Eternals: Thanos Rises #1 by Kieron Gillen

Eternals: Thanos Rises #1Eternals: Thanos Rises #1 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rather than ending with #6, Kieron Gillen’s Eternals series has, instead, paused for a few one-shots before its eventual return with #7. This is the first of those one shots, filling in and expanding on the back story of the Eternals for people who aren’t familiar with them (which, honestly, is most people). Here we get the story of A’lars, aka Mentor, and the ultimate origin of Thanos.

It’s a tragic, heart-breaking tale, that won’t fail to move you. A story of love born of a desire to be more than you were created to be, that ultimately twists everything and leads to hate.

The writing is, of course, every bit as superb as we’ve come to expect from Gillen, and while Weaver’s art is very different to Ribic’s, it’s still excellent (and Ribic’s art still graces the cover).

I’m very glad that Gillen’s Eternals is continuing, as it’s a fascinating book about a corner of the Marvel Universe that I’ve never really explored before.

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Eternals (2021-) #6 by Kieron Gillen

Eternals (2021-) #6Eternals (2021-) #6 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, this took me by surprise a little as I hadn’t realised this was a limited series, or was it? It certainly wasn’t advertised as such. But then this series was originally timed to release at the same time as the movie, and the pandemic rather ruined that plan. It also seems that the story will be continuing in a series of one shots, so at least this isn’t the end for Gillen’s Eternals.

And it’s a very good thing that it’s not because this series has been quite brilliant. I’m not really going to talk about what actually happens in this issue as that would rather spoil the ending of this excellent series. Suffice it to say that it is both epic and heart wrenching in equal measure.

The writing is superb, as we’ve come to expect over the years from Mr Gillen, and the art is simply stunning…as we’ve come to expect from Mr Ribic. The two combined are just comics an whole other level.

I simply can’t recommend this series enough. If you like your super heroes on the thoughtful side with a heavy dose of new mythology, Eternals is the book for you.

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Eternals #5 by Kieron Gillen

Eternals #5Eternals #5 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally we know who’s behind it all…who sabotaged the machine.

What’s not clear yet is why.

But you can be sure that everyone’s very cross about it.

Because, like any family, the Eternals can’t stand each other.

But, to be serious for a moment, this is so well written and illustrated it’s not fair. And the Machine revealing itself to be a DS9 fan is what ultimately elevated that from a four star book to a five star book.

The parallels with the current X-books are unmistakable though. The theme of resurrection, the frequent text/info pages, and the overall quality of the work. Gillen has brilliantly recognised that in order to write a book about the Eternals for an audience who are largely ignorant as to who and what they are, a huge amount of world building needs to be done very quickly. I honestly have no idea how much of it was pre-existing and how much has been added by Gillen, but the text pages do a brilliant job of making the world of the Eternals not only feel rich and interesting, but they also make it incredibly accessible.

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Eternals (2021-) #4 by Kieron Gillen

Eternals (2021-) #4Eternals (2021-) #4 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m running out of ways to say how good this book is. Cleverly written and beautifully illustrated, what more could you want from a comic? This is full of political intrigue and world building, and my only real complaint is that I have no idea where it’s going…or how the human is tied into…well…everything else.

But we’ll get there, in time, I’m sure. In the meantime we get to enjoy Gillen and Ribic playing with a long neglected but entirely fascinating corner of the Marvel Universe. Have they finally struck on a formula for making The Eternals work? It would certainly seem so.

And with a movie right around the corner, the timing really couldn’t be better, could it?

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Eternals (2021-) #3 by Kieron Gillen

Eternals (2021-) #3Eternals (2021-) #3 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Do you need to have planning permission to have a super hero floating in your garden?”

It seems odd to me that the ordinary denizens of the Marvel Universe see the Eternals as just being the same as any other super hero, but why wouldn’t they? The ancients thought they were gods and aren’t super heroes just like modern day gods? Of course it also makes no sense that they see a different between mutants and non-mutant super heroes, but I digress…

This continues to be a beautiful mix of myth, legend and super heroes, telling a distinctly atypical super hero mystery story. That mixed with Ribic’s quite frankly beautiful art makes this something really special. I’m not sure, as yet, where this is all going, but I’m certainly happy to be along for the ride.

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Eternals (2021-) #2 by Kieron Gillen

Eternals (2021-) #2Eternals (2021-) #2 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, this is a mystery, but the mystery is not who killed Zuras, that was almost certainly Thanos, but who let Thanos in? And once you realise this, the whole thing kind of clicks into place.

The dialogue feels…strange…but that’s clearly by design, signifying that the Eternals are “other,” set apart from humanity. The world, as they know it, is a machine, and the machine is broken. The most pressing concern for the Eternals is that this means that they’re cut off from resurrection, but for the rest of the world this means…well…complete ecological collapse. Which is not ideal. But who broke the machine? And why?

Ribic’s faces are still odd, but other than that the art is gorgeous, and I’m starting to get used to their strange expressions.

It’s good to have Sprite referred to as “she” in this, confirming that they have, indeed, chosen to change their gender. I wonder if this will be addressed more fully in future? Part of me rather hopes it isn’t.

I’m enjoying this strange mix of myth, legend and super heroics. It feels new and fresh and I hope that it’s given the time to fully explore its potential.

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Eternals (2021-) #1 by Kieron Gillen

Eternals (2021-) #1Eternals (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!

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