The Living Tribunal.
Art by Jim Starlin.
|First appearance||Strange Tales #157 (June 1967)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
The Living Tribunal is a fictional cosmic entity appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Strange Tales #157 June 1967 (cameo - first full appearance next issue) and was created by Stan Lee, Marie Severin, and Herb Trimpe.
The Living Tribunal debuted in a storyline called "The Sands of Death" in Strange Tales #157 - 163 (June - Dec. 1967), giving mystic hero Doctor Strange a limited time to prove Earth is worth saving. Established as apparently the supreme power in the Marvel Universe, the character made several sporadic appearances over the years, including What If #32 (April 1982); Rom #41 (April 1983) and Secret Wars II #6 (Dec. 1985). The Living Tribunal revealed clues as to its true purpose and nature in Silver Surfer vol. 3, #31 (Dec. 1989).
After brief appearances in the role of observer in Guardians of the Galaxy #16 (Sep. 1991) and Quasar #26 (Sep. 1991), the character had a significant role in the limited series Infinity Gauntlet #1 - 6 (July - Dec. 1991) and Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1 (Feb. 1992). The Living Tribunal's role was eventually expanded on in She-Hulk vol. 2, #12 (Nov. 2006).
Fictional character biography
The Living Tribunal is a nearly omnipotent entity that oversees and maintains balance in the realities that constitute the Marvel Comics Multiverse, including the mainstream universe and all alternate universes. He serves as a judge of these realities.
The character is first encountered by Doctor Strange, announcing its intent to destroy Earth due to its potential for evil. After a series of trials Strange is able to convince the Living Tribunal that good also exists, and Earth is spared. The Tribunal reappears to the Galadorian spaceknight Rom; appears briefly with the rest of the cosmic hierarchy when in discussion with the entity the Beyonder; and reveals to the former Herald of Galactus (the Silver Surfer) that its three faces represent "Equity" (hooded face), "Vengeance" (partially shrouded face), and "Necessity" (fully shrouded face). The fourth side of the Living Tribunal's head is a void, with the entity claiming that it could have represented the face of the cosmic entity the Stranger. The character also witnesses the triumph of the hero Quasar - acting as the avatar of cosmic entity Infinity - over the villain Maelstrom, who acts for the entity Oblivion.
The Living Tribunal's power is virtually limitless, as the entity prevents the Infinity Gems from being used in unison, although it remains subservient to a single, even higher entity referred to as "The One Above All. The entity has representatives called The Magistrati who dispense judgments by request on alien worlds, and chose to reveal the previously unseen face of "Necessity" to She-Hulk as a reflection of her own face, stating that the face is a "Cosmic Mirror which reminds us to always judge others as we would have ourselves judged."
Iron Man and the Watcher later find what appears to be the Living Tribunal's withered corpse on the moon, with no sign of who killed the entity. When Yellowjacket ventured into the Multiverse, the cause of his death was discovered. The Living Tribunal had died fighting the Beyonders while attempting to halt the annihilation of the Marvel Multiverse.
Powers and abilities
The Living Tribunal was the embodiment of the Marvel Multiverse.
Thanos wielding the Infinity Gauntlet ranked the Tribunal's power as the highest in Marvel's regular multiversal hierarchy. However, the Tribunal has also referred to higher entities that vastly eclipse its own power, and was killed by the Beyonders.
Until a few years after the second Secret Wars, the Living Tribunal was kept on a level of power in which it could easily detonate stars, and that was it. It was first over two decades past the character's introduction that it was retroactively remodelled to possess an at least 16-dimensional, high infinite scale of power.
During DC vs. Marvel/Marvel vs. DC, the Tribunal teamed up with the Spectre to save their worlds from the two cosmic brothers' attempts to destroy one of the two multiverses. Their pact, with the help of Access, created the Amalgam multiverse by merging the two multiverses, in order to "buy some time". As the new Amalgam multiverse was unstable, the former multiverses are restored. The struggle of "The Brothers" continues until the efforts of Batman and Captain America against them make them realize they both "Did Well", and the multiverses are spared.
- Strange Tales #157 - 163 (Jun. - Dec. 1967)
- Rom #41 (April 1983)
- Secret Wars II #6 (Dec. 1985)
- Silver Surfer vol. 3, #31 (Dec. 1989)
- Quasar #26 (Sep. 1991)
- Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1 (Feb. 1992)
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Hardcover Vol. 6
- She-Hulk vol. 2, #12 (Nov. 2006)
- New Avengers vol. 3 #8 (July 2013)
- New Avengers vol. 3 #30 (April 2015)
- Thanos Annual #1 (2014)
- Thanos: The Infinity Revelation #1 (August 2014)
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol.2 #7 (June, 1986)
- Fantastic Four Annual Vol.1 #27 (1994)
- Marvel vs. DC #3
- DC vs. Marvel #4
- Living Tribunal at Marvel.com