was a Marvel comic book series originally created by Jack Kirby
. Premiering in 1976, it was the story of a race of nigh-immortal humanoids created by the giant Celestials to defend humanity against the monstrous Deviants. The original series ran for 19 issues (and one annual) before being cancelled with several of its plotlines unresolved.
The idea was revisited in a 12-issue miniseries by Paul Gillis in 1985, but it failed to inspire an ongoing series, and then-editor-in-chief Jim Shooter
was so dissatisfied with Gillis' scripts that he brought in Walt Simonson
to write the last four issues.
In 2003, Chuck Austen (yes, that
Chuck Austen) and Kev Walker attempted a re-imagining of the concept for Marvel's MAX line called The Eternal
. In this version, the Eternals are slaves deployed by the Celestials to forcibly evolve lesser creatures so that they can be exploited for labor... until their leader falls in love and decides to rebel against the Celestials' orders. The less said about that miniseries, the better.
The original idea was then picked up by Neil Gaiman
and John Romita, Jr. for a seven-issue miniseries in 2006. In this miniseries, the Eternals have all been tricked into believing that they're just regular humans, but need to start remembering who they were after the Deviants plot to revive a Celestial who has been buried on Earth, and who plots to destroy the planet if awoken. This led to a short-lived ongoing by Charles and Daniel Knauf and Daniel Acuna.
This series contains examples of:
The original series
- Ancient Astronauts: The Celestials are an entire race of ancient astronauts.
- Humongous Mecha: Most humans assume the Celestials to be giant robots. It's somewhat more complicated than that, however, as their suits of armor are only a single aspect of their being.
- Starfish Aliens: The Celestials are pretty damned far beyond the comprehension of most creatures.
The 1985 mini-series
- Downer Ending: In order to prevent humanity from being punished for his actions, Ikaedan uses the Apple to make himself stupid so that the Celestials will decide that he's no longer a threat to them.
- In Name Only: While ostensibly based on Jack Kirby's work, The Eternal had very little in common with the previous series, besides having races called Celestials, Eternals, and Deviants.
- Neural Implanting: The Eternals in this version have a device called the Apple which allows them to give their slaves rudimentary intelligence.
The Neil Gaiman miniseries
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: In order to converse with Makkari, the Dreaming Celestial takes the form of Sersi... except that she has the Celestial's face, which creeps Makkari out.
- Blessed with Suck: Sprite got eternal life... trapped in the body of an eleven-year-old boy. It got old really quickly.
- Blue and Orange Morality: When Makkari asks the Dreaming Celestial what it did to get buried on Earth, it responds that trying to explain Celestial mores to a mere Eternal would be like trying to explain the Holy Trinity to a blade of grass.
- Creepy Child: Sprite is an ancient sociopath who still has the appearance of a pre-teen boy.
- Fish Out of Temporal Water: Grace Darling apparently came from the 1820s, but somehow got "time-frozen" at age 17 and ended up in the 21st century.
- Identity Amnesia: When the series opens, all the Eternals on Earth, with the exception of Ikaris, have been placed under a powerful illusion that causes them to forget that they are Eternals.
- Lawful Stupid: Throughout the miniseries, Tony Stark tries to force the Eternals to register under the SHRA. Also, Grace Darling nearly loses her chance at a superhero license because she decides to intervene when the Vorozheikan embassy is under attack, despite signing a contract saying that she would not engage in superheroics.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: After Druig rediscovers his ability to cause fear in mortals, he wastes no time in abusing it.
- Really 700 Years Old: The Eternals predate humanity by several centuries.
- Ruritania: Vorozheika, a supposed former Soviet Republic. It's also where Druig has been living and working ever since having his mind wiped.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: When the Vorozheikan embassy comes under attack, Grace Darling chooses to jump into the fray to try and help protect the civilians, even though she's not yet registered under the Super Registration Act.
- Take That: The miniseries delivers a pretty pointed middle finger to Civil War, with Tony Stark being portrayed as a Lawful Stupid boob more interested in convincing the Eternals to register than helping them deal with the Deviants' plot to revive the Celestial.
- Those Two Guys: Morjak and Gelt, the two Deviants sent to resurrect the Dreaming Celestial.
- Trauma Button: One of Druig's powers is the ability to find people's deepest, darkest fears and exploit them.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Sprite was responsible for robbing the Eternals of their powers, as he grew tired of being stuck as an eleven-year-old for millennia.