March 1st, 2007

[baseball] sweet lou

The Eternals, Neil Gaiman

I didn't need even one more reason to love Neil Gaiman but I'm glad he gave me a few more with his Marvel series Eternals--which no one has heard of. And that's a crime. Because it's Neil Gaiman writing and John Romita Jr. drawing and that is something to make my toes curl.

The Eternals was a peripheral (to the superhero Marvel-verse) series created by Jack Kirby in 70s, with the origin story of two groups created on earth by super cosmic giant godlike beings, the Celestials. The creations classified as Eternals and Deviants. I bet you'll never guess which ones are prettier. Their past in comicdom has covered conflicts with the Deviants and Celestials and space travel and Avengers and impersonating Greek gods so the gods themselves could have a day off.

Gaiman starts his Eternals series by following the lives of a few, key Eternals in the present but there's a catch--none of them remember being Eternals. They are all living the life of mortal humans, with all the jobs, troubles, family & friends and none of the superpowers and immortality.

Luckily for the plot, however, one of them is starting to remember his past and his other Eternals. Luckily for story enjoyment, Ikaris is a big dumb puppy. He works the domino effect and soon the Eternals come into contact with each other and rediscover their powers. And, of course, we have conflict with the Deviants (who are kind of pretty there because John Romita's art is pretty everywhere) and the discovery of what happened to them to make them forget who they are.

I caught up with the series about a month ago and this week the final issue came out so I can say with surety that the entire run is fantastic. I knew nothing about the Eternals going in but the characterization pulled me in immediately. In seven issues, there manages to be a coherent plot as well as time taken to tell interesting things about the Eternals' relationships with each other, with their differing ways of dealing with what they are, and how they view the presence of Deviants and the human superheroes in the world--and like any good story, the themes connect to the reader as well. And the ending is just a shiny ball of possibility for the future of these characters and also lots of happy-making homoerotic subtext.

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