In Defenders: Beyond, Marvel finally reveals the truth about its “God”, the One Above All, who is aware of their nature as a comic book character.
Warning: contains spoilers for Defenders: Beyond #5!Marvel Comics finally shows the true nature of its "God", the One Above All, who reveals they are actually aware of being inside a comic book. Marvel's depictions of this supreme being have been mostly inconsistent throughout the decades, but writer Al Ewing gives the best explanation of the One Above All's nature and their role in the Marvel Universe.
The idea of a supreme creator being started appearing very early in Marvel comic books. It wasn't until Fantastic Four #511, however, that readers could get a look at this "God", who in that issue took the shape of the legendary Jack Kirby. Despite being originally conceived more as an homage than as an actual character, the One Above All nevertheless became a canon member of Marvel's pantheon, as the supreme creator who stands above even the most powerful cosmic beings, such as Eternity and even the Living Tribunal. Al Ewing clearly has a fascination for the concept of the One Above All, who figures prominently in his Immortal Hulk comic, and the writer has now provided a clear explanation of his role in Marvel cosmology.
In Defenders: Beyond #5, by Al Ewing and Javier Rodrìguez, the titular team has arrived at the final destination of their journey through the various iterations of the Marvel Multiverse: the House of Ideas. This metaphysical and metaphorical place is "the crown of creation, where everything is meaning and portent". Inside, they meet the One Above All, who is busy using the primary colors to build the reality the characters live in. When they claim to be the supreme being, Blue Marvel objects, correctly guessing that the One Above All is a primal creative force and the greatest power that the characters can reach, but there are greater forces above him. These are the comics creators, and the One Above All admits that the House of Idea is a gateway, "the place where the world of action ends, and the world of creation begins".
If "the world of action" is that inside of the comic books, and "the world of creation" is the real one, then the One Above All is aware of their nature as a comic book character. They outright confirm it when they say to Tigra that she can go home "when the storyteller chooses". In this issue, then, Al Ewing has explained the nature and role of Marvel's most mysterious character. The One Above All is not God in the traditional sense of the word, because they are not omniscient. They don't know if there is something above their creators, "a final guiding hand" (which should be the God of our world, then), but they are intrigued by the mystery. However, this story also confirms that, as far as the Marvel Multiverse goes, the One Above All is indeed the supreme being, the highest power that the characters can ever reach and interact with.
The One Above All thus joins a very small group of characters who are aware of their fictional nature (the most famous being Deadpool). Al Ewing's intention with Defenders was to paint a map of Marvel's cosmology, of the structure of the Multiverse itself. The One Above All had to be the final piece of the puzzle, and now that the mystery of Marvel's "God" has been solved, fans can begin to wonder about what lies beyond that.
Next: The Marvel Universe's Newest Defender Is Galactus' Mom
Defenders: Beyond #5 is available now from Marvel Comics.
Francesco is Senior Writer for Screen Rant's Comics section. In his spare time he is also a lecturer in History and Cultural Studies. You can get mad at him on Twitter @FrancCacc