Eternals #1 Review

Written By: Kieron Gillen
Art By: Esad Ribić
Colors By: Matthew Wilson
Lettering By: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: January 6, 2021

Review by: Gabriel Hernandez

Eternals #1 reboots, quite literally, the Eternals on Earth to deal with Deviants that have run amuck. During a routine Deviant “correction,” the Eternals leader is killed, and it’s up to Ikaris to find the killer or else Sprite will take the fall for murder.This first issue cleverly builds whole worlds and dimensions by framing the story within a simple murder mystery to bring new readers up to speed. Gillen drops breadcrumbs the size of 10-ton boulders to clue you in to the real killer’s identity, but the big finish still manages to end in a satisfying cliffhanger.

Watch our Eternals #1 Video Review

Was It Good?

Yes. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Full disclosure. I have no deep experience with the Eternals. I know of them, what they’re about, who created them and all the rest, but I can honestly say I’ve never read an Eternals comic. Therefore, this entire review is coming into the mythos completely cold. The issue will be judged on its own merits and in isolation from anything that’s come before. Let’s do this.
Short Story Long
We begin with Ikaris emerging from some kind of chamber. Eternals aren’t immortal in the traditional sense. They can be killed but the AI that manages the Earth (the “Machine”) stores the Eternals memory and personality like a computer backup. When an Eternal dies, they are reconstituted with their personality and almost all memories intact.

We learn from the Machine’s narration that Ikaris is the last of the Eternals to be resurrected in the current cycle, and his first order is to release Sprite from prison to assist with hunting down a wayward Deviant. Sprite is in Eternals prison for breaking rules of conduct, and as her name implies, she’s not at all rehabilitated.

If there’s one down for this issue, it’s here. The art design for Sprite. Through the dialog and narration, we learn Sprite is a female child; presenting somewhere around 11 or 12 years old. However, Ribić designed Sprite to look like a short skinny middle aged man, complete with receding hairline, wiry limbs and decidedly masculine jawline. Almost like a younger, shorter Steve Buscemi. It’s not the worst design but I certainly don’t get a female child from this design choice.

Sprite, as we’re told but not shown, is responsible for killing most of the Eternals in the last cycle, and that’s why she’s in prison. However, she’s been rebooted with the last known good memory/personality backup. Ikaris is ordered to partner with her to track down a Deviant that’s killing people. In this incarnation, Deviants are largely docile, but one will turn bad on occasion and the Eternals prime directive is to protect humanity.

Ikaris and Sprite track the Deciant to NYC where, after a brief run-in with Iron Man who seems to know who and what they are for some reason, they find the Deviant in the sewers before it kills a tourist.

Up to this point, most of this issue is revealing the backstory through Machine’s narration, and we get to know Ikaris and Sprite through their banter. Sprite, as the name implies, has the powers of illusion and is extremely acrobatic. Ikaris is very no-nonsense and has the powerset of a typical Superman. They’re not complicated characters to figure out, and although the whole concept of the Eternals history may be brand new to me, I had no trouble following along.

After defeating the Deviant and saving the tourist with good old fashioned rock ‘em sock ‘em superhero punching, the duo returns to the Eternals stronghold in an echo-dimension folded behind Mt. Olympus. Instead of reporting to Zuras, the Eternals leader, the mission is complete, they discover Zuras was killed by someone with immense strength and who can travel through the Eternals’ teleportation network.

Druig, the Eternals’ advisor who immediately stinks of deception like 10-day-old garbage, immediately casts suspicion on Sprite and Ikaris as the murder suspects, implying Sprite orchestrated the murder as revenge for her imprisonment.

Ikaris and Sprite leave to find the real killer and clear Sprite’s name. They follow the killer’s path through the teleportation network to Titanos, the original, but now deserted, home of the Eternals.

Wait a minute! Titanos. Titano. Titan. I wonder where this is going.

They search the ruins for the killer, encountering pockets of gravity and time distortions left over from the catastrophe that destroyed Titanos in the first place. Ikaris doubts the killer is still there because in his own words: “They would be MAD to stay here.”

Hold the phone! They would be “MAD” to stay on Titanos. That sounds familiar.

Oh, of course. It’s Thanos. And we’re kicking off this series with Thanos the Mad Titan going head-to-head with the Eternals.

Final Thoughts

Eternals #1 has a simple story to kick off the series that manages to fill in a ton of blanks for new readers in an engaging and natural way. I like the art, the style, the tone, and the weirdly cosmic direction that’s a refreshing break from the standard Marvel books out these days.If you can unsee Steve Buscemi as an immortal 12-year-old girl and you like weird, trippy sci fi, you’ll like this issue a lot.


3 thoughts on “Eternals #1 Review

  1. Thanks for the review. Glad I’m not the only one who thought Sprite looked like a smaller Steve Buscemi. It’s been a while since I’ve read the Eternals, so I’m willing to see how this plays out. I will say, I’m finally glad that someone is writing a story with Thanos and the Eternals, and maybe the Deviants too. The foreshadowing for Thanos was laid out pretty thick near the end. Hopefully, there’s an actual story here and not another tease of Thanos’ return back from the dead.
    My only criticism is Iron Man’s unemotional reaction. The last time he saw the Eternals, they were ALL dead in Jason Aaron’s Avengers series. It felt like Keiron Gillen just brushed it under the rug and moved on. At least this establishes it as a canon story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do want to add that there is a bit of retconning here concerning the depiction of Deviants. They’re not like Mogwai where one in a hundred go bad, rather they formed civilizations that were nearly exterminated by past Celestial hosts. They live in secret cultures in the lost corners of the Earth. So this issue definitely downgraded them from a secret civilization of genetic monsters with cosmic origins…to occasional vermin or serial killers. Weird.

      Liked by 1 person

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