February 5, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Noteworthy Issues: Eternals #1 (January, 2021)

The Eternals can never die, and besides, they had a movie coming out.

Look, if the Eternals were hitting the big screen thanks to the MCU, it only makes sense that Marvel Comics would give them another series to try and either build hype or take advantage of their potentially bigger audience after the movie came out.

But they at least got the right writer for it.

Issue:  Eternals #1, January 2021

Writer:  Kieron Gillen

Artist:  Esad Ribic

The Plot:  Recently revived Eternals Ikarus and Sprite investigate a murder as they both get back into the swing of living again.

Commentary:  OK, so, there are a lot of good writers out there who could take on legendary characters like the Eternals, beings who aren’t quite gods but are often mistaken for them, and make a run of it.  And, quite frankly, Kieron Gillen is a good choice.  He already did a lot of work with the nature of divinity over in his Image series The Wicked + The Divine, and while that used gods as popstars, the Eternals are also of a nearly divine sort of power themselves, so it makes sense to me.

To begin, Jason Aaron’s Avengers run actually opened with a mass Eternal suicide when they realized their true purpose, among other things, was that they were unable to actually do anything to the Celestials, and with a Celestial threat coming, there was no reason to keep living.  However, the Eternals whole thing is that they really don’t stay dead, and even if killed, they have a resurrection machine that, in this issue, is located between some molecules in Antarctica.

Yeah, Gillen and artist Esad Ribic do a great job of making the Eternals’ power more mysterious and impressive.  The resurrection cite, the Exclusion, is huge, but it exists on a subatomic level.

Regardless, Ikarus returns to life, one of the last to do so, and he’s tasked with bringing Sprite home.  Sprite has been “dead” since Neil Gaiman’s take on the characters, and here Sprite is revived in a rebooted form well before he turned on the others, only now Sprite is a she (and despite Ribic’s otherwise great artwork, I really couldn’t tell Sprite was supposed to be female aside from how the text kept saying she was).  Sprite has no memory of the past few centuries, and Ikarus is stuck having to explain something to one of the Eternals that he wishes would just go away forever.  That means Sprite missed pretty much everything since Medieval times, and the sight of someone like Iron Man provokes more confusion than anything else.

This issue, for the most part, is there to establish the Eternals’ status quo.  They oppose the Deviants, but only the violent ones that attack humans.  Most Deviants don’t do that sort of thing, so most Deviants are left alone.

But then comes the unexpected as Ikarus and Sprite arrive in the Eternal city of Olympia:  Zuras, the Eternals’ leader, is dead.  Someone murdered him.  Yes, they could just wait for him to revive and ask him who, but they can also look around, sending Ikarus and Sprite off to find a possible suspect, and that suspect, well, he’s a big one on the last page.

As first issues go, not bad at all.  The Eternals are not really favorite characters of mine.  I’m not sure they are favorite characters for most people, honestly, and I doubt the movie changed that for a lot of folks.  It fits in with established continuity for anyone who cares.  Anyone who doesn’t can go look those issues up.  Sprite’s gender flip puts the character closer to what was in the movie.  It establishes a personality for the main characters while likewise giving their powers a scope that can’t be achieved simply by drawing big things.  And yeah, the last page brings in a very recognizable bad guy who maybe killed Zuras.  Or he didn’t and he’s a red herring.  Anyway, good start.  I’ll have to see if Shang-Chi got a new series too…even though I am fairly sure he did.

Grade:  B+

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