Elder Gods (Marvel Comics)
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The Elder Gods are fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. They were the first generation of Earth's gods, apparently inspired by Greek an Egyptian mythology and the Cthulhu Mythos.
Fictional group history
The Elder Gods first appeared billions of years ago, even before organic life began to evolve on Earth. The precursor to the Elder Gods was a being known as the Demiurge, born from Earth's natural magical energies. Wishing to know itself, it then decided to spread its substance over the planet, 'birthing' the rest of the gods. The full number of the Elder Gods has not been revealed, but among them were: Gaea, goddess of the Earth, life, and renewal; Chthon, god of darkness and chaos, Set, the serpent god of death and destruction and Oshtur, goddess of the dawn, order and intellect. Hyppus and Isuus are other mentioned Elder Gods. The "Wild One" (seemingly inspired by Rebel Without a Cause) is an Elder God who only made one brief appearance in a plot involving the other-dimensional Sorcerer Supreme Shanzar. The Gibborim are also Elder Gods, surviving the Demogorge, having ruled Earth before humanity arose, but as their power faded, they retreated to a limbo-like dimension; they are sustained through souls and possess vast magical powers, including that of resurrection and reality-manipulation; they existed in a void-like limbo until the events of X-Infernus released them, albeit temporarily.
Gaea took to nurturing the living beings born of the Earth. Chthon took to mastery over dark mysticism and wrote his spells down in an indestructible set of parchments that would become known as the Darkhold. Oshtur left Earth for the vastness of space and to explore the mystic heritage of the universe before the fall of the Elder Gods and eventually became one of the Vishanti. Set discovered that if he ate his brethren Gods, his own power would increase, so he started to do so, becoming the first murderer in the history of the planet. The process also caused him to degenerate into a demon. Most of the other Elder Gods, with the exception of Gaea, began to imitate him, so that, eventually, whoever was not devoured had now become a demon.
Gaea, concerned that the actions of her peers would harm the life she was protecting, summoned the Demiurge and mated with it, in order to create a champion: Atum, god of the sun. Atum proceeded to kill the other Gods in battle, absorbing their energies. The energies eventually caused him to mutate into a demonic-like form of his own: Demogorge the God-Eater. Demogorge continued to devour the rest of the Gods. Even Chthon and Set working together were unable to defeat him. Soon, the last of the Gods realized that their only hope laid in escaping from Earth, which they did, though it meant they would be trapped in other dimensions. Chthon, however, left the scrolls that would eventually become the Darkhold behind, hoping someone would summon him back someday. Set, too, kept a mental link with the plane through the Serpent Crown. After visiting far distant worlds, Oshtur returned to Earth and discovered what transpired on her homeworld. Shocked at what had become of her siblings, she volunteered to leave the Earth dimension of her own volition so as to not upset the balance her sister had placed within the mystic boundaries of the Earth.
After finishing his task, Demogorge released the energies he had absorbed, returning to his natural form of Atum. He then left Earth to live within the sun. Gaea continued to guide the evolution of life on Earth.
Billions of years later, during the age of the dinosaurs, Set managed to return to Earth, by feeding on the mental energies of reptiles. Gaea, however, summoned Atum again, who somehow transformed into Demogorge again. The two Elder Gods battled with Set growing extra heads as his were destroyed until Set was too weak to continue, and returned to his extradimensional prison. This battle could have been the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs in the Marvel Universe's Earth (except those in the Savage Land). Atum then returned to the sun.
The energies released by Demogorge gave birth to the next generation of demons (Mephisto, Satannish, Thog, Marduk Kurios and more). They may also have given rise to the assorted pantheons of gods that currently populate the Marvel Universe - Atum himself is said to have a connection to some of them, such as the Egyptian Ennead and Ogdoad. It is known, however, that Gaea, under various identities, began to mate with some of the new deities, becoming the Mother Goddess in all of Earth's pantheons. Sometime after the fall of the dinosaurs and the rise of the various pantheons, Oshtur gave birth to a new being on Earth - Agamotto. Agamotto was instructed by Oshtur to watch the Earth dimension in order to learn from it. Soon, after he developed vast magical abilities and longed to join his mother in the other realms. He left behind several artifacts to aid those who looked to uncover the magic of his lineage, the Eye of Agamotto, the Orb of Agamotto, and the Book of the Vishanti.
With the exception of Gaea and Atum, the surviving, demonic Elder Gods are still imprisoned, though they continue to affect the Earth indirectly, through their worshippers or evil artifacts.
In New Mutants (vol. 3) #20, the Elder Gods imprisoned are released again by General Ulysses and the Limbo Babies, using the Bloodstone amulet that originally belonged to Belasco. Illyana Rasputin, though, already had a plan to defeat them. She made a pact with the Omega mutant Legion (full details still unknown) who unleashes his full power to the corrupted Gods, who did not have a chance to survive; all of them are wiped out of existence by the god-like mutant, ending their evil forever. Legion then destroys the Bloodstone amulet and returns the bloodstones to Magik as part of the pact, preventing the cursed object's power from ever being used again.
- Elder Gods at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe