The Old Ones are ancient eldritch beings predating Earth and even, for some of them, the universe itself. Many Old Ones dwelt on Earth in the distant past. They are also known as the "Great Old Ones", "Many-Angled Ones", "Elder gods", "Elder Ones", "Outsiders", "Dark Ones". or "dark gods" Though Outer Gods, Azotharoth and Yog-Sothoth have been mistaken often enough with the Great Old Ones, at the point they considered the same, as was the single known Other God, Nyarlathotep. To add to the confusion, other groups have also been known as "Elder Ones", "Dark Gods" or "Elder Gods", and even "Old Ones".
They were led by a certain number of Old Ones, including Shuma-Gorath, True Faery King Oberoth'm'gozz, and Yog-Sothoth, as Sehdoula, while both Shuma-Gorath and Chthon were considered the greatest of the Old Ones. The hierarchy among the Old Ones, if any, is currently unknown.
In Earth-616, modern author Lovecraft wrote on the subject of the Old Ones, about the True Faeries, while his Earth-1610 counterpart wrote at least on the subject of Zvilpogghua and the great old ones.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Origin
- 1.2 Prehistory and distant past
- 1.3 Disappearance
- 1.4 Pre-Cataclysmic Age
- 1.5 Great Cataclysm and Hyborian Age
- 1.6 Hyborian Age of Conan (10,000 BC)
- 1.7 War with Atlantis
- 1.8 5,800 BC
- 1.9 200 AD
- 1.10 Vanaria
- 1.11 Modern Age
- 2 Powers and Abilities
- 3 Miscellaneous
- 4 Notes
- 5 Trivia
- 6 See Also
- 7 Links and References
The origins of the Old Ones are unclear, and various:
- They have been described as "extradimensional demonic" beings.
- The Many-Angled Ones were described as primordial cosmic entities that inhabited the spaces between universes. They were reported as the memory-echoes of the nightmares that plagued the first Daemons, but there were ancient, pestilential ghoul-worlds in dying realities still devoted to their worship. They were documented as the first beings ever to grow old.
- Alternatively, the Great Old Ones have been told to be "near-gods" originated from the Outer Dark, "beyond Reality itself". Those hideous ancient things of evil were also stated to be either "otherworldly", from unknown origin (wild guesses including outer space, another dimension, and Hell), though they were also described as "beings from the stars", and as "horrific alien beings"
- The Old Ones were described as "primordial beasts" made of antimatter, and to be the embodiment of nothingness, absence of meaning, and thus evil beings.
- Asteroth claimed to had been born from the Chaos of creation, and to be "the blood and tears of the Universe". It is known that she belonged to a race of cosmic beings.
- The True Faeries were stated to be the Old Ones Lovecraft wrote about.
- Despite the general "extradimensional" origin, some Old Ones are known or hypothesized to be originated from Earth:
- Some of the Elder Gods of Earth have been told to be Old Ones:
- it was theorized that the aquatic monster Dagon was an Old One, and that he was Ea, an Annunaki (and the brother of the god Dagon, who possibly usurped the monster Dagon's name and worshipers).
A few groups of beings named Old Ones have been identified seemingly as seemingly consistent species:
- The star-headed Old Ones were a species that came from space and established themselves on Earth, building massive cities.
- The True Faeries are a species of squid-headed, insect-winged humanoid, wrote about in the Modern Age as the Old Ones.
They were led by a certain number of Old Ones, including Shuma-Gorath, True Faery King Oberoth'm'gozz, and Yog-Sothoth, as Sehdoula, while Chthon was considered the greatest of the Old Ones. The hierarchy among the Great Old Ones is currently unknown.
Prehistory and distant past
According to lore, the Old Ones populated all existence before the act of creation. The Nameless Old Ones allegedly ruled the universe a billion eons before the birth of Gayomar, the first of all men.
Shuma-Gorath and other Old Ones came million years ago. The Elder Ones dwelt on Earth before man (or before man climbed down from the trees, and became man) including in ancient Kush where they reigned over all. The Old Ones ruled the Earth and feasted on the ape-men.
