Welcome to the first Marvel Rundown of the new year! This may be apocryphal since I’m not terribly in touch with the news of the world, but 2020 wasn’t exactly a good time for any of us, yeah? At this rate, 2021 won’t be any different but at least we have the sweet saving grace of periodical comics to get us through this difficult time. With a new year comes a new era as Kieron Gillen and Esad Ribic‘s much-anticipated Eternals #1 finally hits shelves after an unexplained two-month delay.
We have a review of that book as well as other books out this week, all ahead on this week’s edition of the Marvel Rundown!
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Esad Ribic
Colours by Matthew Wilson
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Cover by Esad Ribic
As I mentioned up top, this feels like a perfect time for a relaunch of such an esoteric property like the Eternals. Maybe that’s why its release date was pushed back two months? In any case, this issue also heralds the return of Gillen to Marvel, aside from the Warhammer miniseries that recently debuted, and that alone is an exciting development.
As someone who is aware of the Eternals but has quite possibly not read anything involving the characters other than that one panel of Jason Aaron‘s Avengers where they lay dead, I quite enjoyed this. It took me a few more reads than I’d like to admit in order to fully absorb everything Gillen and Ribic are building, but that’s on me and not on the worldbuilding chops of the creators. In all honesty, I found this group of characters to be quite reminiscent of Jonathan Hickman X-Men relaunch. The Eternals live on Earth but in their own zones that humans can’t access, they’re a relative minority compared to the human population, and have a resurrection and consciousness and memory back-up process much like the mutants do on Krakoa. There’s even a data page thrown in for good measure, though it does more to explain the role of the Eternals than it does to expand on the plot as presented in this issue.
Ribic is such an interesting artist. I can definitely say that Ribic is the right artist for this kind of book, unleashing an epic scale but also managing to bring a little humanity to his characters (despite how strange their faces may be). He’s a little inconsistent, though. Ikaris’ face seems like it doesn’t have a particularly uniform look. It just seems completely different from when Ribic closes up on his face compared to other scenes he’s in where he’s portrayed from a medium angle. There’s also a specific face that Ribic pastes throughout the issue (it’s used a total of three times), and I couldn’t help but feel a little weirded out that Ikaris’ face, which isn’t exactly a flattering look for him, appears in other scenes where the expression doesn’t exactly match the context of the scene. Lastly, Ikaris’ figure is mostly consistent save for one scene midway through the comic where he suddenly appears as a much more lanky version of himself. These are small gripes but gripes nonetheless, and I hope we don’t get more of these as the series goes on. Who knows how long it’ll be before a guest artist jumps on board?
I really liked his portrayal of the character Sprite, who has this youthful energy that really keeps up with Gillen’s peppy and child-like dialogue for the character. All in all, every Eternal (and the dude who shows up at the end) all look pretty spectacular. It’s doubly exciting because there are so many Eternals who I have a passing familiarity with who haven’t even shows up yet, and I can’t wait to what Ribic has in store for us in terms of new designs.
I’ve already mentioned the comparisons with the current X-Men status quo, but Gillen differentiates them enough from the mutant gang that the comparison didn’t really bother me. Gillen makes use of The Machine, a sort of AI that all Eternals have access to, as the narrative voice of the issue. It’s really fun and inventive, going so far as to reference human pop culture in an effort to clearly explain some pieces of Eternals lore that may normally take a few more pages to properly explain. I don’t know what the Eternals really do in their stories, and I like how Gillen is dealing with that in relation to Aaron’s Avengers run. They had a purpose, it turns out it was a lie, and now they don’t know what to do; it’s all up to Gillen to redefine the characters, and that’s such an exciting thought. Aside from the whole aspect of getting in on the “ground level” of their new status quo, it may even prove to further define itself from previous runs.
Eternals #1 is certainly not a perfect issue, mostly in terms of its artwork, but Gillen and Ribic are essential reading and their take on this more obscure and weird part of the Marvel Universe showcases just how huge the MU really is. I’m giving this a STRONG BROWSE.
- Hellions #8
- Hellions continues to be the most surprising, and surprisingly vital, series in the X-Line, even entering its second year. Following the post-X of Swords Cameron Hodge fueled cliffhanger, Hellions #8 twists the plot in ways that I never saw coming and kept me utterly entertained the entire ride. From the razor sharp humor to the return of some shocking themes from House/Powers of X, Wells and Segovia are at the top of their game and ensure the rest of the X-Books have a high standard to live up to. —ZT
- King in Black: Return of the Valkyries #1
- The cancellation of Valkyrie: Jane Foster was one of Marvel’s more painful losses coming out of last year’s Diamond shutdown, as the series had quickly established itself as one of the most fun and interesting books in the publisher’s stable. Thankfully its return as part of the King in Black event, however temporary, hasn’t lost a step, as Jason Aaron, Torunn Grønbekk, Nina Vakueva, Tamra Bonvillain, and Joe Sabino present an issue that feels like a natural continuation of the series, with elements of the event storyline perfectly integrated. The introduction of a new, MCU-esque Valkyrie is handled well and creates some genuine mystery for the miniseries going forward. All that, and it’s just nice to see Mr. Horse again. —JG
- Star Wars: The High Republic #1
- After months of hype, the High Republic is finally here! Does this Star Wars multimedia spectacular hit all the right notes or should it be ignored like an exiled Gungan? Thankfully, the opening chapter of The High Republic is a pitch perfect introduction to a heretofore never-before-seen era of the Star Wars universe, a time when the Jedi and the Republic itself are at their full power. While the characters are new (excluding a centuries younger Yoda, of course), the fight for justice and truth in the galaxy is a well-worn path. High Republic #1 is an exciting new branch of that path. It will be interesting to see where it goes. Writer Cavan Scott brings readers the beginnings of a truly worthy entry into the mythos while artist Ario Anindito creates interesting and lush pages that feel fresh, yet, familiar for any Star Wars fan. —AJF
Next week, Immortal Hulk returns after a slight reschedule, and the Reign of X continues with Marauders and S.W.O.R.D.!