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.
Release Date: March 15th 2007.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating:
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.