They also ruled the deeps of Earth, enslaving them for eons of insanity, pain and blood magic. They built huge cities (such as R'lyeh,or R'llyeh, rumored to be the "First Atlantis", known as the "Seventh World of the Ancients", as it was described in the Lemurian Witch-Scrolls), and worked magic in unimmaginable ways. They kept their servants in chains, letting them to live and die in their dark glory, and spawned terrible creatures.
On the walls in the Tomb, in R'llyeh, their magic was carved into writings, which were theorized by the Logomancer to be the source of all magic of Earth, and to have been imperfectly copied in such books as the Darkhold, the Necronomicon, the Oracles of Zoroaster, among other mystic scrolls and books
They were known to love fire, blood, degradation, sacrifice and death, all which the mortals were utterly willing to give them.
The Old Ones (as well as the Great Race of Yith) partially wrote the Pnakotic Manuscripts. They also created the Wings of Needless Sorrow, an energy-absorption and -redirection device with also negative impact on people's moral, and brought to Earth the Shining Trapezohedran. During their time on Earth, the Elder Ones came to possess or create various artifacts of power, including the Gem of Earth Fire, and the Crystal of the Elder Ones. Some of those would eventually be retrieved by men.
In their time, the demon N'Garthl walked the Earth, while man was "but a cowering pawn in the shadow of creatures vile beyond imagining".
Many events are told to have been the cause to the disappearance of most of the Old Ones from Earth and the Universe:
- On Earth:
- More than 1 million years ago, Shuma-Gorath was banished from the Earth-realm by the time-traveling sorcerer Sise-Neg, along with allegedly "all of the Old Ones".
- 1 million years ago, two groups of gods fought. One side, led by Chthon, lost, and were banished away.
- Many others existed on Earth or were summoned, but most of those were slain or driven off, stated to slumber in the sea, waiting to reawaken.
- During a vision, Victoria Montesi, the daughter of Chthon, stated that the Old Ones were consumed, though the statement was made without any context.
- At an unknown point, the Old Ones, possibly including Cthulhu, were reborn in a different form, into one simple spiritual entity, the source of all persecution, toxic pride and true depravity: God when his name was invoked in hatred. They assumed various identities, including Ra, prayed by the Egyptians for him to keep the slaves in line and themselves wealthy. When the name "God" was invoked in hatred, the ignrant fueled the word's opposite meaning. This tale was told in opposition to the Old Ones fleeing to an alternate dimension, although it is established many did, under different circumstances.
- Man eventually wrestled control of the planet from the last of the Elder Ones, after the Final Battle with the Elder Gods.
- The Elder Ones left this world for another of their own making. Behind them, left a resonance of their power, described as "an echo of a death scream". That story was recounted in the Chronicles of Magnus Tel Shek and the Book of Ages Past.
- The star-headed Old Ones living in the Mountains of Madness, in Leng, were killed by their slaves, the Shoggoths.
- Asteroth was exiled by her own race into a "cosmic Hell".
- In Earth-1610, Zvilpogghua was allegedly cast into "The Abyss", the N-Zone, by the ancestors of Atlantis and the Old Gods.
After that, many Old Ones remained in their new locations, some inactive, others being summoned or trying to pierce the dimensional barriers of their prisons:
- Some of the Old Ones were stated to slumber in the sea, waiting to reawaken.
- After fleeing to an alternate dimension, the Old Ones dwelt behind the Gate, seeking Earth's dimension to infest humanity. The Gate could only be opened if Yagotha, the Guardian of the Gate, an ancient and horrible being, would turn the key.
Despite the general disappearance of many Old Ones from activity (through death, extradimensional removal, slumber) due to the various events mentioned up here, part of them remained present and active on the Earth plane.
