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|First appearance||Eternals #2 (July 1976)|
|Created by||Jack Kirby|
|Place of origin||Unknown|
|Inherent abilities||Capable of virtually any effect|
Immensely powerful and of huge humanoid shape, the Celestials are some of the oldest entities in the Marvel Comics universe. They debuted in the Bronze Age of Comic Books and have appeared in Marvel publications for four decades. They also appear in various forms of merchandise such as trading cards.
The Celestials debuted in Eternals #1 (July 1976) and were created by writer-artist Jack Kirby. They reappeared as regular guest stars in three subsequent limited series sequels: Eternals vol. 2, #1–12 (October 1985 – September 1986), Eternals vol. 3, #1–7 (August 2006 – February 2007), and Eternals vol. 4, #1–9 (August 2008 – May 2009).
The characters have also been featured in other titles, including the "Celestial Saga" storyline in Thor Annual #7 (1978), Thor #283 – 300 (May 1979 – October 1980), Thor #387–389 (January–March 1988), Quasar #24 (July 1991), Fantastic Four #400 (May 1995), X-Factor #43–46 (August–November 1989) and #48–50 (December 1989 × 2 – January 1990). The first detailed account of the Celestials' origin was finally presented in Ultimates 2 #6 (2017).
The origin of the Celestials has long been unknown, with many species across the mainstream Marvel universe having legends of their beginning, none of which have been validated. There have been major revelations about the origin and nature of the Celestials by the mysterious cosmic entity called the Queen of Nevers.
At the beginning of creation itself, countless billions of years ago, before the modern Cosmic Order, creation was composed of a single sentient universe whose omnipotent intelligence was referred to as The First Firmament. For countless ages, the First Firmament was the sole being in creation-until its loneliness became unbearable. It decided to create the first life in Creation to give it companions as well as servants-an act it later came to regret. These servants were cosmic beings of a lesser order of power. They were of two kinds: Black humanoid entities who dutifully obeyed and worshiped their creator. They created their own servants and sought to preserve the simple order their creator had made complete and unchanging for all time. The Firmament named these loyal beings Aspirants and was very pleased by their goals and desire to maintain the status quo of its reign. However, the Firmament also created another group of multicolored humanoid entities whom it considered "rebels" who had completely different values and desires from the Aspirants. The rebels wanted a dynamic, diverse and evolving Reality where beings lived, learned, reproduced, aged and died in order to improve themselves slowly through evolution. The rebels wanted this with the ultimate long term goal of producing superior cosmic beings with the power to create universes of their own and for the universe to evolve with them as they advanced towards that state. These were the beings whom one day would be called by lesser life forms The Celestials.
The two opposing factions of the First Firmament's children could not peacefully co-exist and eventually came to a war with each other that nearly destroyed the first universe. At some point during the war, the Aspirants created a now-lost hyper weapon called the Godkiller, a space-borne 25,000 foot (7,600 m) tall humanoid robot that dwarfed even the Celestials themselves. It was powered by a cosmic artifact later called the Heart of The Voldi (named after the species which would eventually adopt it) and operated by genetically engineered pilots. During the war, the Godkiller destroyed countless billions of Celestials and brought them to the brink of extinction. At this point, for unknown reasons, a civil war broke out among the Aspirants that lead to the Godkiller being stripped of critical parts for weapons. This division within the Aspirants gave the Celestials a chance to recover and make their last stand. In the final battle against the Aspirants, the Celestials detonated their ultimate weapons that tore the Firmament apart and very nearly killed it. In a desperate act of self-preservation, the core essence of the First Firmament took the surviving Aspirants and fled outside Reality. In the wake of its near destruction, the major fragments of the First Universe that the weapons tore off coalesced into a new cosmic being, one with multiple realities comprising it: Eternity. This was the birth of the second creation, The First Multiverse. After the birth of the first Eternity, the "rebels" settled inside him, multiplied and began their vast plan to create and nurture transitory but evolving life on the newborn worlds within.
A general outline of the basic plan the Celestials follow for shaping the evolution of life on a chosen planet, which has been judged to possess the needed properties for an effective "seeding", has been documented on Earth and has been found on many other planets throughout the universe. Other major examples include the Skrull homeworld hundreds of millions of years ago and numerous Sh'iar worlds, such as Gladiator's homeworld. The Celestials first visit a chosen world after it develops primitive sentient life. This initial visit is called a First Host of Celestials. Collecting a number of natives, they then begin genetic experimentation that determines the future development of that species. They create three subspecies from the natives: Eternals, Deviants, and a majority "normal" strain that may or may not be modified in some manner that enhances its long term development. For example, the Celestials first visited Earth nearly a million years ago and implanted a special genetic code into the early hominids. This implanted DNA structure has been revealed to be not only the source of the ability of select random humans to develop superpowers upon exposure to dangerous environmental catalysts, it also allowed for the development of benevolent mutations that caused the existence of inborn potential superpowers in mutants.
