Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When Convenes the Living Tribunal!

If you're looking for a fair shake in receiving justice on a cosmic level, you probably shouldn't put your faith in the judgment of the Living Tribunal:

The Tribunal really doesn't care about fairness as it pertains to the individual, so much as making sure the universe--heck, the multiverse--operates as it should. And you'd better darn well trust that the Tribunal knows how things should operate, because he's not about to explain himself to you.

And frankly, I'm willing to cut the Tribunal some slack, because I couldn't begin to imagine what it must be like to keep tabs on a single galaxy, let alone the entire universe--let alone all the universes there are, not to mention all the alternate realities, netherworlds, and yes, fast food chains. The Tribunal, needless to say, has a lot on his plate. No wonder he's trying to face several directions at once.

We met the Living Tribunal when Dr. Strange battled Zom, a mystical entity that Strange released to deal with the threat of Umar, though Zom proved to be the greater threat by far. And I can guess what you're thinking: "How can a character named 'Zom' be taken seriously as a threat?" And I'm with you, because, like you, I always thought "Zom" was just a cool sound effect:

But Zom is definitely real, and one of the more deadly menaces that Strange had ever faced. Yet Zom, for all his power, could be defeated by ripping his forelock from his skull; however, the repercussions of such an act involved upsetting the balance of keeping Earth's minor magicians in check, which would one day lead to destruction on a massive scale. And that's when the Tribunal stepped in--pointing the finger of blame not at Zom, but at the mortal who seemed to roll the dice a lot in his battles without much thought to the consequences.

The Tribunal then declares that he must destroy the Earth in order to set things right again and undo what Strange has set in motion. But Strange, of course, defends Earth, and so he challenges the Tribunal to battle, though the Tribunal makes it crystal clear that Strange is in over his head.

Nevertheless, Strange forges ahead--and what follows isn't so much a battle as it is a reality check for Strange that the Tribunal isn't to be trifled with. Still, we know that Strange is resourceful, and he ends up striking a bargain with this entity--to let him attempt to fix this situation before the Tribunal enacts his "sentence."

Strange is all but successful in his efforts, leading up to one final struggle between the Tribunal and another powerful mystic entity where Strange proves his mettle (and without grabbing a lock of hair this time).

By the way, you must have been wondering: What's up with those three hooded faces? Let's let the Tribunal fill us in:

Again, if you're looking for an entity to deliberate your matter with fair consideration, you might want to steer clear of one that combines equity and necessity with revenge.

The Tribunal has appeared in other stories of cosmic scope and high stakes--for instance, pronouncing sentence in an alternate reality where Korvac was on the verge of realizing his universal dream:

And if you need a nice graphic of just how the Tribunal ranks among the so-called powers of the universe, there's this double-page spread that makes it clear how he presides over and keeps tabs on everyone and everything (at least as far as the speck of cosmic dust that comprises our universe, that is):

Hear ye, hear ye--the Living Tribunal is ready to convene.  Always.


Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to Nebulos, Lord of the Planets Perilous?
He managed to give the Living Tribunal a run for his money.
Well, briefly, anyway. He held out longer than Zom, at any rate.
Interesting looking character, with a wonderfully cornball name! What a crazy period of the Doctor Strange comic that was! mp

Colin Jones said...

Sorry to be a pedantic bore but if the Living Tribunal caused Earth's polar ice to expand and cover the whole planet this wouldn't crush Earth to cosmic dust - in fact this very scenario happened about 600 million years ago. Nor would accelerating the Sun to its' natural end cause it to go nova as it's the wrong kind of star - however in both cases it would be curtains for all human life which would be good enough for the Living Tribunal I suppose :)

david_b said...

NICE graphic with all the 'higher-ups' or whatever you'd call 'em.

Very nice comparison.

LOVED Tribby under Ditko the best, just love his ultra-clean starkness, no backgroungs, very minimalist-style on Doc Strange. It really made Doc convincingly surreal and unworldly.

Again, Gene's Doc Strange was lush and beautiful, but Ditko had that very-fitting quirkiness, so unlike most other artists.

Anonymous said...

Colin, to put it most succinctly, you do indeed dazzle me with science (dazzle me with science). All I know is that personally, cold does cause things to shrink......and turtle.

The Prowler (how can we sleep when our beds are burning).

Comicsfan said...

David, we actually have mirthful Marie Severin to thank for introducing us to the Tribunal in these issues. I'm not sure if Ditko ever got a crack at drawing the Tribunal, though, as you suggest, his take on this entity would no doubt be unique and impressive.

david_b said...

Ahhh, ok, I can see Marie's style now. She certainly was mirthful.


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