Eternals 8 cover
The latest series to showcase Jack Kirby’s near immortal race of genetically advanced humans, The Eternals, has been a highly enjoyable one. Picking up right where Neil Gaiman’s masterful Eternals mini –series left off, which re-introduced them to the Marvel Universe, this current series has touched on and elaborated on Gaiman’s plot threads. Many of the Eternals who were in a state of amnesia and living “normal” lives were awakened either by Ikaris and Thena, working under their benevolent leader, Zuras or Druig and his group of supremacist Eternals bent on, what else, world domination. We also started to get a resolution of the Dreaming Celestial’s storyline, Markkari’s role as Communicator to the Dreaming Celestial and Ajak’s jealously of his no longer having that role and, as a result, ambiguity of motivation in this new age of the Eternals. Add to these developments the story of Thena’s child being the eyes and ears of The Horde, a race of devourers summoned by the Dreaming Celestial, and we got the foundation of a great many installments of an interesting and character driven drama that was to be enjoyed for years to come. Oh yeah, the art wasn’t too shabby either!
Then the Astonishing X-Men show up in issue 7 and take up a large amount of the panels, dialogue and plot of issue 8. Don’t misunderstand me, I love the X-Men, and have for years, but when you see Wolverine grace the cover of a series which he has or has had little to do with its characters or story line it can mean a couple of things: 1) the series that Wolverine and The X-Men are guest starring in is so hot that it warrants the golden touch of a guest appearance by one of Marvel’s hottest selling group of characters or 2) the series that one of Marvel’s hottest selling group of characters are guest starring in is languishing at the bottom of the sales rankings and their appearance in the book is a desperate attempt to boost sales, possibly for the last three issues of the series’ run.
Unfortunately, this scenario seems to be the case with Eternals. The blurb toward the end, “Stay with us for the FINAL CHAPTER in The Eternals Saga entitled: To Defy the Apocalypse!” seems truly to mark what looks like the end to one of Marvel’s more obscure but well written and drawn series. Gaiman’s re-launch of the Eternals with his mini-series, which was penciled by John Romita, Jr., breathed new life into what was one of Kirby’s most interesting and intriguing ideas. A race of near immortal beings that guarded over the Earth for eons and along the way were mistaken, in different historical periods, for different mythological gods. Their names tip off who they were perceived to be: Ikaris=Icarus, Thena=Athena, Makkari=Mercury, Zuras=Zeus, Sersi=Circe and so on. Gaiman’s series left the Eternals next writer a perfect plot line for which to continue the story. The awakened Eternals would go forth and find and awaken other Eternals (a plot device used just as effectively in Marvel’s new Thor series where Thor had to revive and “awaken” the Asgardian Gods living amongst us as mere mortals). The Knaufs’ Eternals story picked up on this thread, followed through on it, and delivered some great issues during its run. I for one was hooked.
It’s a shame that it appears that we’ll not see any further development or complete resolution to the battle between Ikaris and Druig as well as the machinations of Ajak. It would be interesting and fascinating to see potential storylines develop regarding Thena’s child, Sersi’s path back to the land of the living, and Druig’s domination schemes. I can even imagine a series of one-shots showcasing a different Eternal in a different era of history helping or hindering mankind’s development. Imagine a story where Ikaris plays a Promethean role to a group of early humans, teaching them how to make fire, or maybe Thena appearing as Athena to spark Socrates’ philosophical quest. How about a battle between Ikaris as Osiris and Druig as Set in ancient Egypt? Not only would these be great stories but would prove to introduce scores of readers young and old to historical figures and myths that might grab their interest and inspire them to seek out the works and tales of some of history’s great minds and stories.
Hopefully there will be a place within the Marvel Universe for the Eternals to inhabit and contribute to if we are truly approaching the end of their current series. I have enjoyed this series and will look forward to further appearances by this, not so hot selling, but definitely interesting and engaging group of Kirby/Marvel characters.