Others, such as, circa 28,500 BC or before, in the hills of Zalgara of Valusia in the middle of summer, an unnamed sorcerer sacrificed seven goats (with Tyre's goat, Devil Butt, last) in the name of the Black Beast of Hell with its Thousand Young to Yagotha, the Guardian of the Gate, to make him turn the key, intending to have the Old Ones do his binding. The sorcerer was killed but not before a frozen horror accessed the Earth's plane and turned the hillside of Zalgara into a frozen wasteland to make the planet hospitable for the Elder Gods. An hero, possibly similar to Kull, came to Zalgara. Using a shield seemingly powered by Valka, he defeated the icy horror that was upon the hills, defeating it into retreat to its voids. Then Yagotha turned the key, closing the Gate upon the Old Ones.
At some point in the Pre-Cataclysmic Age (see notes on Captain Rhan's page), the Captain Ehestes Rhan possessed a few ancient incantations books (though he claimed to have never dabbled in black magic). Rhan was marooned on an isle west of Grebuhl by his crew. While stranded there, Rhan decided to punish the mutineers and to force them to respect the Ancients they despised. He studied the teachings of Set and Mhur in his books. He prayed to the Dark Ones, and to the Great Goat Gods and their brethren, unwillingly summoning a terrible creature only named as "the were-god". The creature seemingly forced Rhan to mate, and later spawned the monstrous Children of Rhan, rapidly aging girls that eventually transform into massive feral creatures if taken away from their birthplace, and causing the weariness of men.
Age of Kull (18,500 BC)
Some men, such as the necromancer Ohris Dehjmal in Valusia, would try to partake from the "wells of evil" left by the Elder Ones, in order to grasp to their power. For his experiments, Dehjmal was sentenced to death.
When told of the story of the Old Ones and the unknown hero, ten thousand years ago, King Kull of Valusia stated that he would oppose the Old Ones, if they were to return into the Earth's dimension.
Hyborian Age of Conan (10,000 BC)
During the Hyborian Age, the Old Ones as a group were unknown of many, and were considered dead. Some Old Ones were sometimes invoked or even summoned or already present on the Earth plane. A few were even gods of cities and official religions.
Invocations and secret worship
To avenge himself from Captain Lupus Dalvalte who tortured him, left him for dead and stole his daughters, Reimos allegedly entered in contact with the Old Ones, the Black Gods of R'Lyeh, the Goat with a Thousand Young and the children of Great Cthulhu, who offered him his spider-infested castle.
Gods of cities and official religions
Gol-Goroth was the god of darkness in the city of Bal-Sagoth. His cult was administered by the high priest Gothan, and an indestructible idol of him existed within the city. His worship was outlawed by Kyrie (who posed and was worshiped as Aala, the sea goddess). Afterwards, Gol-Goroth manifested itself into Bal-Sagoth before the city's destruction.
Thog, the Ancient, was worshiped in the city of Xuthal.
In Zemizar, in Zamora, the Goat God was known as Sahb Delanzar, and was a major religion of the city. The Brotherhood of Sahb Delanzar tried to gather the Thousand Young (the One Thousand sacrifices who would constitute the leaders of Sahb Delanzar's avenging army when it would return to claim and/or consume Earth). That plan was foiled by Conan of Cimmeria.
War with Atlantis
When the Atlanteans came to the seas, they battled the Great Old Ones for millennia, eventually driving them into the depths, killing them or imprisoning them if they couldn't be slain. Prisons included shadow, void, or stone. One such stone was the Unforgotten Stone, which was a solid manifestation of their evil power, or even perhaps their twisted souls. The Unforgotten Stone (and possibly other similar prisons) were entombed by Atlantis, but no matter the security, often escaped on their own (or by being stolen).
Some of the Great Old Ones' spawns persisted, such as the Aqueos, who vampirized Atlanteans, Lemurians, and other undersea peoples (all collectively described as "Vampires") and Faceless Ones. An unidentified "other" type within the Aqueos also existed, believed to be connected to the "ancient, otherworldly evil", the ancient "things".
