Friday, May 15, 2015

Heavenly Hierarchies in the DC and Marvel Comic Book Multiverses

The Crisis of Infinite Earths illustrated by Alex Ross
The DC Comics Multiverse is ruled by the abrahamic God whose various aspects are named the Presence (Godhead); the Voice (Divine Will); the Word (Divine Reason), the Hand (miraculous intervention); the Source (ground of Being) and the Source Wall (the limit of Non-Being). The universe was shattered and multiplied billions of years ago in an experiment that formed the branching multiverse and produced the Manichean opposition between the personification of matter, or Being, in the Monitor and the personification of anti-matter, or Non-Being, in the Anti-Monitor. The conflict between Monitor and Anti-Monitor during the Crisis of Infinite Earths would later result in the collapse and reconstruction of the DC Comics Multiverse. Various manifestations of universal phenomena, such as Destiny, Destruction, Death, Dream, Despair, Delirium, and Desire, are subordinated to this original unity and duality. The first creatures were the original gods who, having destroyed their world through war, were divided, between the heavenly world of New Genesis and the hellish world of Apokolips. The ‘Godwave’ resulting from the destruction of this world is said to have given birth to all other pantheons of later gods, including the Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, Persian, Chinese, and Japanese gods.

Cosmic Entities of the Marvel Comic Book Universe
The Marvel Comics Multiverse is ruled by the One-Above-All, which is manifested through the three faces in one body of the Living Tribunal. The major cosmic entities comprise various abstract complementary male and female couplets, such as Eternity and Infinity, Death and Oblivion; followed by the various minor cosmic entities such as Lord Chaos, Master Order, and the In-Betweener. The Infinity Gems are the last remains of the deceased cosmic entity Nemesis. Trans-universal powers freely move between and causally effect multiple universes, such as the Beyonders, the Phoenix Force, and the supreme magical powers of Sise-Neg and Cyttorax. The primary powers of the Marvel Comics Universe 616 are the inter-galactic powers, such as the Celestials, who created superpowered mutants, and the interstellar powers, such as Galactus who devours entire worlds; followed by the various gods derived from traditional mythology, such as Odin, Zeus, and Mephisto; along with lesser gods and demigods, such as Thor, Loki, and Hercules; and various other godlike creatures such as the mad Titan Thanos who, after mounting the infinity gems on the infinity gauntlet, is empowered to defeat all of the cosmic entities within the Marvel Multiverse.
Thanos imprisons the cosmic entities with the Infinity Gauntlet
If the theological backdrop of DC Comics is Jewish, then that of Marvel Comics is Gnostic. Beginning with only minor variations from a real-world setting, but also under pressure from the Comics Code Authority, DC Comic books avoided explicit descriptions of the supreme powers that created and ruled the universe, so as to leave open an imaginative theological space for readers of various religious traditions. The unseen God of DC Comics suggests the Jewish prohibition upon speaking the name and illustrating the image of God. Many of the most illustrious and enduring comic book characters were created by Jewish writers and artists, including Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (Superman), Bob Kane (Batman), but, most importantly, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (Marvel). Beginning with Fantastic Four (1961) Lee and Kirby began to populate the Marvel Comic universe with a veritable pleroma of ever increasingly powerful cosmic entities, from Galactus and the Celestials to the supreme Living Tribunal and the One-Above-All. These new gnostic gods were not imagined as one syncretic composite to supplant many ancient pagan deities, but rather as the common mythic vocabulary of a modern de-mythologized and secular society. Where ancient Gnosticism drew inspiration from the unknown mysteries of perennial past, the new gnosticism of comic book superheroes gestures instead from the limits of our present knowledge to an unknown future horizon, beyond the furthest expanses of time and space, newly opened by the infinite progress of Baconian natural science to the unknown worlds of Bruno, Voltaire, and Lovecraft.

Marvel Comic Superheroes battle Thanos for the Infinity Guantlet

1 comment:

Lord Ares said...

Good information, Marvel and DC show a lot more information , almost as the same human history