Living Tribunal

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Living Tribunal
The Living Tribunal.
Art by Jim Starlin.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance (Cameo) Strange Tales #157 (June, 1967)
Created by Stan Lee
Marie Severin
Herb Trimpe
In-story information
Abilities Nigh Omnipotence,

The Living Tribunal is a fictional character that appears in 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.

Publication history[edit]

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[edit]

The Living Tribunal is an omnipotent entity that oversees and maintains balance in the realities that constitute the Marvel Comics Multiverse, including the mainstream universe and all alternate universes.

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.[1] The Tribunal reappears to the Galadorian spaceknight Rom;[2] appears briefly with the rest of the cosmic hierarchy when in discussion with the entity the Beyonder;[3] 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).[4] 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.[4] 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.[5]

The Living Tribunal's power is virtually limitless, as the entity prevents the Infinity Gems from being used in unison,[6] although it remains subservient to a single, even higher entity: The One-Above-All.[7] 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."[8]

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.[9]

Powers and abilities[edit]

The Living Tribunal possesses virtually unlimited power and absolute control over the Marvel Multiverse.

Thanos wielding the Infinity Gauntlet ranked the Tribunal's power as the highest in Marvel's regular multiversal hierarchy.[10]

Other media[edit]

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 universes. Their pact created the Amalgam Universe by merging the two universes with the help of Access in order to "buy some time".[11] As the new Amalgam Universe was unstable, the former universes are restored but the struggle of "The Brothers" continued until the efforts of Batman and Captain America against them, make them realize they both "Did Well" and the universes are spared.[12]


  1. ^ Strange Tales #157 - 163 (Jun. - Dec. 1967)
  2. ^ Rom #41 (April 1983)
  3. ^ Secret Wars II #6 (Dec. 1985)
  4. ^ a b Silver Surfer vol. 3, #31 (Dec. 1989)
  5. ^ Quasar #26 (Sep. 1991)
  6. ^ Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1 (Feb. 1992)
  7. ^ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Hardcover Vol. 6
  8. ^ She-Hulk vol. 2, #12 (Nov. 2006)
  9. ^ New Avengers (vol. 3) #8 (July 2013)
  10. ^ Thanos Annual #1 (2014)
  11. ^ Marvel vs. DC #3
  12. ^ DC vs. Marvel #4

External links[edit]