The Unforgiven Dead (also known themselves as the Old Ones), led by Suma-Ket, worshiped the Old Ones. After Suma-Ket saved Atlantis from an invasion of the Faceless Ones, the Atlanteans slew their king, Harran, the son of Atlantis' founder Kamuu, and proclaimed Ket their king. Along with his followers, Ket brought a reign or terror and a bloodthirsty religion to Atlantis and sacrificed hundreds over many years to their dark gods. Eventually, Kalen, the grandson of Kamuu, assisted by Neptune himself, rallied the people and banished Ket and his followers into the mystic void known as the Grey Waters.
The Old Ones' origin was seemingly unknown to the neophytes of this era, though they were still active.
At the time of World War I, a man, stranded on the sea after a German sea raid, eventually found himself on an island in the South Pacific, inhabited by fishmen who worshiped Dagon and offered him sacrifices in the form of fish and drowned men. He witnessed the horrible sacrificial ceremony and by the coming of Dagon, and was subsequently rendered insane by the experience. The man managed to flee the island and found himself in San Francisco, where he tried to learn more about what he had seen, and wrote down his story, until he was found back by the fishmen. That story was later published by H.P. Lovecraft, with the man as narrator, under the title "Dagon".
Ascent into Hell
Later, while fighting Urthona, Strange was forced to destroy many objects of powers to swipe his enemy, but in doing so released many ancient evils (including the water elemental of the Ancients, and the Old Ones.
He defeated those enemies and their servants, including the water elemental, then then Khats. He then retrieved and contained an artifact created by the Old Ones: the Wings of Needless Sorrow
The Many-Angled Ones whispered their influence to the Captain Marvel of Earth-10011 on his deathbed and convinced him to initiate the ritual of Necropsy that destroyed the avatar of Death and released the Angled-Ones into the universe's plane of existence, causing his universe to eventually become known as the Cancerverse.
On Sanctuary, the corrupted heroes performed the Necropsy ritual, sacrificing the Avatar of Death and thus annihilating Death, allowing the Many-Angled Ones to fully enter their plane of existence. Ms. Marvel and her fellow Avengers were placed under Mar-Vell's service, now calling themselves the Revengers, and headquartered at the Trapezohedron.
Powers and Abilities
The demonic Old Ones exhibited many powers including:
- Partial Manifestation: At least some Old Ones can appear as avatars or partial manifestations of themselves, including Yog Sothoth and Shuma-Gorath.
- Power Bestowal: The Old Ones could bestow bestow powers to other beings, such as Suma-Ket who regularly performed blood sacrifices to the Old Ones for further power. After allegedly entering in contact with the Old Ones, the Black Gods of R'Lyeh, the Goat with a Thousand Young and the children of Great Cthulhu, Reimos was "offered" his spider-infested castle.
- Possession: They could inhabit other beings. Due to his great power, Franklin Richards was allowed to house several of them.
Level of Technology
The Old Ones created and/or possessed artifacts of power, including the Shining Trapezohedran and the Wings of Needless Sorrow. The Elder Ones created and/or possessed various artifacts of power, including the Gem of Earth Fire, and the Crystal of the Elder Ones.
The following entities were also mentioned as Great Old Ones: Lloigoroth, Slorioth, Tsathoggua, and Zvilpogghua. The Chthon was also stated to be one of the Great Old Ones, despite being an Elder God of Earth.
Asteroth, the Black Gods of R'Lyeh, Erlik Khan, Ghaszaszh Nyrih, Gol-Goroth, Kathulos, N'Gabthoth, Nigguraab, Shub-Niggurath (the Black Goat gods), the Toad God, Thog the Ancient, and Yog-Sokkot are confirmed to either Great of Lesser Old Ones.
The Outer Gods (including Azotharoth and Sehdoula, Yog-Sothoth), and the Other Gods (which include only one known member: Nyarlathotep) have been mistaken often enough with the Great Old Ones, at the point they considered the same.
A few among them have been told to lead their brethren:
- Shuma-Gorath was stated to be the Master of the Old Ones.
