Comic Book Review: Eternals #1

The Revolution was clearly devastated by the news that the Knaufs were not returning to Iron Man: Director of SHIELD. My pain was eased a bit with the fact that I would still be able to enjoy the Knaufs work over on the Eternals. I was not all that impressed with Gaiman’s Eternals mini-series. Hopefully, the Knaufs can get me more excited about the Eternals with this new monthly than the mini-series did. It certainly is a good time to be a Kirby cosmic character as it appears that Marvel is determined to give a big push to the Eternals at the same time that DC is overhauling Kirby’s New Gods. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Eternals #1.

Creative Team
Writers: Charles and Daniel Knauf
Artist: Daniel Acuna

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a quick re-cap of Neil Gaiman’s Eternals mini-series. Basically, that a rogue Eternal, Sprite, trapped the Eternals in human form and made them forget who they were. Ikaris managed to “wake up” and regain his memories of who he was and proceeded to go around Earth to “wake up” his fellow Eternals.

Unfortunately, Druig, an evil Eternal, went around doing the same thing in order to enlist more Eternals to support him in his bid to be the ruler of all the Eternals. The Deviants captured Makkari, a good Eternal working with Ikaris, and used him to awaken the Dreaming Celestial who in turn signaled for the Horde to come devour the Earth. The Dreaming Celestial stands over San Francisco watching mankind until the Horde arrives to destroy the planet.

Now, the Ikaris on one side races against Druig on the other side to find the other lost and “sleeping” Eternals before the Horde arrives on Earth. The question remains if the Eternals can gather all their forces and then stop fighting with each other in order to come together to defeat the Horde.

We cut to Dreamspace and see Makkari talking with the Dreaming Celestial. Makkari tells the Dreaming Celestial that he would like to locate the other Eternals. The Dreaming Celestial proceeds to scan the entire Earth and systematically catalogue each and every person on the planet past or present who has powers above the level of a normal human.

Makkari comments that it sound like the Dreaming Celestial is probing their strengths and weaknesses and recording their defenses. The Dreaming Celestial says that he has the power to destroy this solar system, but that is not his intention. The Dreaming Celestial says that his mission is “to serve the fulcrum.”

We shift to Ikaris, Thena and Joey, Thena’s son, in a car headed for New Orleans. We see someone narrating the scene. The narration says “Unit 2934.78 transmitting. Monitor and disseminate. The Eternals have been warned of our approach.” The mysterious voice continues to say that the Eternals are attempting to awake all of their people with the intention of marshalling a defense against “us.” (The Horde.)

The voice then scans and identifies Ikaris and Thena’s names and powers. Ikaris complains to Thena that when they wipe out the false memories implanted in the “sleeping” Eternals by Sprite that they are free to write whatever new memories they so desire. Thena counters that what Ikaris is talking about is exactly what Druig does when he awakens “sleeping” Eternals.

Ikaris agrees that the method may be offensive, but they are dealing with the Horde and the possible destruction of Earth. Ikaris says that they will need the power of every single Eternal working together to defeat the Horde.

Thena insists that each Eternal must be guided to recovering their own true memories and for them to then decide of their own free will if they want to follow Ikaris or Druig.

We then cut to Makkari still in the Dreamscape locating another “sleeping” Eternal. His name is Philip Stoss and he is working for a motor works company in Germany. Suddenly, Makkari hears his voice in the background. We see Reed and Sue Richards on vacation saying “Makkari.” We then see Iron Fist saying “Makkari. Wake up!” We see Punisher about to shoot a criminal saying “Makkari! Wake up!”

Makkari then gets a vision of the Horde streaking through space on their way to Earth. Makkari then wakes up on the sofa in his loft in San Francisco that he shares with Sersi. Sersi is sitting next to him. Makkari tells Sersi that he saw the Horde. Sersi tells Makkari that he has been in a fugue state for two days. Sersi tells Makkari that his heart stopped about twelve hours ago. Sersi says that Makkari was dead.

We cut to Druig’s stronghold in the Democratic People’s Republic of Vorzheika. Druig watches his military forces parade through the main street of the city. Druig thinks how being surrounded by humans is like being locked in a hothouse of rotting meat. That the curdling stench and the crackling whisper of maggots feasting rings in his ears. Druig thinks how he feels like vomiting. That his eyes water and his nostrils burn with the revolting carnal stink. Druig says that the putrid meat gazes up from its own polluted filth and tears open a bleeding mouth and cries “Hail Commissar Druig.”

