Posted by:
Byron Brewer

What the D'ast? The Living Tribunal


  (Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with Marvel Cosmic and its many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of He welcomes both raves and opposing views.) By Byron Brewer THE LIVING TRIBUNAL Frankly, next to Steve Englehart’s introduction in a Doctor Strange story of our literal God (first in the form of a futuristic sorcerer named Sise-Neg), the Living Tribunal is probably the most powerful entity ever depicted in a Marvel Comics story. I first encountered the Living Tribunal in a reprint of Strange Tales #157-163. Executed with beautiful Marie Severin artwork, this bizarre concept entity quickly established itself as the supreme power in the multiverse that makes up the Marvel Cosmos. With a body of shining gold, a star going nova in its chest (or so it appears) and four heads that sit in judgment, this omniscient being has appeared sporadically over the course of Marvel history. (And I thought Eternity looked cool!) Unlike the Watchers, however, the Living Tribunal is always ready to cast its (their?) judgment, always ready to act! The omnipotent Living Tribunal oversees and maintains balance in the realities that constitute the Marvel Cosmos, including the mainstream Marvel Universe (616) and all of its alternate realities and dimensions. For all of the worlds beside worlds and worlds within worlds and world duplicates Uatu the Watcher may view, there is only one, count it, one Living Tribunal. The Tribunal once revealed to the Silver Surfer that its three faces represent “Equity,” “Vengeance” and “Necessity,” respectively. The fourth side of the Living Tribunal’s head is a void, with the entity once having claimed that it could have represented the face of … the Stranger! Over the years, I believe it has been established that the power of the Living Tribunal is limitless, as the entity prevented the Infinity Gems from being used in unison at one point. It has representatives called The Magistrati who dispense judgments by request on alien worlds. It also once chose to reveal the previously covered 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.” With the stellar wars that have been waged since the end of the Annihilation War, I am surprised we have not seen this most powerful of cosmic entities hanging out more in the 616 universe, especially after the Fault was first cut and then burst after having been sewn together temporarily by Adam Warlock (thanks to Magus and Lord Mar-Vell). The flotsam and jetsam seeping into the 616 from the Cancerverse certainly required a look-see by this arbiter, IMO. But then again, I cannot make a star go nova! Its appearances have been very infrequent, and its character mostly uniform and relatively noble (for one of those beings, as Galactus says, “beyond good and evil”). If this four-faced Judge Judy ever does have to hand down a verdict on the MarvelU., however, I hope the rest of reality is ready!