or concepts that became separate, independent entities: Empathy; Eulogy; Expediency; Entropy; Epiphany; Enmity and Eon (Eon is eventually killed and replaced in turn by the concept Epoch).
Eternity is imprisoned by the Magus (the evil alter ego of Adam Warlock) who attempts to reunite the Infinity Gems for his own use. The villain is eventually defeated when Eternity merges with Infinity and together they strip the Magus of his newfound power.
Eternity is also summoned by a contingent of superhero team the Avengers to reason with the cosmic entities the Infinites, and observes the attempts of Thanos and several of Earth's heroes to defeat several of his clones, who are dedicated to destroying the universe, and in turn Eternity itself.
Eternity is one of the last beings (together with the Living Tribunal and Infinity) to be overcome by Thanos when he uses the artifact the Heart of the Universe to undo the universe and then remake it minus a fatal flaw. The character is also affected by the machinations of the villain Krona when the latter engineers a merging of the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe.
The entity's power is stolen by Dormammu and his sister Umar to remake the universe in their image. The pair are opposed by a reuniting of three of the original Defenders (Strange; the Hulk and Namor the Sub-Mariner), with Umar betraying Dormammu and then being defeated in turn. Eternity's power returns to him and reality is restored.
When an alien race's experiments in eternal universal observation cause damage to Eternity, he is narrowly saved by the actions of the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Storm, Gravity and the Silver Surfer. Strange uses Gravity as a 'scalpel' based on his gravity-wielding powers to cut out the damaged portions while Storm serves as a temporary host to Eternity's consciousness as the other heroes hold back the universe's 'antibodies' as they try to attack the perceived cause of the damage.
In the "Dark Reign" storyline, Eternity grants Henry Pym the title of Scientist Supreme, a scientific counterpart to the mystical title Sorcerer Supreme, as he is able to create science with effects similar to magic. However, Loki later claims to have been posing as Eternity in order to trick Pym.
During the Chaos War storyline, Eternity is summoned by Hercules to deal with Amatsu-Mikaboshi. However, Eternity tells Hercules that fighting the Chaos God will be like fighting an aspect of Eternity himself. Eternity remains confident that Hercules and his comrades will find a way to win.
Powers and abilities
As a tremendously powerful abstract entity, Eternity has no physical body but exists everywhere simultaneously. The entity can manipulate the universe to achieve essentially any desired effect, and as its name suggests, it is immortal and unaffected by the passage of time. Eternity can warp space and matter into a manifestation that can be perceived by lesser beings, or form avatars from another plane of existence known as the Dimension of Manifestations. On occasion it manifests by possessing the body of exceptionally spiritually strong mortal beings (e.g. Doctor Strange, Thor, Storm).
In other media
- Eternity makes a cameo appearance in the episode "Dark Phoenix" of the television series X-Men TV series.
- Eternity appears semi-regularly as an observer in the Silver Surfer TV series voiced by John Neville. The entity is explicitly referred to as male and is the brother of Infinity.
- Strange Tales #146 at the Grand Comics Database: "Indexer Notes: Part 17 of 17"
- Strange Tales #134 at the Grand Comics Database: "Indexer Notes: Part 5 of 17. First mention of Eternity. Strange would finally find it in STRANGE TALES #138 (November 1965)"
- "Byrne's Fantastic Four"
- Strange Tales #130-146 (March 1965 - July 1966)
- Doctor Strange #180 - 182 (May - July 1969)
- Defenders #92 (Feb. 1981)
- Fantastic Four #262 (Jan. 1984)
- Quasar #19 - 25 (Feb. - Aug. 1991)
- Quasar #37 (Aug. 1992)
- Secret Wars II #6-7 (Dec.-Jan. 1985)
- Silver Surfer vol. 3, #6 (Dec. 1987) & #10 (Apr. 1988)
- Infinity Gauntlet #1 - 6 (July - Dec. 1991)
- Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1 (Feb. 1992)
- Warlock and the Infinity Watch #9 (Oct. 1992); #11 (Dec. 1992); #14 - 15 (March-April 1993); #19 - 20 (Aug.-Sept. 1993)
- Quasar #38 (Sep. 1992)
- Infinity War #1-6 (June-Nov. 1992)
- Avengers Infinity #1 - 4 (Sep. - Dec. 2000)
- Infinity Abyss #1 - 2 (Aug. 2002); #3 - 4 (Sep. 2002); #5 - 6 (Oct. 2002)
- Marvel: The End #1-2 (May 2003); #3-4 (June 2003) & #5 (July 2003) & #6 (Aug. 2003)
- JLA/Avengers #1 (Sept. 2003) & 3 (Dec. 2003); Avengers/JLA #2 (Oct. 2003) & 4 (May 2004)
- Defenders vol. 3, #1 - 5 (Sep. 2005 - Jan. 2006)
- Fantastic Four #550 (2007)
- Mighty Avengers #30 (Dec. 2009)
- Mighty Avengers #34
- Chaos War #2 (Oct. 2010)
- Thanos Annual #1 (2014)
- Silver Surfer at TV.com