Eternals: Gateway into the Marvel Cosmic Universe
The Marvel Universe is a vast and somewhat daunting universe to get into. I’ve been reading Marvel comics for most of my life and there are still many corners that I haven’t reador even heard about. The Eternals were a species I heard about in passing whenever someone mentioned the Celestials but never really got into or read about.
With the news that they’re joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe soon. I thought there’d be no better time to get into them. No better jumping on point than Neil Gaiman’s limited series back in 2006.
Taking place shortly after the first Marvel Civil War, penned by Gaiman and accompanied by John Romita Jr’s stylistic art. Eternals is the perfect jumping on point for new readers. By introducing a narrative tool that is far too common for everyon – Amnesia.
Meet the Eternals, Deviants and Celestials
We’re introduced to the main roster of Eternals that have seemingly lost their memories. Now leading normal lives as young adults in the big city. Most Neil Gaiman approaches are bound to take many twists, turns and end up as an engaging and distinct narrative.
The story which is about these characters remembering who they are ends up as a deeply impactful and powerful character study into the minds of Ikarus, Makkari, Sersi and Thena. As their normal human lives slowly unravel and their past memories come flooding back to reveal their true nature and explain the history of the Eternals, the Deviants and the Celestials along with them.
An interesting aspect of the MU to say the least that brings a lot of insight about the origins of the homo sapiens versus their homo superior brethren. I can definitely see how the Eternals could be used as an entry way to introduce mutants and enhanced individuals to the MCU which is what is being theorized about right now.
Gaiman excels in World Building
Getting back to the storyline. Gaiman excels in going back and forth with the present time and the past. Keeping the reader hooked on the current events while also giving excellent and smooth exposition to different characters and settings. This goes for the characters’ personalities, attributes, histories and powers. It’s all introduced in an easily digestible way that doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.
The dialogues are raw, real and punchy. Something Gaiman excels at in my opinion. His writing in this series really shows why he’s the master of his craft. The way he’s able to condense volumes of backstory and present them in digestible bites for new readers while also offer an entertaining storyline is nothing short of astounding.
Gaiman’s words are brought to life by icon John Romita Jr (X-Men, Daredevil, Iron Man). His unique lines are distinguishable and bring a weight with them that works really well in the themes of this book. The first few issues give a pseudo neo-noir feel that is only enriched by Romita Jr’s heavy inks and broad strokes. Marvel would’ve struggled to find a better artist who could have delivered the weight, emotion and fantastical elements like Romita Jr has.
Along with Matt Hollingsworth’s colors, which make the panels pop in their own right but also blend together in a beautiful way that makes each page feel and look personalized. The art reads like an homage to classic Kirby. Giving a kind of contemporary modern twist to a tale as old as time and offering this piece of the Marvel universe to a new audience. This reason and many others is what makes the Eternals a must read for Marvel fans young and old.
Rick Berry draws the covers for the 7-issue run. These feel like paintings worthy of being hung up in a museum of art rather than comic book covers. With their uniform color scheme, oil on canvas looking strokes and beautiful lines. These covers make you want to collect this mini-series issue by issue just to marvel (yeah, I went there) at them because they look that good.
Neil Gaiman’s Eternals is an excellent starting point for the cosmic part of the Marvel universe and has, without a doubt, increased my knowledge and peaked my interest. To delve further into the weirder and out-there sides of the Marvel universe. While the Eternals may be a holier-than-thou species that lack the humanity that is essential for identification and relatability.
I believe that Gaiman’s approach and giving them amnesia for the beginning of the arc is just what they needed to gain that bit of humanity to make them endearing to the new reader. That’s one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book so much and why I will be reading other Eternals storylines in anticipation of their movie debut in the next few years.