The Heliopolitans in Thor & Hercules: Encyclopaedia Mythologica #1 (September 2009). Art by Kevin Sharpe
|First appearance||Marvel Tales #96 (June 1950)|
Stan Lee (Writer)|
Werner Roth (Artist)
|Pantheon||Ancient Egyptian deities|
Characters based on ancient Egyptian deities were first mentioned in Captain America Comics #20 (November 1942), published by Marvel Comics' predecessor Timely Comics, in which Captain America and Bucky investigate the murder of Colonel Fitzpatrick, who was studying the Book of Thoth while stationed in Egypt. The Heliopolitans first full Golden Age appearance was in the story "The Terror That Creeps" by Stan Lee and Werner Roth, published in Marvel Tales #96 (June 1950), and involves a man that fails to convince the public that the Great Sphinx of Giza is slowly moving to the edge of the desert, where it will be empowered by Set and destroy mankind. The goddess Bast would later make her first appearance (as a totem) with the Black Panther in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966). Many of the other deities, including Horus, Isis and Osiris, were introduced in Thor #239 (September 1975). Khonshu, who became associated with Moon Knight, first appeared in Moon Knight #1 (November 1980). Joseph Muszynski argued in his book Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned from Marvel Comics that the introduction of Egyptian deities "excited our tendency to enjoy variety" as the pantheon contained multiple gods and personalities as opposed to the Judeo-Christian religions. Ed Strauss contended that Marvel was able to dive into ancient Egyptian religion because it "had long been retired into the realm of mythology" unlike Christianity.
The Heliopolitans were worshipped as deities by the inhabitants of the Nile River Valley from as early as 10,000 BC. According to Heliopolitan legend, the first of these were Gaea (as Neith), the Demiurge (as Nun), and Set. Neith and Nun sired Atum, the first of the Ogdoad — the old gods. As Neith went about creating mortal life, Set desired to destroy her creations. In turn, Neith called Atum for protection. Atum and Set fought for eons until Atum transformed into the Demogorge and drove Set off. After Set's defeat, Atum begot the Ennaed — the new gods, took the name Ra and settled in the sun.
The Ennead resided in the ancient city of Heliopolis until their king Osiris placed mortal pharaohs in charge so that the gods could become less involved with human affairs and relocated themselves to the extradimensional realm of Celestial Heliopolis. A few, including Bast, Sobek, and Sekhmet, choose to remain on Earth. Bast would eventually become the patron deity of Wakanda, while Sobek and Sekhmet became patrons of less influential African cults.
In Celestial Heliopolis, Seth murdered his brother Osiris in an attempted coup but Osiris' wife Isis, and his sons Horus and Anubis combined their powers to resurrect Osiris. Osiris then dispatched Horus to exact revenge on Seth in a battle that lasted for several hundred years, ending when Seth gained the upper hand and sealed the gods in a pyramid. The trapped gods remained in the pyramid for several millennia until they managed to reach out to the Asgardian god Odin. With help from Odin's son, Thor, they defeated Seth, severing his left hand as they battled, and freed the Heliopolitans.
The gods of Heliopolis, powerless and calling themselves "Lost Ones", joined Thor and Earth Force in fighting Seth and his forces again, and ultimately regained their powers after the apparent death of Seth.
- Anubis — god of the afterlife
- Atum — god of the sun
- Bast — god of pleasure, poetry & dance
- Bes — god of luck & probability
- Geb — god of the Earth
- Horus — god of the sun
- Isis — goddess of fertility
- Khonshu — god of the moon
- Neith — goddess of the Earth
- Nun — god of the watery abyss
- Nut — goddess of the sky
- Osiris — god of the dead
- Sekhmet — god of war
- Set — god of chaos and creation
- Seth — god of evil
- Sobek - god of rivers
- Thoth — god of wisdom
In other media
The gods Bast and Sekhmet were both mentioned by T'Challa / Black Panther, portrayed by Chadwick Boseman, in the 2016 Marvel Cinematic Universe film Captain America: Civil War, with T'Challa explaining, "In my culture, death is not the end. It's more of a stepping-off point. You reach out with both hands, and Bast and Sekhmet, they lead you into the green veld where you can run forever." Bast is again mentioned in the prologue of the 2018 film Black Panther as having helped the first Black Panther become king of Wakanda.
- Captain America Comics #20 (November 1942)
- Marvel Tales #96 (June 1950)
- Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966)
- Thor #239 (September 1975)
- Moon Knight #1 (November 1980)
- Muszynski, Joseph (May 7, 2017). Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned from Marvel Comics. Lulu. ISBN 978-1365686740.
- Strauss, Ed (March 1, 2017). The Superheroes Devotional: 60 Inspirational Readings. Shiloh Run Press. ISBN 978-1634099639.
- Anthony Flamini, Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente & Paul Cornell (w), Kevin Sharpe (p), Kevin Sharpe (i). Thor & Hercules: Encyclopaedia Mythologica 1 (July 2009), Marvel Comics
- Thor #240-241 (October–November 1975)
- Thor #301 (November 1980)
- Thor #397-400 (November 1988-February 1989)
- Sum, Ed (May 27, 2016). "Identifying Bast and Sekhmet in Captain America: Civil War, The Black Panther Movie Lore". otakunoculture.com. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Armitage, Hugh (February 15, 2018). "Updated: 11 Black Panther Easter eggs and references to the wider Marvel world". Digital Spy. Retrieved February 19, 2018.