Eternals is an 2006 miniseries from Marvel Comics, created by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. as a soft reboot of Jack Kirby's The Eternals.
Half a million years ago, the Celestials created the immortal, unchanging superhumans known as the Eternals and left them to watch over the world. In recent years, they’ve interacted with Marvel heroes such as Iron Man, The Avengers and others.
But now they seem to be gone. Or, rather, they seem to be scattered across the globe, living normal human lives with no memory of who and what they really are.
Except for Ikaris. Ikaris remembers a little, despite whatever’s happened. And he’s going to try to find the others and awaken them if he can. And at that point, things are going to escalate.
Set against the background of Marvel’s Civil War event, the series tries to untangle Marvel’s previous continuity and define what the Eternals actually are, revising some previous events and reviving a few dead characters.
The first issue was released June 21, 2006. The series ended with issue #7, which was released February 28, 2007.
Marvel's Infinity Comics imprint later released a Webcomic adaptation, restructuring the art into a 'verticalized' scrolling format and splitting the original seven issues into eleven. The first chapters of the adaptation were released January 10, 2022, the last chapters were released January 31, 2022.
Eternals (2006) provides examples of:
- Artistic License – Biology: Discussed. Mark Curry calls Ikaris on this before the latter has his full memories back, poking holes in his story about the Eternals and the Celestials, pointing out how the Eternals have basically won the evolutionary lottery and should if they existed, be Earth's dominant species. The reason they aren't is that's not what they were designed for.
- Artistic License – Law: In-universe example. A Show Within a Show features aspiring superheroes competing to become registered under the Superhuman Registration Act, which had recently become law in the Marvel universe. The show bears absolutely no resemblance to the way that Registration actually worked. Though, considering the amounts of Take That! towards Civil War, it wouldn't be surprising if Gaiman admitted to not bothering to see how the Registration functioned.
- Back from the Dead: Druig, Zuras and Ajak all return after previous deaths.
- Badass Pacifist: Makkari, after he was appointed as the prophet of the Dreaming Celestial.
- Bad Powers, Bad People: Druig fits this like a glove.
- Bantering Baddie Buddies: Morjak and Gelt, the two Deviants sent to kidnap and murder Ikaris.
- Been There, Shaped History: Sprite was the inspiration for Peter Pan by showing off in front of J. M. Barrie.
- Blessed with Suck: Sprite got eternal life... trapped in the body of an eleven-year-old boy. It got old really quickly. Approximately the first ten years in fact.
- Blood Knight: Thena comes across this way in flashback, grinning as she slaughters a whole army of Deviants.
- 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. It's one of the possible outcomes of being a pre-teen for at least half a million years.
- Early-Bird Cameo: When Ikaris is revived in Olympia (Antarctica), he has a brief, confused conversation with the AI running the facility. In Eternals (2021) the AI - The Machine - plays a much larger role, acting as the narrator for the whole series.
- Enclosed Space: Sprite mentions that one of the restrictions built into Eternals is that they aren't able to leave Earth's solar system.
- Fantastic Racism: Claimed by the Deviants to have been directed against them by the Eternals, and considering the Eternals' somewhat high-handed attitude, they may not be entirely wrong. Druig, for example, comments that he enjoys killing Deviants. The Eternals also tend to be a little aloof towards humans, though Thena does love her son and Zuras's warning seems to be more one against getting too attached since, from their point of view, he'll die very shortly afterwards. More often than not, the Eternals' concern for other creatures comes off as displaying Condescending Compassion and bemused entertainment than genuine concern. Sprite is derisive about humans, comparing them to mayflies and calling them transients, but quite likes the idea of being one since it means he'll actually get to grow up, experience sexual maturity, and run the risk of actual death.
- 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.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: To converse with Makkari, the Dreaming Celestial takes the form of Sersi... except that she has the Celestial's face, which creeps Makkari out.
- Geas: This is the first Eternals series to introduce the idea that they’re limited by some Celestial programming. Any Eternal attempting to harm a Celestial will shut down temporarily.
- A God I Am Not: Zuras tells Tony that the Eternals were humanity's gods, but when Tony retorts that he's met gods and the Eternals don't fit the bill, Zuras laughs and basically says, 'yeah, you're right', suggesting that what he originally meant was that humanity worshiped the Eternals as gods, though the Eternals don't consider themselves to be such (though it is suggested that they weren't shy of using it to achieve their own aims).
- How Do I Shot Web?: The amnesiac Makkari and Sersi have some moments of this as their powers resurface. Averted with Thena, whose awakening is pure From Nobody to Nightmare.
- Identity Amnesia: When the series opens, all the Eternals on Earth except for Ikaris have been placed under a powerful illusion that causes them to forget that they are Eternals, and even he's a bit fuzzy on the subject. Ajak, however, retains all of his memories. Puzzling enough, Sersi seems to retain her amnesia for quite some time afterwards.
- Immortal Procreation Clause: This series introduces the idea that there have always been 100 Eternals, and that they don’t have Eternal children. Before this, Eternal families had been treated as biological families.
- Informed Flaw: Thena comments that, even at full power, her flight is very limited. But that doesn’t stop her effortlessly clotheslining Iron Man in mid-air a little later.