We see one of Druig’s generals entering the room. The general reports that they have located the one that Druig seeks. The general says that they could find these people much quicker if Druig would give them more information to work with. Druig snaps that they will do what he asks with the information he gives them. Druig then takes the information from the General and looks at a photo of a preacher with sunglasses.

We shift to Ironton, Louisiana to a rural black church where the preacher, Reverend Lester, from Druig’s picture is giving a classic hellfire and brimstone sermon. We slide forward to after the sermon and see the preacher sitting outside drinking an alcoholic beverage. A young female hottie approaches Reverend Lester and says that she needs to talk to him about sinning.

We hop to Ikaris and Thena getting gas for their car. Ikaris wishes that they could simply attack Druig’s country of Vorzheika. Thena reminds Ikaris that Zuras gave his word that they would not interfere with Druig as long as he remains inside Vorzheika.

Thena then mentions that Sersi told her that Makkari’s bond with the Dreaming Celestial has become troubling. Ikaris responds that Makkari’s bond with the Celestial is the only edge they have right now. We then see the narration box from the mysterious unit 2934.78 stating that this Makkari warrants further investigation.

We cut back to Sersi and Makkari’s loft. Sersi is angry and tells Makkari that he has to stop communicated with the Dreaming Celestial. Sersi says that Makkari should leave it to Ajak. Makkari replies that he cannot since Ajak cannot be trusted. Makkari says he doesn’t know why Ajak can’t be trusted. Just that he cannot be. Makkari states that if he had to cease existing in order to save the humans and the Eternals then he would not hesitate to do so. Sersi goes to slap Makkari, but he catches her arm. Makkari then streaks out of the loft using his super speed.

We hop back to the Reverend Lester finishing having some sweet delicious sex with the young hottie from his church. Suddenly, the girl points and screams that the Devil is here to come take them away. Reverend Lester tells her to relax that there is no such thing as the Devil. Reverend Lester is then stunned speechless by the appearance of Druig.

Druig tells the girl to run. Druig then grabs the Reverend and says “Legba.” Suddenly, the Reverend Lester turns into his true Eternal form. We then see Ikaris and Thena streaking onto the scene. Druig shifts into his Eternal armor and we have a fight on our hands.

Ikaris and Thena get the upper hand and order Druig to leave Legba alone. Druig then offers a trade. A life for a life. Suddenly, we see Druig using his mind powers to turn on Ikaris’ car with Thena’s sleeping son, Joey, inside. Druig locks the doors and commands the car to roll into a nearby lake.

Ikaris dives into the water and tears off the car door. We see the narration box from unit 2934.78 stating that imminent lethal event threatens host organisms. That it will initiate self-atomization process in twenty seconds.

However, Ikaris manages to rescue Joey and his puppy and pull them to dry land. Unit 2934.78 then cancels the self-atomization process. Unit 2934.78 says that host organism Joey Eliot is unharmed. That the unit will continue transmission. End of issue.

Comments:
The Good: Eternals #1 was a solid debut issue. The Knaufs faithfully follow behind Gaiman’s mini-series. This debut issue follows pretty much exactly where Gaiman left off. The Knaufs certainly do an excellent job of making Eternals #1 new reader friendly by employing a fantastic re-cap page to start this issue. The thorough re-cap page effectively summarizes Gaiman’s mini-series. There is no need for a reader to have had to read the previous mini-series in order to enjoy the Knaufs’ Eternals.

The Knaufs definitely took an understated approach with this debut issue. After reading their entire run on Iron Man, I was not surprised in the least bit that they took this approach. However, it may cost them with some fans. The Knaufs are not interested in cranking out a quick cheap hook with the first issue. The Knaufs are not looking to provide a debut issue full of fighting and double page splash shots. Instead, The Knaufs are supremely dedicated to allowing the story to move at a controlled pace in order to naturally grow and cultivate a deep, complex and intriguing story.

There is no doubt that the pacing to Eternals #1 is very deliberate and measured. Eternals #1 was a well plotted issue as the Knaufs stick dutifully to Gaiman’s previous story. The Knaufs clearly set out for the reader the two prong mission statement of this title. The first is Ikaris’ task to awaken as many “sleeping” Eternals before the evil Druig can get to them.

The second task is the Eternals having to be able to work together in order to fend off The Horde. It is always important for a debut issue of a new title to clue the reader into exactly what the purpose of the title will be for the foreseeable future. The Knaufs succeed in doing that as they proceeded to progress the story in Eternals #1 with a point and purpose.

