The Living Tribunal is a humanoid-looking cosmic entity with immeasurable power that has existed since the origin of the Multiverse. Its purpose is to keep the Multiverse (the sum total of all universes) safe from cosmic threats and any kind of imbalance.
His first appearance was in Strange Tales Vol. 1 #157 USA (1967), in the hands of Stan Lee and Marie Severin , where he gave Doctor Strange a deadline to prove that the Earth deserved to be saved.
This entity has no will of its own and the sole purpose of its existence is to serve its creator and master, The One Above All ( The One-Above-All ). The Living Tribunal is also above everything and everyone, being capable of any act in order to maintain the balance that it is destined to protect, even destroying an entire universe.
He belongs to Marvel’s group of abstract cosmic entities, such as Eternity, Infinity, Death, Oblivion, Entropy, the Master of Order, Lord Chaos, and Abraxas, among others.
He is the judge of the Marvel Universe
As we have already mentioned, the Living Tribunal is the cosmic entity in charge of maintaining the balance between the realities within the Multiverse.
His abilities were given to him by the One Above All, a cosmic entity that is above all others. Similarly, beings such as Eternity, Infinity and Death are subject to the authority of the Living Tribunal.
He exists simultaneously in all the realities of the Multiverse and is judge in all of them. He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
The three faces of the Living Tribunal
The physical representation of the Living Tribunal is composed of a golden body (which can vary in size) and three heads , each with a different meaning. The Living Tribunal uses its three heads to look at the Multiverse and be able to make a fair judgment to take the right actions in order to maintain balance.
To ensure that the great universal laws are fulfilled, he resorts to his judgment, made up of three entities represented in three faces: Necessity (head completely covered), Vengeance (head half covered) and Equity (head uncovered). To reach a sentence, the Court must reach a consensus between these three entities.
He has tried to save the Marvel Universe … and also that of DC
The Living Tribunal is one of the few characters in the entire Marvel Multiverse to acknowledge the existence of the DC Comics Universe. During the Marvel vs DC event comics , the Living Tribunal allied with The Specter , somewhat like their DC counterpart, to stop two terrible characters called The Brothers .
The Brothers, divine entities that personified the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe, became aware of each other’s existence and set out to destroy both Multiverses, even managing to defeat the Living Tribunal and the Spectre. When the two universes were about to perish, a character called Access made an appearance who prevented this from happening, defeating the Brothers.
Access is a character who represents the two Multiverses and is capable of traveling through them. The rights to it belong to both comic book publishers.
Virtually unlimited power
The Living Tribunal possesses nearly limitless power , making it capable of completely erasing dimensions and realities at will. He can defeat an army of gods if he puts his mind to it, as his power level is incalculable. He can open portals to other dimensions and universes.
He is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, being able to make whatever he wishes come true. Also, his three heads are able to see the future, present and past. This entity is the second most powerful character in the entire Marvel Universe and we can say that he is technically immortal.
Did we say he was Immortal?
Talking about immortality in comics is very relative, as any true fan should already know. We can affirm this because there have already been several immortal characters who ended up dying, and the Living Tribunal is a clear example of this.
During the macro-story that Jonathan Hickman developed for Marvel in the Avengers and New Avengers collections that would end up culminating in the Secret War event (which in turn served as a small reset / restart for many of the publisher’s series), the lifeless body of the Tribunal Alive is found in the far reaches of space by Uatu (the Watcher) and Iron Man.
The Living Tribunal’s cause of death is a violent battle against the Beyonders (an immensely powerful race of extra-dimensional entities) in a last-ditch attempt to restore balance to the Multiverse. After his death, every piece of his body was scattered throughout the Marvel Universe.
Later, after the remodeling events of the Marvel Multiverse that occurred in Secret Wars, in the story Thanos: The Infinity Finale (2015), the Adam Warlock of Earth-19141 assumed the title and duties of The Living Tribunal, thus becoming his successor, but without being subject to the same laws and limitations that had weakened his predecessor.