Neil Gaiman & John Romita, Jr.’s “Eternals”

47694[1]This is a solid enough soft reboot of a series I knew nothing about. The Eternals are a race of immortal beings created to guard and protect the Earth from whatever various threats, from both without and within.  These beings were mistaken for gods by primitive mankind throughout the history of civilization, and were the foundation for many of our myths.  They once raged a war against a race of beings known as “The Deviants”.  Some time after that… something mysterious happened, and now only one of the Eternals, Ike Harris, remembers anything about their near-million-year history.

I now know that The Eternals was a new series created for Marvel by Jack Kirby in his Craziness-In-Space 70s phase.  It ran for about 20 issues, and is reasonably well regarded.  Certainly, it looked pretty.  The characters were folded into the Marvel Universe, and some were used from time-to-time over the next 30 or so years.  Looking for something exciting to work on after the success of 1602, Marvel and Gaiman hooked up once again, and re-introduced the Eternals.

Take one part The Fifth Element, one part Ancient Aliens, and just a dash of The Highlander… the story’s premise was interesting. I enjoyed the characters greatly. Gaiman’s dialogue was sometimes serious, sometimes light hearted, and worked over-all.   As it’s an introduction to these characters, there are several plot-lines laid out.  Some seem to reference Kirby’s original work, some seem to hint towards a future story arc.  Unfortunately, since this is an introduction story that didn’t really get picked up…  In the end, it kind of feels like Lostwith several story threads going unanswered.

As far as the art is concerned, I’m not really a fan of Romita Jr. Generally, I’m mostly familiar with him from his redesign–yeah, I’m going to call his tiny, skinny-framed, wide-eyed, oddly-shaped head grossness a redesign–of Spider-man.  Maybe it was just that I didn’t like the Romita Jr. look for Spidey that turned me off of him, though.  These were characters I didn’t have an attachment to, nor an expectation of how they should look, and I found the art to be good at worst and–in some places–actually pretty great.  I especially enjoyed any of the big two page spreads.  They really added a “See?  I remember Jack, too.” feeling, while at the same time, showcased what JRJ is capable of doing, himself.

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One of the biggest setbacks of the book, is the story.  The idea that aliens came, and left behind this race of Prometheuses (Promethei?) is very appealing to me.  But this grand premise is not only shoehorned into the Marvel Universe, where gods and aliens are a dime a dozen, but also manages to get jammed square in the middle of their “Civil War” fiasco.*    Interestingly, Zuras, at one point, effectively tells Iron Man “I don’t give a shit about your Civil War.” which is precisely how I felt about Marvel Comics at the time this launched.

I’m not sure of the history on this book, but it’s just good enough that I’m disappointed it didn’t get picked up for more after it’s intro-arc finished.

3/5

*If you don’t remember, Marvel’s Civil War was when Iron Man and Captain America had a falling out on whether the entire meta-human community should out their secret identities to the world… because that’s not exactly the kind of leads-to-genocide evil government shit that the X-Men had been fighting against for about 45 years. It’s just one in the long line of Events that has made me want to nuke the comic industry from orbit.

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6 comments on “Neil Gaiman & John Romita, Jr.’s “Eternals”

  1. You know, I’d almost managed to forget Civil War… what an unholy pile of dreck that was…

    Here’s a hint to any comics character and any comics writer. If you have Captain America on the other side, you’re on the wrong side.

    • I let off so many nerdrage rants at Heroclix tournaments during that run. Two or three local guys loved, not liked… loved the dynamic of the event. They repeatedly gave it their all, trying to convince me that it was not just perfectly reasonable, but to his advantage for Spidey to unmask publicly…. and not in the least bit against character,

      • Really? The guy whose fiancee was murdered explicitly because an enemy learned who he was, and they couldn’t see why it was so out of character for him to publicly unmask?

        Not to mention the absurd continuity snarl that resulted in…

      • The only thing Spidey did more in his comics (when I was reading) than explain why it was so important for him to keep his secret, was get stuck under a building or boulder and “dig deep” remembering all the things he had to fight for (Mary Jane, Aunt May, Uncle Ben’s lesson)

        I can kinda forgive the continuity thing… if only because to even be reading Spidey in the early ‘aughts required forgiving the Clone Saga…

        Of course… Clones and Civil War and Deals with the Devil have nothing on the ludicrousness of the Superior Spider-man…

        Superhero comics are basically unreadable right now, if you’ve got any attachment to a character what-so-ever.

  2. I remember getting this back in the day and being reasonably entertained by it, but it’s certainly no 1604.

    Your synopsis makes me realize that Gaimen borrowed one of the central conceits here (guy with amnesia doesn’t realize he’s a god) from Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber. Which is a cool thing to borrow from.

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