I like the mission of the Eternals somehow having to come together despite their differences between the Zuras led Eternals and the Druig led Eternals. The Horde is a cool cosmic threat that should provide for an exciting story arc whenever they make their eventual descent onto Earth.

The Knaufs crank out plenty of fantastic dialogue. And that is absolutely no surprise based on what they gave us on Iron Man: Director of SHIELD. Each character has a well defined voice that reflects their unique personality. The character work was wonderfully done. All the characters are three dimensional and the Knaufs give the reader a good sense for the personalities of the main Eternals in this issue. The Knaufs are not going to skimp and foist shallow characters onto the reader.

Druig’s monologue while watching the military parade was my favorite part of this issue. This was such a well crafted monologue that was incredibly rich and detailed. The Druig’s visceral revulsion at the humans around him is palpable. The Knaufs effectively get across to the reader that the Eternals are a higher form of being. That an Eternal might look at humans like humans view baboons.

This was a cool way to get across to the reader the higher evolutionary state of the Eternals without getting into a standard scientific explanation. And this is a crucial aspect of the Eternals that separates them from being lumped together with your typical metahuman in the 616 universe.

I dig the Dreaming Celestial and Makkari’s connection with it. This should provide the Knaufs with a nice literary tool to deliver some bizarre scenes designed to give the reader teasers of events to come. Also, having a character who can actually talk to a Celestial is rather rare. For the most part Celestials are silent looming figures. It is cool to see a Celestial regularly communicating with an Earthling.

I loved the hook ending to this issue. Our heroes, Ikaris and Thena lose to Druig in a bid for another Eternal. And then we get the surprise revelation that Thena’s son, Joey, is a host for one of the Horde. The Knaufs have set the stage for what should be a faster paced and interesting second issue.

Daniel Acuna’s artwork was solid and I enjoyed his work on Eternals #1 better than I expected. Some of his panels were fantastic looking. Acuna’s rendition of Druig was particularly impressive.

The Bad: I have a feeling that I will probably be in the minority of comic book readers who enjoyed this slower paced debut issue. I think that many comic book readers will find Eternals #1 to be a bit too slow and plodding of a read. I also expect for many comic book readers to dislike the fact that Eternals #1 did not deliver any “wow” factor. Eternals #1 was probably too understated of a read for some readers to instantly get hooked into this new title.

I do wish that the Knaufs didn’t follow so dutifully Gamain’s Eternals. I found Gaiman’s mini-series to be a bit dull and plodding. I can appreciate and respect a new author for not stomping all over or totally ignoring the previous writer’s run on a title. However, I would rather the Knaufs do their own thing rather than carry on another writer’s story. Hopefully, as the Knaufs resolve some of Gaiman’s dangling plotlines that the Knaufs will proceed to follow their own vision for the Eternals.

Even though I found Acuna’s artwork to be above average, I understand that many fans will not be thrilled with the art in this issue. Acuna’s artwork is incredibly stylized and he is an artist that people either love or hate. Acuna tends to lose control of his art at times and his art becomes a large wash of thick paints that become difficult to look at.

Overall: I enjoyed Eternals #1. I think that the Knaufs are laying a foundation for what should be a quality read. The Knaufs are excellent writers who craft comic books that are simply better written than most on the market. There may be titles that are more entertaining, but there are few that can rival the use of imagery and language that the Knaufs regularly serve up. I certainly think that the Knaufs have the necessary chops to handle Kirby’s cosmic characters in the Eternals and the Celestials. Hopefully, the pacing will pick up and the Knaufs will deliver an issue that grabs the reader a bit more actively than this debut issue.

However, if you like a faster paced read with some solid action scenes then you will more than likely not be all that thrilled with Eternals #1. And if you are a reader who prefers traditional super hero themed comic books, then Eternals #1 might not be the title for you. However, if you love the Eternals then you will probably enjoy Eternals #1. Also, if you dig slower paced and cerebral stories that give the reader plenty to chew on then you will also probably enjoy Eternals #1.

Eternals #1 is only the debut issue and it is way too early to pass judgment on the Eternals. I have the upmost faith in the Knaufs to get this story moving a bit faster and to deliver a wonderfully crafted story that is full of intrigue.

1 Comments

  1. I actually voted this for sequential methadone award, i just didnt find it interesting at all. technically a well written comic but i just dont really have any interest in the characters. although on the whole, a dissappointing week, the only comic that came out this week that i was actually looking forward to was captain britain and mi-13.
    -hobosk8er

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