- Oberoth'm'gozz was the True Faery King of the Old Ones.
- As Sehdoula, Yog-Sothoth was the Lord of the Dark Ones, the Outsiders.
See also the list of known Old Ones.
Some beings might be Old Ones, though it hasn't been confirmed so far:
- The Dark Gods worshiped by Psyklop are unidentified, and might be any of the Old Ones.
- Possible Old Ones.
Among the many names invoked by the denizens of the Cancerverse, presumably those of Many-Angled Ones, were Kthl, Yot-Soter, Shuma-Gorath, and Nyerlathortech. Other, including Llehk, Yoggor. S'geht, and Shoggor (known only for the Jet Mirrors of Shoggor) would be Many-Angled Ones, locations, or something else.
- The Old Ones are demons of the Third Class, and are considered to be key elements and the most notable among that class.
- Despite common elements in origin, there is no evidence that the Old Ones are one and the same race.
- The status of Old One hasn't been seen so far to be transmitted to their direct descendants: Khosatral Khel and Dagoth (spawns of the possible Old One Dagon) have never been stated to be Old Ones themselves as far.
- Many of the Old Ones' names end with the syllable "-oth", an observation that led Ian McNee to suspect Hoggoth to be himself an Old One.
- H.P. Lovecraft first mentioned the Old Ones in "The Call of Cthulhu" (1926).
- Marvel Comics produced various stand-ins for and pastiches (see bellow) of the Great Old Ones, a few of them later confirmed to be the Great Old Ones.
- The many-angled ones are fictional beings linked to the Cthulhu Mythos. They first appeared as the Lloigor (related to Lloigor, an Old One created by August Derleth and Mark Schorer in "The Lair of the Star Spawn" (1932).) in "the Return of the Lloigor" (1969) by Colin Wilson, then in Grant Morrison's story Zenith (1987), where they were known as the many-angled ones.
- The Many-Angled Ones were introduced in Marvel Comics by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, as an alternate name for the Great Old Ones, in the cosmic crossover event "Realm of Kings" (2009): In that story, the Many-Angled Ones corrupted a reality, Earth-10011, in a Lovecraftian way, with many names of that world (at least some being those of Many-Angled Ones) evoking the Cthulhu Mythos: Kthl (Cthulhu), Yot-Soter (Yog-Sothoth), Nyerlathortech (Nyarlathotep), Llehk, Yoggor.
- The Ancients, "beings from the stars" and ancient "things", mentioned in Namor: The First Mutant #3-#4 (November 3 to 24, 2010) as the founders of R'llyeh (which might the source of all magic, and the origin of the Darkhold and the Necronomicon) and the creators of the vampiric Aqueos from Sh'g'th tissue. Based on those aforementioned facts, they appeared to be inspired both by the Great Old Ones, who built the city of R'lyeh, and the Elder Things/Old Ones/Elder Ones from "At the Mountains of Madness" (Astounding Stories; February, March, and April 1936), written by Lovecraft as well), but were confirmed to be the Great Old Ones in King in Black: Namor #2 (December 30, 2020), which tied in the same context the Great Old Ones, the Aqueos (unnamed but clearly depicted), and R'lyeh.
- A few Outer Gods were originally listed as Old Ones, until the demons' profile in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #3 (July, 2008), updating the profile originally published in Marvel Zombies: The Book of Angels, Demons & Various Monstrosities (September, 2007), distinguished the Old Ones (renamed Great Old Ones instead) from three distinct but often confused groups, the Lesser Old Ones, the Outer Gods (though the classifications sometimes varies from the source material), and the Other Gods, were introduced.
Additionally to straight-out appearances, the Old Ones have also appeared as pastiches of some of the original Old Ones.
A few groups of beings have been introduced, who are either more or less inspired by the Old Ones, or are them, yet unconfirmed:
- The Elder Gods as a general classification (some are straight-out Cthulhu Mythos adaptations, other are more or less inspired by the Old Ones).