The Celestials then return for follow-up visits or "Hosts" during which they monitor the subject planet's progress and make whatever modifications or interventions they deem appropriate. For example, approximately 21,000 years ago, the Celestials returned to Earth for the Second Host and found that the Deviants had created a vast empire across the world based on the continent of Lemuria, where they had conquered most of the primitive human tribes with their superior technology. They were also about to go to war with the original human inhabitants of the neighboring continent of Atlantis. The Celestials then destroyed Lemuria and sunk it under the ocean, utterly shattering the Deviants' empire and indirectly sinking Atlantis-therefore destroying both continents and reshaping the Earth.
Resenting the presence of the Celestials and their monitoring of Earth's progress, the Skyfather figures of Earth (i.e. Odin, Zeus) attempted to stop the Third Host, but were quickly outmatched. The Skyfathers then developed a convoluted plan to stop the Fourth Host via the use of the Odinsword and Destroyer armour, but once again the Celestials—although also opposed by Odin's son Thor—prevented the offensive and melted the Destroyer armour into slag, scattering the Asgardians' life forces. Thor threw the Odinsword through Arishem's chest, but he removed it, analyzed it, and then vaporized it. The Earthmothers (such as Frigga and Hera) of Earth, however, made an offering of twelve perfect humans, which was accepted and the planet was spared judgment. The judgment process was eventually witnessed by Thor, who observed Celestial Arishem the Judge sending an execution code to Exitar the Exterminator, a 20,000-foot (6,100 m) tall Celestial who carried out Arishem's "sentence". Exitar terraforms the planet in question into a garden paradise, with only the "evil" inhabitants having been destroyed. On one occasion, the hero Quasar observes a race completely failing the genetic test, with every living creature being destroyed with their planet.
The Celestials' actions conflicted with the policy of "non-interference" practiced by fellow cosmic entities the Watchers, with the two races becoming enemies. The Celestials and their "opposites", a group of entities known as the Horde, are established as instruments of an entity referred to as The Fulcrum, their purpose to be "instruments of the planting/creation/teeming of the universe".
A team of space adventurers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, find and use as a base the severed head of a Celestial floating in an area of space known as "The Rip". Dubbed "Knowhere", the structure also acts as a common port of call (complete with a market and bar) for travelers from all points in the space-time continuum. The base is administered by its chief of security, Cosmo, a telepathic and telekinetic Soviet space dog originally lost in Earth orbit in the 1960s. Courtesy of the deceased Celestial's "Continuum Cortex", travelers with special "passport" bracelets can teleport to any point in the universe instantaneously.
During the "Time Runs Out" storyline, the Beyonders are revealed to have killed all the Celestials in each reality across the multiverse. It remains a mystery why the Beyonders destroyed the Seventh Multiverse, eons before its time. However, a number of Celestials from across the multiverse survived taking shelter in the folds of space time. They were planning to reenter the Multiverse after it was reborn after the "Secret Wars" event.
The destruction of the Seventh and the rebirth of the Eighth Multiverse had an unforeseen consequence: it provided an opening for the embittered First Firmament, who had been patiently waiting Outside, to attack the newly reborn, and therefore greatly weakened, Eternity with the goal of destroying the multiverse and restoring itself to the center of creation. The Firmament first chained and then began infiltrating Eternity with both its loyal Aspirant agents and taking control over the lesser cosmic entities that protected the cosmic balance in its component universes. Under the Firmament's influence, Master Order and Lord Chaos destroyed the reborn Living Tribunal in front of Galactus the Lifebringer and then found their servant, The In-Betweener and forcibly merged into a new cosmic being many orders of magnitude of power greater that called itself Logos. Logos then located the surviving Celestials and destroyed all but one of them who was rescued by The Queen of Nevers.
Later Outside of Everything, The Queen of Nevers observes the last stand against the First Firmament and reveals the reason she had saved the One Above All. By using him as a seed, she rises the Celestials anew as her own Avatars of Possible in what she claims to be the Fifth Host. The True Celestials then face and defeat the Dark Celestials of the First Firmament.
- Arishem the Judge: A Celestial tasked with judging whether the civilization of a planet will live or die.
- Ashema the Listener: A female (though gender is likely academic to the race) Celestial tasked, along with Nezarr the Calculator, with retrieving Franklin Richards for evaluation as a new member of the Celestials.
- The Blue Celestial: The first Celestial whose birth is documented.
- The Celestial Gardener: A Celestial tasked with the maintenance of the Apocalypse entity on Earth.
- Devron the Experimenter: A young Celestial tasked with watching over Earth alongside Gamiel the Manipulator.
- The Dreaming Celestial: Originally known as Tiamut the Communicator; a renegade Celestial.