- Lawful Stupid: Throughout the miniseries, Tony Stark tries to force the Eternals to register under the SHRA, though he eventually drops this idea and comes to an accord with Zuras. Hank Pym, however, plays this to the hilt. 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.
- Zuras himself arguably has elements of this, refusing to go back on his word to Druig even though he knows perfectly well that Druig is setting himself up as a dictator in Vorozheikia. On the other hand, how much does he care about humans in Vorozheika?
- Mugging the Monster: When Druig returns to Vorozheika after the attack on the embassy, he’s arrested for treason by armed soldiers as soon as he gets off the plane. They’re happy to take him - at Druig’s own suggestion - into an airport room where the public can’t see. It goes badly for them.
- Never Grew Up: The reveal in this series about the Eternals’ true origins also marks the point when Sprite’s portrayal shifted. Previously, he was a child because he was one of the youngest of a very Long-Lived race; now he’s a Blessed with Suck permanent child, a truly ancient immortal who was created as a child and never allowed to age.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: After Druig rediscovers his ability to cause fear in mortals (by reading and inspiring their worst nightmares), he wastes no time in abusing it to the point he uses it to conquer a country.
- Painting the Medium: As the Dreaming Celestial awakes and stands, the last panel on the previous page is tilted - rotated right - to set the scene. Then there’s a double-page splash, rotated a full 90°, to show the sheer scale of the Celestial. Readers are intended to turn the comic itself to view it the right way up (this doesn’t apply to the digital version, which makes the tilted panel beforehand a bit of an oddity).
- Really Gets Around: Sersi. According to Sprite, she’d slept with every straight male Eternal, all sixty of them (except Sprite).
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Zuras and, surprisingly, Civil War-era Tony Stark after he realizes that it's pointless to try and convince the Eternals to register.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Druig’s now swapped from his original red and blue colour scheme to red and black. He’s still evil.
- Resurrective Immortality: Before this series, it was established that Eternals were ageless and very hard to kill - but if they died then they seemed to stay dead (e.g. Zuras). And then Morjak and Gelt kill Ikaris, and he resurrects in Antarctica. And we see the other Eternals “on ice”.
- Ruritania: Vorozheika, a supposed former Soviet Republic. It's also where Druig has been living and working ever since having his mind wiped. He then takes it over.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: When the Vorozheikan embassy comes under attack, Grace Darling, one of the stars of America's Next Super Hero, chooses to jump into the fray to try and help protect the civilians, even though the producers have forbidden them from using their powers outside the show. She's kicked off the show as a result, but then brought back because she "did the right thing."
- Speech Bubbles: As well as conventions from other Marvel comics (e.g. for Iron Man’s speech in the suit), there are a few specific examples:
- A range of different bubble colours and styles are used to indicate Deviant speech (although Morjak and Gelt get standard speech bubbles when masquerading as human). The Eternal Uni-Mind also gets its own style and colour for speech bubbles.
- The Dreaming Celestial has its own font style.
- Anyone speaking Russian is shown in a different pseudo-Cyrillic font style.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Played with. After decades of being purely portrayed this way in previous series, the Dreaming Celestial is now a more ambiguous figure with Blue-and-Orange Morality.
- Super Speed: Makkari's particular talent, running at speeds fast enough to induce Doppler shift, which would require relativistic speeds, i.e. close to the speed of light. As it turns out, that's exactly what the Dreaming Celestial created him for.
- 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 (though he does pretty quickly realize that trying to make the Eternals register is pointless) and Zuras, when asked to take sides, asking Tony if he saw two children fighting over who could play in some waste ground, would he pick sides?
- Really, the whole series is a Take That against mundane humanity in general, portraying them as slow-witted apes scrabbling in the dirt in front of beings they are virtually incapable of understanding.
- Time Abyss: The revelations about the Eternals’ true history in this series mark the point where this starts to apply. Ikaris, previously established as a couple of thousand years old, is actually at least half a million years old, as are all of the other Eternals.
- Token Evil Team Mate: Druig. He does some horrific things to humans, but doesn’t betray any Eternals and keeps to his bargain with Zuras.
- Trauma Button: One of Druig's powers is the ability to find people's deepest, darkest fears and exploit them to control their minds.
- Un-person: After stopping a fight at one of Sersi's parties, Iron Man talks to Sersi, saying that she may want to stay out of the conflict but as a former Avenger, she needs to figure out whether or not to register. A baffled Sersi says she has no powers and has never been an Avenger. Iron Man figures she's playing her usual games and leaves. But when he goes to Avengers Mansion to get information, Iron Man is struck to discover that all data regarding Sersi, from her files to her image in Avengers group photos, has been completely erased.
- We Are as Mayflies: Sprite specifically compares humans to mayflies. Apparently, all the Eternals called humans "transients."
- 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. The other Eternals suffered from occasional ennui but nothing like what Sprite dealt with.
- Would Hurt a Child: Discussed and played with. Zuras kills the now-mortal Sprite at the end of the series, as he feels Sprite’s crimes can’t be forgiven. When Sprite claims he’s just a kid, Zuras responds that he hasn’t really been a child for a very long time.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Dreaming Celestial, described as a "golden space robot", becomes a San Francisco tourist attraction. A kid thinks his toy is better because it turns into a truck.