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"Protect Celestials. Protect the Machine. Correct Excess Deviation."
Ikaris citing the Principles, Eternals #1
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Eternals is a 2021 series by Marvel Comics, created by Kieron Gillen, Esad Ribic, and Matthew Wilson. It is a soft reboot of Jack Kirby's The Eternals.

Millions of years ago, a group of alien space gods called the Celestials came to Earth to do some experiments. They ended up creating one hundred godlike beings known as the Eternals, but also one hundred mutated, grotesque beings called Deviants. Then the Celestials left, charging the Eternals to protect "the Machine," i.e. Earth.

Many years later, the Eternals learned that the Celestials didn't really give a damn about the Earth or them and the Eternals all died in a madness-induced frenzy.

But they are Eternal, so they cannot really die. The Machine has now brought them all back to life (some in different forms) and they continue to live by the same principles as before. But should they?

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After all these years, the Eternals might be faced with something completely new: change.

The series is accompanied by one-off specials by different art teams (not part of the main series numbering), either published mid-arc or between arcs:

  • "Only Death is Eternal" (#1-6)
  • Thanos Rises (with art by Dustin Weaver)
  • Celestia (with art by Kei Zama)
  • "Hail Thanos" (#7-12, with additional art by Guiu Vilanova)
  • The Heretic (mid-arc interlude for "Hail Thanos", with art by Ryan Bodenheim and Edgar Salazar)

Not to be confused with the Eternals film, based on the characters, which was also released in 2021.

The first issue was published 6 Jan 2021.


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Eternals (2021) provides examples of:

