||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (January 2016)|
|First appearance||Eternals #1 (July 1976)|
|Created by||Jack Kirby|
|Place of origin||Unknown|
|Notable members||List of Celestials members|
|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 x 2 - January 1990).
Fictional team history
Celestials existed near the birth of the universe and created life and death along with the multiverse. There were once billions of them, until their hegemony was challenged by a species known only as the "Aspirants", who went to war against them by creating a now-lost hyper weapon called the "Godkiller", a space-borne 25,000 foot (7,600 m) tall humanoid robot that dwarfs even the Celestials themselves. After a bitter war of attrition, during which the Godkiller destroyed countless Celestials, the Aspirants and the Godkiller were ultimately defeated and the Aspirants wiped out. New Celestials may be born by consuming the mass of an entire galaxy. Visiting Earth every few thousand years in groups called "Hosts", the group is revealed to have been responsible for the creation of the Eternals and the Deviants, and, via genetic manipulation, the existence of superpowers in mutants.
Resenting the presence of the Celestials and their monitoring of Earth's progress, the Skyfather figures of Earth (e.g. 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.
- 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.
- 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 totally 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.
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 planets 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, 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 the Hologram on Knowhere is that of Eson the Searcher.
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