Super Types

August 26, 2012

Marvel Snapshot: Character Spotlight: The Eternals

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Written by: Billy
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Hey everybody, welcome back to another great character spotlight in Marvel Snapshot! It’s been quite a while since I had a Marvel spotlight, so it better be a good one, eh? The recent social media battles led me to make an easy decision on the subject matter. I hearkened back to a time when this kind of stuff either didn’t go on, or wasn’t privy to every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a computer. Back in 1976, Jack Kirby created something that was undeniably real, and original. The Eternals were going to be his coupe de grâce with Marvel, and in my opinion they were! He wrote and drew all the 19 issues plus an annual himself back then, and there were subsequent series, too, that I’ll talk about.

Eons ago, the Celestials came to Earth, and decided to conduct experiments on humans, thus creating a new form called Eternals. These heroic beings also have to contend with the ugly Deviants. The Deviants are the complete opposite of the Eternals in that they are evil, and also most of them are grotesque in appearance. The battle between these two races will seemingly go on forever, even with the dwindling population of Deviants.

In the original mini-series (Kirby, 1976), we saw the origins of this magnificent race, and also the plots of the jealous and mad Deviants. There were also a couple of Deviants that defected and became allies of the Eternals. Karkas and Reject. Karkas is the typical Deviant in that he looks like a monster, but Reject was a very attractive looking man. This caused him to be at odds with his fellow Deviants, because they’re all deformed and monstrous in appearance. The main theme throughout the first series is that the Eternals are preparing for the return of their creators, the Celestials. The great and powerful beings return to Earth every 1,000 years to judge the planet’s population and see if they are fit to continue, or need to be “cleansed” or eradicated. The first mini-series didn’t resolve that problem, but soon after in the pages of Thor (Eternals Saga), we did see an ending to that story line.

Years later, in 1985, another mini-series was released (12 issues, by Peter B. Gillis and Walt Simonson). It basically showcased another battle between the Eternals and Deviants, featuring Kro and Ghaur mostly. Not a bad series, but certainly not as entertaining as the first. There was a one-shot released in 2000 that was pretty good called The New Eternals: Apocalypse Now. It presented a confrontation between the Eternals and Apocalypse. This was interesting on one hand because of the dynamic between the two factions (survival of the fittest), but it failed slightly because it said that there was a previous encounter between them, and then didn’t really get into that history much at all.

In 2006, Neil Gaiman was given the reigns to these characters for yet another mini-series. Even though his story was seemingly either a retcon or out of continuity, it was fantastic. The premise was that most of the Eternals have lost their memory and are living among the populace of Earth as regular human beings. Sprite, the young trickster, was apparently angry about having to remain a child, and used his magic powers to erase the memories of his fellow Eternals. The Deviants then kidnap Makkari, and try to awaken the Dreaming Celestial. Shenanigans ensue, and the Eternals that start to remember who they are go and seek out others to enlighten them. I’m not usually a fan of John Romita Jr.’s artwork, but it was actually pretty good in this series.

As usual, check out my recommended reading list, because when you have names like Kirby and Gaiman writing, this can’t be missed! See you next time.

Recommended Reading
The Eternals (1976) Omnibus
Thor: The Eternals Saga – Tpb vol. 1 & 2
Eternals (1985) #1-12 limited series
New Eternals: Apocalypse Now (2000) one-shot
Eternals (2006) – Tpb


Billy Dunleavy



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