- Ea the Wise: An action figure sized Celestial Machine Man carries and treats as an "imaginary friend".
- Eson the Searcher: The Celestial tasked with "seeking".
- Exitar the Exterminator: A Celestial tasked with the destruction of life on worlds that fail the Celestials' tests.
- Gamiel the Manipulator: A young Celestial tasked with watching over Earth alongside Devron the Experimenter.
- Gammenon the Gatherer: A Celestial tasked with collecting samples of all life forms present on a planet during a Celestial Host.
- Hargen the Measurer: A Celestial tasked with measuring or quantifying the planets the Celestials survey.
- Jemiah the Analyzer: A Celestial tasked with analyzing life-form samples.
- Nezarr the Calculator: A Celestial who is a mathematician and possesses the ability to project illusions.
- The One Above All: The leader of the Celestials and temporarily marked as the last living Celestial.
- Oneg the Prober: A Celestial tasked with experimentation and implementation.
- The Red Celestial: The Celestial tasked with helping to birth the Blue Celestial.
- The Red/Blue Judge: The Celestial tasked with judging whether the civilization of a planet will live or die.
- Scathan the Approver: A Celestial from the alternate timeline/reality Earth-691, tasked with approving or disapproving situations.
- Tefral the Surveyor: A Celestial tasked with surveying and mapping the geography of planets.
- Ziran the Tester: A Celestial tasked with testing the stability of the genetic material of life forms they alter.
Powers and abilities
Referred to as "space gods" by the Eternals and the Deviants, the Celestials appear as silent, armored humanoids with an average height of 2,000 feet (610 m). They are capable of feats such as reducing the Asgardian construct known as the Destroyer to slag, moving planets at will, and creating and containing entire pocket universes. Reed Richards theorized that the Celestials' source of power was Hyperspace itself – the source of all energy in the Marvel Universe. The characters are almost invulnerable, and have only been harmed in rare instances before instantly regenerating. The first known assassination of a Celestial was carried out by the Apocalypse Twins, who used the axe "Jarnbjorn", divinely enchanted to pierce Celestial armor, against the Celestial Gardener. The now-lost hyperweapon Godkiller, a space-borne humanoid robot which dwarfs even the Celestials themselves, was claimed to have destroyed Celestials literally by the billions. New Celestials may be born by consuming the mass of an entire galaxy.
Thanos wielding the Infinity Gauntlet ranked the Celestials as being on roughly the same scale of power as Galactus, the Stranger, Odin, and Zeus, but below that of Mistress Love, Lord Chaos, and Master Order.
The characters also appear in the 1999 alternate universe limited series Earth X, appearing as beings of energy encased in armor composed of vibranium, a metal with properties that prevent their dissipation. They reproduce by planting a fragment of their essence in a planet, which matures into a new Celestial over the course of eons. As a form of protection of that growing Celestial, its "parents" would manipulate the DNA of a planet's dominant life form to gain super-abilities and unknowingly act as antibodies, protecting the planet until the Celestial is born. The cosmic entity Galactus opposes them, devouring planets that incubate Celestial "eggs" to prevent the Celestials from overpopulating the universe.
In the alternate reality of the 1998 miniseries Mutant X, the Celestials openly opposed the Goblin Entity, an all powerful being that consumed entire galaxies and the polar opposite of the Phoenix Force. While they were ultimately successful in imprisoning their enemy, they eventually died from the wounds they sustained during the battle and the Goblin Entity managed to escape its prison several years later by attaching itself to the life force of Madelyne Pryor.
The Celestials of Earth-4280 were convinced they were gods and attempted to conquer the Multiverse by use of the Bridge, a device created by Reed Richards that allows its users to observe and enter alternate worlds. They were defeated by the combined forces of Galactus and a Franklin Richards from an alternate future.
In other media
- The severed head of a deceased Celestial appears in the 2014 feature film Guardians of the Galaxy. The head is used as a congregation hub for space travelers known as Knowhere. As in the comics the origin and nature of the Celestials are shrouded in mystery. Whatever was known about them is known only to a few, such as Taneleer Tivan / The Collector, who reveals that the Celestials utilized the Infinity Stone known as the Orb as a means of execution against those who wronged them. The Celestial shown in a hologram on Knowhere is Eson the Searcher.
- In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ego the Living Planet, who is Peter Quill / Star-Lord's biological father, is a Celestial who controls a humanoid avatar to travel the universe. His planetary form is a living extension of his Celestial consciousness. Over the course of many years, he has planted thousands of alien-seedlings to carry on his existence after he has gone. Ego then has these children retrieved by Yondu Udonta to gauge their Celestial powers. Peter is revealed to have been the only child who gained his father's abilities.
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- Thor #300 (October 1980)
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- Thanos Annual #1 (2014)
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