Writer(s): Neil Gaiman
Artist(s): John Romita Jr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Page count: 256
Year Released: 2007
Status: in print
Original Source: Eternals (vol. 4) 1-7
Other Collected Edition(s): paperback edition (ISBN 978-0785121770)
Genres: all ages; adventure; fantasy; science fiction; superheroes; suspense/thriller
Recommended for Fans Of: The Fifth Element; Dark City
Possible Objectionable Material: none
If You Like This Book, Try:
Also in This Series: n/a
Mark Curry is just your average med student interning at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. Lately he's been having vivid dreams about primeval monsters warring with colossal robots half a mile tall. This wouldn't be so bad except that now Mark is being hounded by Ike Harris, a man who claims to know all about his former life as an immortal created by cosmic beings thousands of years ago. But Mark has never even been outside New York. Or has he?
Eternals is the story of a small group of people who seem to have more power than they realize. Why is it that they don't remember their former lives? And will the discovery of a 2000-foot long robot long buried beneath San Francisco's Golden Gate Park provide answers for Mark and his colleagues, or will it bring about the destruction of all of humanity?
My Own 2 Cents
Eternals is a fine example of a superhero-style comic book with elements that could be appealing to a wider audience, except for the fact that it is just too deeply rooted in the soap opera-styled interconnectedness of the superhero medium. In this case, an otherwise self-contained story is marred by the presence of Iron Man and a few mentions of some contemporary "Marvel Universe" subplots that makes it needlessly difficult for readers not immersed in this world to easily follow the story.
Some backstory: the characters known as the Eternals were first created for Marvel Comics by comic book legend Jack Kirby in 1976. His comic book, The Eternals, built upon the hypothesis that human beings had been placed on earth by aliens from another planet, who were then worshipped as gods by mankind. This idea had recently been brought to the public's consciousness in Erich von Däniken's book Chariots of the Gods? and Kirby, whose previous work included such sci-fi titles as New Gods and Kamandi, was eager to explore it.
Kirby's premise was sound, and the first 13 issues were pretty impressive. Beings known as the Celestials visited earth millennia ago to seed the planet with three offshoots of the existing simian inhabitants. First were the humans. Second were the Deviants, bloodthirsty creatures who would plot to enslave the human race. Third were the Eternals, who were immortal beings created to guard over the humans and await the return of the Celestials.
Though this idea went against traditional religious concepts, Kirby's book nonetheless built itself on religious metaphors, with the Deviants appearing to humans as demons and monsters throughout the ages, and the Eternals appearing as demigods, angels, or heroes (such as Hercules). And the Celestials themselves returned to earth in the first issue with the promise of bringing about Judgment Day.
Unfortunately, by the fourteenth issue Marvel Comics had forcefully persuaded Kirby to bring his creation into the fold of Marvel's interior universe, and popular characters such as the Hulk and the Thing (from the Fantastic Four) made appearances that effectively derailed the aims of the book. Shortly thereafter The Eternals was canceled with issue 19.
Gaiman's retelling of the Eternals' story is perhaps more sophisticated than Kirby's superhero-based version of the 1970s, but it lacks a lot of the power and energy that Kirby brought to it. Ultimately, fans of Gaiman's other work (particularly The Sandman) will probably be disappointed by this book, which is at its best simply derivative of the original.
Note: For those interested in Kirby's (admittedly flawed) version, Marvel published a (now out-of-print) hardcover collected edition in 2006 (ISBN 978-0785122050), and has more recently published two in-print softcover volumes. Volume 1 (ISBN 978-0785133131) collects Eternals 1-11; volume 2 (ISBN 978-0785134428) collects Eternals 12-19 and Annual 1. Both retail for $24.99.
Writer(s): Neil Gaiman