I finished Eternals by Neil Gaiman today! It was a very different kind of read for me because I don’t normally read comics. This was a compilation of the seven volumes that came out in 2006-2007. However, the original Eternals comics were written by Jack Kirby back in 1976. The reason I picked this particular comic is because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming out with an adaptation of the Eternals and since I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s works it seemed like the obvious place to start for me.
The Eternals are 100 beings that were created by the Celestials. The Celestials are another type of being that came from outer space and basically started out a kind of experiment on Earth where they examined an ape-like creature (precursor to humans), played around with its genetic material and created what would be the perfect being, one that wouldn’t age, would have special powers, and would live to protect the experiment that they were setting up. On the other hand they created the Deviants, who had an unstable genome, were prone to constant mutations, and which created deformed beings that were not ideal.
In this particular set of comics we find that the Eternals have forgotten that they are immortal and that they have superpowers. They are living like normal human beings as medical students, party organizers, scientists, and even gardeners. One of the Eternals, Ikaris, does remember and is trying to get others to do the same since there’s some trouble brewing. We also get a peek at how the superhero world is doing, there is now mandatory registration for superheroes and even a superhero reality competition!
Another thing that was very interesting to me was the philosophy and theories on the origin of life on Earth. Of course there are multiple theories on how intelligent life came about but the one saying that it came about from outer space is a very popular one. While we can have many theories regarding the origins of life, it is something that we might never really know for sure how it happened. These comics give a possible answer of these Celestials, scientists in their own way, setting up various experiments in what might be many different worlds (can’t imagine they’d only do it once on Earth), and seeing what happens. It was also cool to see the flashbacks to how the Eternals interacted with ancient civilizations, from Egypt to Greece to Mexico and how they were basically the gods in those ancient civilizations. That in itself made me curious to go and read the other installments of these comics.
The characters were interesting but I did feel like there was less character development than I expected and I’m not sure if it is because of the format of the story (comic vs novel) or if it has to do with the fact that I haven’t read all the other comics featuring these characters. That being said, there were some characters that I did like right away, like Thena and Zura. Thena is a scientist in her human life and actually is creating some weapons for the government while Zura is a homeless man who is lost in his mind. After they remember that they are Eternals they awake other characteristics, like confidence, leadership, and determination to figure out what they need to do next.
The artwork was wonderful, I loved all the colors and the intensity that Romita was able to bring to each scene and each character. I also loved the fonts that were used in different panels to show that some characters are probably talking in different languages or are speaking telepathically. It was very intuitive and just a great addition to the experience.
I mentioned previously that I’m changing my rating system and well, there isn’t one! Ha! I realized that rating systems aren’t particularly consistent unless I stick to a specific type of book or genre or even author. And so what I will be doing now is talking more about who I’d recommend read the book. Sort of a “if you like this you might like this” etc.
Overall I really enjoyed this comic, like I said, I’d like to check out the other installments involving the Eternals at some point as well. I would recommend this collection of comics to anyone who wants a background on who the Eternals are in preparation for the Marvel movie. I’d also recommend it to people interested in a very different kind of superhero story since the Eternals are not self-described superheroes. Their priorities are definitely different than the Avengers’ so it’s a really interesting perspective.
Do you read comics regularly? Are you a fan of the MCU?