There are a lot of comics out there, but some just stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we look at “Eternals” by Kieron Gillen, Esad Ribić, Dustin Weaver, Kei Zama, and Matthew Wilson, published by Marvel Comics.
Who Is This By?
Writer Kieron Gillen is well known around Marvel Comics, and even has been nominated for four different Hugo Awards between 2020 and 2021, even receiving a British Fantasy Award for Best Comic or Graphic Novel for his work on “DIE” in 2021. Gillen has had a vast bibliography across various publishers, including Image Comics (where he wrote the aforementioned “DIE” between 2018 and 2021), Marvel Comics, BOOM! Studios, and Avatar Press. For Image, Gillen wrote works that include “Phonogram” between 2006 and 2016 and “The Wicked + The Divine” between 2014 and 2019. For BOOM! Studios, he has written the ongoing “Once & Future” since 2019. For Avatar Press, he has written Über (begun in 2013, on indefinite hiatus since 2018). Gillen’s writing for Marvel Comics is his most prominent, including the famous run on “Journey Into Mystery” in 2011 and 2012, the “Secret Wars: Siege” miniseries in 2015, the “Star Wars: Darth Vader” series from 2015 to 2016, and its spinoff “Star Wars: Doctor Aphra” from 2016 to 2018, among others.
The magnificent artistry of Esad Ribić has graced various books over the past three decades, primarily at Marvel Comics. His works include the 2004 “Loki” miniseries, 2007’s “Marvel Knights: Silver Surfer,” 2008 to 2009’s “Marvel Knights: Sub-Mariner,” and 2015 to 2016’s “Secret Wars” event. That said, Ribić is perhaps renowned for his illustrations on Jason Aaron’s “Thor: God of Thunder” from 2012 through 2014, which culminated in him returning for Aaron’s finale on the Thor saga with “King Thor” in 2019 and 2020.
Dustin Weaver, the artist on “Eternals: Thanos Rises” #1, was one of the illustrators on “X-Men: Kingbreaker” in 2009, and the primary penciler on the multi-miniseries “S.H.I.E.L.D.” saga with Jonathan Hickman from 2010 to 2018. He also worked on the art for the 1015 “Infinity Gauntlet” miniseries for the ‘Secret Wars’ event.
Kei Zama, the artist on the “Eternals: Celestia” #1 one-shot as part of this take on the Eternals, is relatively new to the scene. Her most notable work seems to be the “Death’s Head” miniseries from 2019.
While Matthew Wilson is perhaps best known recently for his coloring on “Thor” comics for Marvel in various elements of Jason Aaron’s run on the series including his climactic “War of the Realms” event (as well as occasionally afterwards), he also has colored several other books. In other ones for Marvel, he has colored “Fear Itself: The Fearless” from 2011 to 2012, “Runaways” in 2017 through 2019, and “Star-Lord” in 2017, among others. For DC Comics, he colored “Wonder Woman” from 2011 to 2014, and he also was the colorist for Gillen’s aforementioned “The Wicked + The Divine” at Image Comics from 2014 to 2019.
What’s It All About?
The Eternals, a creation of Jack Kirby, have been around since 1976, and have their bases in both fantasy of mythology and technology of science fiction. In a sense, the Eternals, a.k.a. “Homo immortalis,” may be seen as science-bsaed “angels” to their creators the Celestials’ “gods,” often fighting with the quasi-fiendish “Deviants” that act as their opposite number, but perhaps that would simplify things too much. They are, in many senses, true epic characters, those of episodic, wide-reaching stories, though primarily keeping to themselves unless when it can involve others. They are ancient enough to be construed in myth as gods or similarly powerful beings, or at least having an air of connecting to gods, with people such as Ikaris (Icarus), Sersi (Circe), Thena (Athena), Phastos (Hephaestus), and many more.
Having died in a madness-induced mass suicide midway into 2018 (see “Avengers” #4 by Jason Aaron et al.), they have been reborn anew, resurrected by their great Machine in new forms (ones in several cases more similar to the appearance of their incarnations from the 2021 live action film). As such, they are to continue their mission to protect the Celestials, protect the Machine itself, and “correct excess deviation.” That last part may seem rather ominous, and in fact it is, especially in the face of another resurrection: Thanos the Mad Titan, a Titanian Eternal and in many ways their arch enemy. But with this latest resurrection comes a multitude of questions.Continued below
What is the price of eternity, when faced with a cosmic, amoral machine? Across a long enough span of time, what is the worth of a mortal?
Most potently, what happens when immortal beings want to change, when they want to stop an endless war?
What Makes It So Great?
Writing the Eternals can be tricky, as it may be difficult to truly grasp the wide expanse of their characterization and the sheer level of epic storytelling brought forth by Kirby in the 1970s. However, Gillen, as shown by his work in various stories, is more than up to the task. Drawing upon various elements of past stories and incarnations to forge a way into the future, he both examines the earlier works and adds upon them, creating a truly massive scope that has its narrator, the Machine itself, fit right in while encouraging the audience to be a part of it all. It is rare that a story can truly appreciate the quasi-divine nature of its struggle without sacrificing comprehension of the viewer, but Gillen almost makes it look easy.
While the characters are larger-than-life, they are also decidedly relatable in their struggles, and shocking turns are made all the more potent by understating them or even just by the absolutely beautiful artwork of the magnificent Esad Ribić and Matthew Wilson among others.
And there’s also futuristic knights riding on dinosaurs. Which may explain itself in terms of appeal.
How Can You Read It?
“Eternals” is available wherever comic books are sold. “Eternals” #9 is available today, with new issues released monthly, occasionally interspersed with one-shots in between arcs such as “Eternals: Thanos Rises” #1 (September 2021) and “Eternals: Celestia” #1 (October 2021).