- The Elder Gods of Earth, the first beings on Earth. The four surviving Elder Gods spawned demonic races that ruled the planet before the rise of man, and at least some of them were more or less inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos: Chthon was the author of the Darkhold (which was copied by Abdul Alhazred as the Necronomicon) and first black magic practitioner, while Oshtur's name was possibly inspired by Hastur.
- The Ancients, who might be contemporary with the Old Ones, or a sub-set from them.
- The Ancients (the same, or another group) lived on the island now known as Island M (a place also related to Shuma-Gorath). It is possible that those Ancients included Shuma-Gorath and were the Great Old Ones.
- To be noted that later, in Carnage Vol. 2 (2016-2017), Chthon was mentioned to be part of a group of "ancient gods", alternatively called "Ancients", "Elder Gods", "Great Old Ones". Given Namor: The First Mutant #3 mentions the Darkhold being originated from the etching of eldritch beings, later confirmed in King in Black: Namor #2 to be the Great Old Ones, it seemingly hints that Chthon was indeed a Great Old One despite being a known Elder God.
- The Dark Gods as a general classification (some are straight-out Cthulhu Mythos adaptations, other are more or less inspired by the Old Ones, and the term Dark Gods is also one of the designations of the Old Ones).
- The Undergods, giant monsters and deities.
Some of those pantheons and/or groups of mysterious ancient deities may be in fact be part of the Great Old Ones, including the Ancients, the Ancient Ones, the Elder Ones, and the Dark Gods worshiped by the Psyklop.
Doctor Who Universe
Some characters appearing in the Doctor Who Comic Books published by Marvel Comics were identified in later sources (not published by Marvel) as Great Old Ones (or their subsets, including the Elder Gods) or of their progeny. Furthermore, some of those alleged Great Old Ones have been hinted or confirmed to be known Lovecraftian Great Old Ones developed in Marvel Comics.
Such examples includes the Great Intelligence, appearing in "Yonder... The Yeti" (Doctor Who Weekly #31-#34; May to June, 1980), who has been stated to be Yog-Sothoth, or the Nestene Intelligence, appearing in "Business as Usual" (Doctor Who Weekly #40-#43; July to August, 1980), mentioned as the progeny of Shub-Niggurath.
Given most of the accounts of characters being Great Old Ones are either contradictory with other sources or revealed in other source material, often published after the time Marvel published Doctor Who comic books, the connections between those entities and the Great Old Ones (or other Cthulhu Mythos elements) will not be taken in account, unless if explicitly mentioned in Marvel Comics, or in sources predating Marvel Comics.
Confusion around the name
- Though sometimes described as "elder gods", because of their old age, the Old Ones are to be distinguished from the Elder Gods of Earth.
- In Avengers Annual (Vol. 2) #2000, the Sons of the Serpent invoked the "Old Ones" and "Cold Ones".
- Alongside others confirmed in comics or handbooks, the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe list as possible Old Ones the "One Who Sleeps beneath the Sands, the false God of the Dead/Grateful Undead", as well as "any of the extradimensional or ancient Earth demons derived from Cthulu/Lovecraft mythos, many used as familiars by Master of Yimsha, Pelias, Thoth Amon, Thugra Khotan, Thulandra Thuu, Xaltotun, Zogar Sag".
- 77 appearance(s) of Great Old Ones
- 23 minor appearance(s) of Great Old Ones
- 36 mentions of Great Old Ones
- 9 image(s) of Great Old Ones
- 35 representative(s) of Great Old Ones
- 2 item(s) used/owned by Great Old Ones
Links and References
- Great Old One, Lloigor (species), and Outer God at the w:c:lovecraft:H.P. Lovecraft Wiki
- Many-Angled Ones at Marvel.com
- Old Ones at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
- Many-angled ones and Lloigor at Wikipedia
- Great Old Ones/Many-Angled Ones at the w:c:villainsVillains Wiki
- Great Old One at the Tardis Wiki