This article contains SPOILERS for Defenders Beyond #2
The mysterious Infinity Stones finally have their own origin story – with the all-powerful Celestials of Eternals fame, and the two are inextricably linked. The Six Stones (referred to as Gems in the comics until very recently) are extremely powerful items that allow a wielder to control a fundamental aspect of the Marvel Universe (Space, Time, Reality, Mind, Soul, and Power). Defenders Beyond #2 reveals important facts about the Stones and the Celestials – as well as their dark purpose in both the MCU and the comics.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Infinity Stones have existed on film since 2011 Captain America: The First Avenger (the space stone was disguised as a Tesseract, similar in shape to a cosmic cube). Little or no origin is given for the objects other than the fact that they appeared during the Big Bang. Thanos sought out the Stones to destroy half of all life in the universe – but unbeknownst to him, that might actually be the Infinity Stones’ intended purpose. According to Defenders Beyond series, the Stones exist specifically to destroy – which would certainly put Thanos’ actions in a whole new light; the Mad Titan only used the stones as intended.
In Defenders Beyond #2written by Al Ewing with art by Javier Rodriguez, the Beyonder (the villain of the 1986 Secret Wars Marvel crossover event) reveals the secrets of the Celestials and the origin of the Universe to the reader. “A stratum of the first beings took on vibrant colors, defying their monochromatic congeners”, the Beyonder explains, referring to the black and white versions of the same beings seen in Infinity Wars. “They became the Celestials.” The two beings fought in a war that defies description and created the Second Cosmos.
Monochromatic versions of divine beings have been seen before in Infinity Wars #5, in which Loki revealed that the first Celestials were the source of the Infinity Stones – and they deposited the Stones in each universe, hoping that they would eventually be used to destroy each of them. Although aspirants cannot directly wage war in person, they can create items that others can use to wreak untold destruction for them. Thanos is one of those beings, but he only seeks to eradicate half of all life – presumably there are others in other universes who seek the outright eradication of the universe or universes.
These massive revelations suggest that there are two types of Celestials – one who creates and one who destroys – and those who are bent on destroying “throw stones” (as Loki puts it) into unwitting universes. Beings who seek ultimate power like Thanos eventually find these stones and, unwittingly or not, cause their destruction. The Infinity Stonesthe light at Defenders Beyondare no longer artifacts of the previous universe – they are weapons of mass destruction sent down by destructive Celestials.