Eternals by Neil Gaiman

details
Title: Eternals.
Writer(s): Neil Gaiman.
Artist(s): John Romita Jr.
Inker(s): Danny Miki, Tom Palmer, Jesse Delperdang & Klaus Janson.
Colourist(s): Matt Hollingsworth & Paul Mounts.
Letterer(s): Todd Klein.
PublisherMarvel.

Format
: Paperback.
Release Date: March 15th 2007.
Pages: 276.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781905239573.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

thoughts

There’s a point in our life where we are confronted to an existential crisis. For some, it simply goes through them, impervious to the numerous rumination that it could provoke, as they remain completely content with where they are and what they’re doing in their life. For others, it is a dark and depressive time where nothing makes sense anymore. While there are no answer to our purpose in this world, there is one decision that we are all capable of pondering: to believe or not to believe in who we are. Originally created by the legendary Jack Kirby in 1976, right after establishing the momentous Fourth World and New Gods concepts over at DC Comics in the early 70s, it was in 2006 that critically-acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman and artist John Romita Jr. took it upon themselves to reintroduce the foundational characters know as the Eternals and their own existential plights in a seven issue limited comic book series.

What is Eternals about? The story follows sleep-deprived med student Mark Curry as he encounters a strange individual who believes that he is an Eternal, an immortal super-human created by an alien race called the Celestials. While his strange dreams of an odd life that he has no memory of, brimming with giant gods, mechanical beings, and strange creatures, seem to confirm the deranged man’s stories, he’s not yet ready to confront such an outcome until further proof snaps him back to reality. Unfortunately for him, the Eternals’ battle with Deviants continues and he’s about to question every single thing about his existence as the Dreaming Celestial reawakens from its slumber. Although his relative happiness has kept him numb of such possibilities, what awaits is beyond any mortal’s fancy.

“And he shall rise, as, one day, we also shall rise. We are the changing people. We curse the celestials who scattered us, and we pray to he who sleeps in darkness to preserve us and keep us. Until the end of the world.”

— Neil Gaiman

It’s as Gaiman as it gets. This story serves not as a tribute or homage to these heroes, forgotten by most during Marvel’s Modern Age, but more of a reintroduction of their existence and purpose amidst humans on Earth. Drawing upon his talents to circumscribe characters within a mythological playground, he establishes these heroes while loosely connecting their tale to ongoing events, specifically the enforcement of the Superhero Registration Act that leads up to the consequential events of Civil War. Unfortunately, this story barely scratches the surface and ends on an anticlimactic resolution that clearly leaves the rest of the Eternals’ story in the hands of anyone else who wants to write it. Although there is an intriguing exposition of their age-old battle and ancient origin, the characters have little room to properly grow on the reader with their dialogue and interactions ultimately seeming faded and uninspiring.

Although John Romita Jr.’s art style has often been a difficult selling point, he does execute his mandate with much more technique and flair throughout this graphic novel. His character designs offer a distinctive portrait, mostly observed through size and colour. In fact, the colourist and inkers on this project do a great job in infusing this world with a wide array of flashy colours, almost making a mandatory analogy with a contrast between old and new through primary and secondary colours. Unfortunately, only the final issues give artist John Romita Jr. the opportunity to really explore some of their powers but with the narrative focused extensively on giving fans a preface of these characters, there isn’t much more that can be done to explore their true nature. Nonetheless, there are several bombastic splash panels that emphasizes their otherworldly qualities and promises intriguing things for these characters (which won’t be seen till the nine issue limited series written by Charles Knauf in 2008).

Eternals is an intriguing yet trivial reintroduction of the immortals watching over the rise and fall of civilizations within the Marvel Universe.


EXHIBITA

Arriving in theaters November 5.

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24 comments

  • Yup, Eternals is just so weird, but cannot be anything else as it’s the intellectual (? that’s a big word for it :P) offspring of von Daniken and Hubbard 😉 Curiously, Romita Jr.’s art suits its eerily well for me, the angular features bringing something of primeval art to the whole thing. On the whole, though, the concept seems pretty tired and overused; looks like Hollywood is only now noticing it, judging by Prometheus and that sort of stuff 😉
    Great review, Lashaan! Are you excited for the movie?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having never read or heard of von Daniken and Hubbard till now (I also looked it up now) and wow, it sure does sound derivative to their story… And you’re right. They aren’t a big deal and there’s barely as much material as you’d imagine around them. Guess that should change with the new Eternals comic book series and everything else going further…

      I went to see Shang Chi this week and I have to say that I’m growing quite tired of their formulaic narrative. This one played out like a video game. New level, new bits of story exposition, new side quest, big bad final villain, etc. If anything, it’s a fun movie but it’s cinema. I’m hoping Eternals will shake things up under Chloe Zhao’s direction but I fear it might still stick closely to their $$$$ winning formula.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Learning something new every day 😁 I feel like MCU/Disney destroyed so many of the best stories that now they’re reduced to scraping the bottom of the barrel for characters who have nothing to do with the Marvel main ones 😜

        And you’re completely right, their stories are so formulaic and dumbed down without any ambiguity or invitation to think. This brings money so as long as people will want to watch it they won’t change.

        I don’t think I’m going to watch either Shang Chi or Eternals in the cinema – I guess I’ll just wait for Matrix 4 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • True, true. Although now that they’ve pretty much finalized their purchase of Fox, they have Fantastic Four and the X-Men universe to work with. Let’s see if they’re going to copy-paste that formula onto those upcoming movies or if they’ll finally dare do something more original…

          Of anything releasing in theaters soon, I have high hopes for Dune Part 1 too. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  • I’m not familiar with their history or stories. But I’m curious, where this is a reintroduction of older characters into current storylines, how well does the story stand on its own? Would someone still enjoy it if not already familiar with Civil War and any other larger events they’ve linked in? Or is it better sutied to folks already deeply into the Marvel universe? I will be interested in checking out the movie, though a lot of the suit designs have sort of an Asgardian look to me. I’m worried it might end up being just more of the same, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed (trying to keep some optimism alive, eh?). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • With people being now even more familiar with Civil War because of the movie, I don’t think it’ll have much incidence on their enjoyment of this story. In fact, that little angle, mostly explored through one famous Marvel character budding into the Eternals’ business, is also not quintessential to the larger story arc. This being a stand-alone graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, it also didn’t end up giving us more of these characters too. I’d have to try out the other reboots by other writers to see if they explore more or not.

      As for the movie being more of the same, I can already say that I went to see Shang Chi this week and realized how formulaic the movie is (it pretty much plays out like a linear video game with the mandatory boss battle at the end). It was still fun and action-packed but them not wanting to try new things makes it all very derivative… I’m honestly hoping that Eternals can shake things up for us and offer something more intriguing to explore and contemplate for the future of the MCU.

      Like

  • Whenever I read a book and I quite enjoy it, I start holding my breath as I get closer to the ending. Sometimes the last couple of pages (or chapters) can overshadow the rest of the book. It makes me very sad when I encounter books that are good but have bad endings.

    Liked by 1 person

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