11

Abstract entities or cosmic entities are physical representations of abstract things; I only know a few, such as Death and Eternity.

So - Which was the first abstract entity to make an appearance in the Marvel Universe?

3
  • 4
    Well there probably was a figure in a cloak with a sickle way back, because Death is a folklorish "antropomorphic personfication" (although the traditional one was usually considered male, unlike Marvel's). And so were the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Perhaps it would be better to ask what was the first nontraditional abstract entity created specifically for the Marvel universe.
    – nebogipfel
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 14:06
  • Retconned characters like the Void? Presumably they're out..? Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 15:09
  • 3
    Can't believe Q-Tip hasn't made it into a Marvel comic at some point. They could have used him in this one. Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 15:11

2 Answers 2

20

According to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #4, Eternity first appeared in Strange Tales Vol. 1 #138 (November, 1965).

ETERNITY: I am Eternity! Heed my message and remain silent! For none may speak when I am present!

Strange Tales Vol. 1 #138, page 16

Strange Tales Vol. 1 #138 (November, 1965)

According to their entries in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the following entities all made their debut appearances after that:


Notably though, Death's first appearance -- as listed in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #3 -- is specified as her... (emphasis mine)

FIRST MODERN APPEARANCE

The OHOTMU doesn't seem to list any of her prior appearances, but according to the Marvel Database, her first ever appearance was in Marvel Mystery Comics #10 (August, 1940).

Two hands, like talons of steel, clamped down on Gudgeon's throat. His mind blurred and he saw, in the fog before him, the mocking face of death!

Marvel Mystery Comics #10, page 39

Marvel Mystery Comics #10 (August, 1940)

4
  • Galactus and The Silver Surfer are at least semi-abstract. Cf. The Living Tribunal.
    – Spencer
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 16:33
  • 3
    @Spencer - In Quasar Vol. 1 #37, page 11, Quasar states that Galactus is not an abstract entity, but rather, a physical being. Even if you ignore that reference, Galactus and the Silver Surfer didn't debut until Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #48 in 1966 anyway, after Eternity. Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 17:05
  • Very nicely detailed answer, but Nightmare preceded Eternity by more than two years. Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 9:17
  • 1
    @Klaus Æ. Mogensen - If we count Nightmare as an abstract entity, his first appearance precedes Eternity's by two years but succeeds Death's by 23 years. I'm not sure Marvel classifies him as an abstract entity though. Eternity and Death are both explicitly referred to as "abstract being[s]" within their OHOTMU entries. Nightmare is not, and is instead referred to as a "demon." Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 16:55
11

NIGHTMARE (July 1963)

The Lord of Dreams originally appeared in the very first Dr. Strange story in Strange Tales #110, July 1963.

Nightmare, an embodiment of terror-filled dreams, is the ruler of the Nightmare World, a realm within the Dream Dimension, which is a manifestation of the collective psyche of humanity, where people's dreams manifest a life of their own. He can drain psychic energies from the subconscious minds of dreaming beings.

enter image description here

9
  • 3
    I've been researching Nightmare to ascertain whether Marvel classifies him as an abstract entity or not, and while it's not wholly clear-cut, I currently lean towards him not being one. On the one hand, he did once refer to himself as a "conceptual entity" and he has been compared to Eternity in size and power. On the other, the OHOTMU refers to him as a "Class Three demon" and makes a distinction between demons and abstract beings such as Death and Oblivion. Also, Nightmare appears to have a physical body, whereas abstract entities do not. I can provide citations for all of this at request. Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 17:26
  • @LogicDictates, do provide the link to above said information as it will help me to decide which answer to accept
    – shanu
    Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 13:06
  • @shanu - By citations, I meant that I could specify the issues I sourced my information from. Nightmare's entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Horror 2005 refers to him as a "Class Three Demon." The entry for Demons in Marvel Zombies: The Book of Angels, Demons & Various Monstrosities states the following (on page 18): "Abstract beings, such as Death and Oblivion, represent concepts and are not actual demons." That same entry also includes Nightmare in its list of specific demons (on page 21). Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 16:07
  • In Quasar #37, it's established that abstract entities don't have physical bodies and use Manifestation-Bodies (M-Bodies, for short) obtained from the Dimension of Manifestations when interacting with mortals. In the same issue, it's suggested that killing an abstract's M-Body will not kill the abstract themselves. In Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #53, Nightmare switches bodies with Dr. Strange, but then panics when Morbius the Living Vampire begins to drain his body of it's "immortal blood," stating that if his body is slain, he'll be trapped in Dr. Strange's body for all time. Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 16:11
  • Also note that my answer lists the first appearances of both Eternity (in 1965) and Death (in 1940). So, irrespective of whether Nightmare is a genuine abstract entity or not, he is definitely not the first to appear in a Marvel comic. Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 16:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.