(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 CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)
By Byron Brewer
I have always loved Jahf, the diminutive First Guardian of the M’Kraan Crystal in the Shi’ar Empire. While his origins are unknown, over the course of decades, it has been stated that Jahf is an android; however, recent evidence seems to point away from this. In the mini-series Imperial Guard, it seemed that Jahf was addressed by Gladiator as if an actual member of that elite military force. It is known that Jahf is unique to the Multiverse.
In his first appearances, there were references to Jahf’s programming and scrambling his circuits via Banshee’s sonic scream, but later appearances had him discussing Shi’ar faith as if it were his own and showing him to have feathers rather than hair on his head. He could still be an artificial construct programmed to think of himself as a loyal Shi’ar, I suppose, and certainly membership in such an august team as the Imperial Guard may lend itself to this. But the issue seems murkier now than before.
Robot, alien or concept being, there is no entity quite like Jahf for pulling off the surprise of a book. When the M’Kraan Crystal’s nine Deathstars came into alignment and it opened up to the outside world, Jahf appeared to prevent anyone from entering it. Wolverine mocked his threat, and Jahf punched him into orbit! The First Guardian shrugged off the combined threats of the X-Men and Starjammers. The Phoenixeven summoned a meteor and smashed it into Jahf, who was completely unharmed.
The object of his protection and duty, the M’Kraan Crystal, is a gigantic crystalline artifact that lies at the Nexus of All Realities. The Crystal contains a negative galaxy, a source of near limitless power, which pulls and traps all matter inside. The Crystal played a prominent role in several major storylines, including the Dark Phoenix Saga and the Age of Apocalypse.
As the Nexus of All Realities, the Crystal can allow travel between universes, but opening the Crystal could cause the mass of the neutron galaxy inside to suck in the entire universe and cause a chain-reaction across the Omniverse, destroying all universes in existence. The city inside can only be reached once every million years; when specific galaxies are aligned, the M'Kraan Crystal will allow entry for a short period of time. It also houses the White Hot Room, the place in which the Phoenix Force places all beings to heal them or return them to life. As it is a singleton across all universes, the reality-hopping Exiles figured out how to use the Crystal to visit selected realities; in the Age of Apocalypse, Dark Beast discovered a means to travel through the Crystal to alternate Earths. The Exiles used it as a means to reach the Panoptichron, a place that exists outside of time and space. It apparently can also repower depowered mutants, as Professor X regained his powers after being trapped in and escaping the M'Kraan Crystal.
Jahf, a small being (artifical or not) with with tremendous strength and durability, is the prime guardian of the Crystal. Should Jahf ever be defeated, the gigantic robot Modt takes his place. Modt is said to be a thousand times stronger and more powerful than Jahf. Modt claimed that should he be defeated, an even more powerful guardian would appear, and that an endless number of increasingly powerful guardians were waiting beyond him. So far as I can recall, nobody has been able to defeat Modt.
As I said, Jahf and these other guardians seem to exist in all different realities simultaneously. Jahf in the Age of Apocalypse had knowledge of the events on Earth-616. This is in the limited series Gambit and the X-Ternals. He is seen specifically knocking Wolverine around. Should the guardians be avoided, a second layer of defense exists: any person entering the M'Kraan Crystal will live through his greatest fears.
While Jahf is highly powerful and nearly indestructable, he himself cannot affect the Crystal in an way. According to one account, he is a living facet of the Crystal itself, empowered by the entire neutron galaxy at its heart – completely invulnerable, indestructible and invicible.
I’d like to see the little fellow slap Blastaar or another Kirby giant around sometime soon, wouldn’t you?