Eternals (2021-) #1 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When we last saw the Eternals, in the pages of Jason Aaron’s Avengers, they’d all committed suicide after discovering that the Celestials did not create them to protect humanity, as they had thought, but to cultivate them. But, this is comics, and, unsurprisingly in a book about a race called the Eternals, death is not the end for them. Which ties this book not only to the Avengers, but…thematically, at least…to Hickman’s X-Men, which also deals with the nature of eternal life through resurrection.
We open on Ikaris, the last of the Eternals to be resurrected by “The Machine,” an artificial intelligence that sort of governs Eternal society…although “governs” is probably the wrong word…I don’t mean it in the political sense. It’s certainly in charge of the resurrection process, though not who is resurrected and when. It also oversees those who are excluded from Eternal society and put in some form of stasis, awaiting resurrection (although not all those who are excluded are held in stasis, apparently). It does not decide who is excluded and how long for, though, as upon reawakening Ikaris is charged by Zuras, the leader of the Eternals, with overseeing the reintroduction of Sprite, the youngest of the Eternals, back into Eternal society. Sprite had previously gone mad and tried to destroy the Machine in an attempt to transcend their role as the Eternals eternal child. They…they literally raged against the machine…
I use the pronoun “they” for Sprite because while Sprite has always been male previously, their gender here is unclear. I had assumed they were female, and then watched a video review of this comic in which they’re referred to as “he.” However, in the upcoming movie they’re being played by a girl, and Ikaris mentions that during the resurrection process they can choose to change their form and appearance, so I’m wondering if Sprite has chosen to be female. This would bring the character into line with their movie portrayal. Speaking of bringing things into line with the movie, the timing of this release intrigues me, as the movie was supposed to be released next month (after being pushed back from November) but will now be released in November of this year…unless it gets pushed back again… All of which doesn’t really have much bearing on anything but I thought was interesting nonetheless.
You know what else is interesting? This comic! How was that for a segue back to actually reviewing the book? But, yeah, this is written by Kieron Gillen, so of course it’s good. It’s illustrated by Esad Ribic, whose art is always gorgeous, although I’m not too keen on the way he draws faces, particularly Sprite’s, which definitely contributes to the confusion regarding their gender, although that may well be deliberate. We shall see.
But, yeah, a great start and I’m looking forward to reading more!