They came from the stars. In terms of power and influence, the Celestials are hands down some of the most powerful beings in existence. Early on in our planet’s history, these giant armored beings manipulated the DNA strands of advanced sentient life on earth. The results were two new species of humanity: the Deviants and the Eternals, along with the implantation of a mutant strand of DNA in remaining humans. This would eventually grant certain people special powers and abilities. Hence without the Celestials, many Marvel heroes would not exist.
The Celestials are now an established part of the Marvel Comic Universe. In fact, they’ve even made a cinematic appearance. Remember the mining planet of Knowhere from Guardians of the Galaxy? That was a severed Celestials’ head. And later the Collector describes how a mighty being (almost certainly the Celestial known as Esom the Searcher) used the Power Stone to once destroy all life on a planet. Finally, in the Second Guardians movie, Ego the Living Planet suggests that, not only is he a Celestial but that he is the last of his kind. This is almost certainly false – especially given Marvel’s plans for Phase Four (Oh, and Ego is never called a Celestial in the comics).
In their comic history instead, the Celestials served an entity known as the Fulcrum. At the behest of the Fulcrum, they (and not Thanos) were the ones who sought to maintain balance in the Universe. They achieved this by visiting different worlds and judging which species would survive and which perish. Humans were selected to survive, but the Celestials also altered our memories to erase all knowledge about them having ever visited Earth.
I’ve already looked at some of those important Marvel ‘Cosmic Keys’ in a previous entry (see here), this time I narrow my focus by looking at key issues and first appearances of the Celestials.
Originally, the Eternals wasn’t planned as a series that had continuity with the rest of the Marvel Universe. You see, around 1970 Jack ‘the King’ Kirby, left Marvel. He was unhappy with his contract and the general lack of respect he was getting at Marvel. He wanted more editorial control and to write his own stories. So, when DC gave him an offer (and Marvel rejected renegotiating his contract) he went to work for DC and ended up bringing the New Gods, Darkseid and other cosmic characters and ideas with him. By 1976 Kirby was once again working for Marvel and he decided to launch yet another ‘cosmic’ book: the Eternals. This time he was allowed to both write and illustrate. And so he did. Truth be told Kirby’s scripts are not everyone’s cup of tea. But the art is always gorgeous. In issue #2 of the Eternals we first meet the Celestials. This issue also features the first appearance of Arishem the Judge – one of the strongest of the Celestials. A 9.8 sold for $350.00 recently, whereas in 2013 when it could still be purchased for $100.00 or less.
This is a major key regarding the Celestials. Filled with first appearances and the pushing forward of the mythology behind the Celestials and their relationship to the lower beings in the cosmos. Not only do we get the first appearance of some of the most iconic Celestials, including Gammenon the Gatherer, but this book also features the first mention of the One-Above-All. If there’s a truly Cosmic being in the Marvel Universe it’s the OAA. Eternals #7 is currently showing strong returns on investment. In 9.2 grade this comic’s value is up an incredible 935% since 2013!
The Sky-Fathers of earth are powerful beings. Odin and Zeus, for example, can easily defeat the strongest human heroes. But what the Sky-Fathers are to human heroes, the Celestials are to the Sky-Fathers. When the combined Sky-Fathers confronted just one Celestial (Arishem the Judge), they were easily held back and beaten. In the Thor comic the Celestials make an appearance starting in issue 283, which launches what is sometimes known as ‘the Celestials Saga’. In this issue Thor confronts Gammenon the Gatherer, right after asking Odin: who are the Celestials? A series of flashbacks and an overview of their Marvel history- officially incorporating them into the larger Marvel Multi-verse, ensues. This forgotten Thor comic has been heating up recently, best returns are on 9.8s but it has still to break the $100.00 mark.
With more movie appearances to come in the near future, there is even talk of an Eternals film, it’s a safe bet that interest in the Celestials key issues will also continue to grow.