  • Actually a Doombot: The Uranos who fled Earth with the remaining Uranites was, in Druig's words, a "patched-together terrible clone" not the real Uranos.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis:
    • The Eternals have six of these around the Machine (Earth): Titanos, Oceana, Celestia, the Exclusion, Polaria, and Olympia.
    • The Deviants have Lemuria.
  • Amnesia Loop: Every time Ikaris or Phastos discovers the true cost of the Eternals’ immortality, it’s erased from their minds. The same applies to at least some of the other Eternals - although Sersi seems to remember.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Celestials built the Three Patriarchs appointed to lead Eternal dynasties (Uranos, Oceanus and Kronos) to be especially powerful, with a broad range of abilities.
  • Back for the Dead:
    • Akpaxa, who played a minor role as one of Druig’s allies in the Knauf series, returns very briefly. She brings drinks for Druig’s guests… and immediately gets stomped to death by Thanos.
    • Several other previously introduced Polarian Eternals (e.g. Betilakk the Interloper and Virako) are said to be resurrected in the first issue and Killed Offscreen a couple of issues later, without ever appearing in the comic.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • The book follows the Eternals' previous appearance in The Avengers (Jason Aaron), in which all (or almost all) Eternals killed themselves after discovering the terrible truth of their purpose. The first issue confirms that all of the Eternals are now alive again, including some who seemed to have died in places, times and ways that wouldn’t previously have permitted that.
    • Thanos's parents Sui-San and A'Lars, who were originally from Earth, have been resurrected in the same way as all of Earth's other Eternals.
    • Thanos himself returns after his apparent death in Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Badass Boast: Thanos is the master of these.
    • When Kingo calls him a murderer, he replies,
      Thanos: Do not insult me. "Murder" is but a note. I am the greatest composer who has ever been.
    • Zig-zagged when Thanos attacks Lemuria, giving a "You know who I am and what I could do to you" ultimatum to a Deviant who has absolutely no idea who he is. But he’s obviously terrifying, so it still works.
  • Beary Friendly: Ajak pauses to fuss a polar bear during her pilgrimage to the Celestial Progenitor’s remains.
  • Been There, Shaped History:
    • The machine’s narration mentions that in the early 19th century, the Forgotten One helped with the translation of the Rosetta Stone.
    • Arguably averted with Kingo Sunen and the Mongol invasion of Europe. Kingo very nearly assassinated the Mongol general Subutai, but at the last minute chose not to act. Druig, who was also there, argues that a decision not to change paths is still a decision that shapes the future.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The comic ends with Thanos stopped and the world saved. But Druig has replaced Thanos as Prime Eternal, and is planning to target mutants as deviants. Ikaris gets some closure for his trauma at not saving Toby Robson. Sersi wonders how much of their actions has got them any lasting gain, comparing themselves to Sisyphus the ever-rolling Greek.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Ikaris. On one level, he’s actually happy to see Thanos… because he’s never fought Thanos before.
    • Unsurprisingly, Thanos himself falls into this category. He’s enjoying his initial fight with Ikaris so much that Sprite’s able to catch him by surprise. By the end of the series he's actively looking forward to their clashes.
      Thanos: You are a delight, Ikaris. Leave now. Chase me forever. We can have this dance time and time over... let us be eternal art.
  • Body Horror:
    • Sersi weaves poisonous, incendiary fungi through Thanos's body. It looks pretty disturbing.
    • Thanos's body swells and starts to break down when Druig activates Phastos's failsafe.
  • Brain Food: The Deviant Ikaris and Sprite fight in the first issue was eating someone's brains.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: There’s an element of selective amnesia in some Eternal resurrections and resets, but sometimes it goes beyond that:
    • The Uranites, followers of genocidal Eternal Uranos, seem to have been heavily rewritten to remove those tendencies. Many are now reclusive members of the Oceanic Watch, not fully reintegrated into Eternal society.
    • After the Titan Schism, there was general agreement that it might be better if Eternals didn’t remember which side of the war they chose to fight on.
    • Averted with A’Lars. When he finally dies and resurrects on earth, he’s hoping that he’ll be mentally reset to move past his mistakes, forget his sins and resume his place in society. He’s excluded for life and doesn’t get that chance, as is Sui-San. It’s not just that they had problematic beliefs, it’s that they sired Thanos. And anyone with access to their genes could potentially build another entity like Thanos. Even if they never want to try creating children again, they’re too dangerous as a tool for others to do so.
    • Gilgamesh and the Forgotten don’t take part in Eternal politics or telepathically connect to the Uni-Mind for fear that they’ll be brainwashed and reset in this way.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Domo, whose only appearance since 1984 was a tiny cameo in Hulk (2012) is now back as the right-hand man and technologist for Olympia’s Prime Eternal. Whoever that Eternal might be.
    • Sprite returns after being killed by Zuras during Neil Gaiman’s series, reset to a previous version with no memory of her actions.
    • Kingo Sunen, who was absent from the Gaiman and Knauf series - and had only appeared in a couple of cameos over the last couple of decades - is now one of the leads.
    • Uranos, last seen in the 1980s What If? back-up stories, returns in the 2022 special The Heretic.
    • Valkin, whose only appearance since 1998 has been a historical flashback, also returns in the 2022 special The Heretic.
  • Call a Human a "Meatbag": This is how we know the Machine (i.e. Earth) is broken. Its narration begins insulting humanity:
    I'm sorry. My mind is burning up. This makes things difficult, and I'm taking it out on you over your egotistical nonsense that...
    Sorry. I'm at it again, you putrid sacks of goo.
    Sorrysorrysorry.
  • Call-Back: Several of them.
    • Gilgamesh broke the Machine’s resurrection chambers while Brainwashed and Crazy during the Knauf series.
    • As seen in the Knauf series, Ajak reacts very badly to Celestials speaking clearly to anyone else. And to mortals getting involved with Celestials.
  • Can't Stop the Signal: Averted. Jack of Knives makes it very clear that if Ikaris tells humans the truth about Eternal immortality, those humans will die, However many there are. Even if he broadcasts it on television, they will attach memetic poisons to eat into the viewers’ minds. Ikaris takes their threat seriously.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: Not a surprise to the reader, but in The Heretic, Uranos saves a clan of Deviants from one who's been mutated into a murderous monster by the Change. One of the survivors even starts to thank him. And then he kills everyone.
  • Character Narrator: The narrator of the book is the Machine, i.e. the Earth itself. They even point out that they usually aren't this talkative.
  • Charge-into-Combat Cut: When Thanos and the Oceanic Watch attack Lemuria, the story swiftly cuts away from Ikaris, Sprite and Sersi fighting the Oceanic Watch. Instead, it focuses on two much smaller-scale confrontations - Thanos facing Tolau and Thena, and then Thanos killing Phastos.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sersi's earrings. They are actually compartments that Eternals can hide in.
  • Civil War: There are at least two notable ones in Eternal history:
    • The Uranite Heresy, 600,000 years ago. Uranos wanted to purge non-Eternal races from the earth. The Uranites lost and the survivors fled to Titan, accompanied by a clone of their captured leader Uranos.
    • The war preceding the Titan Schism, 200,000 years ago. A’Lars wanted to create a new generation of Eternals via scientific meddling; Zuras opposed this as a corruption of the Celestials’ plan for them. Settled with a peace treaty, extensive brainwashing and an experiment.
    • The Machine’s narration also mentions that the Eternals of Polaria and Olympia don’t like each other and have only “mostly” avoided outright war.
  • Clue from Ed.: References to other issues are provided in-character by the Machine’s narration.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Scenes in Olympia use a yellow and brown palette. The city’s architecture is largely white, against a golden sky.
    • Scenes in Polaria and the Exclusion, the arctic and antarctic cities, both use a blue palette.
    • Celestia uses shades of pink for the architecture and background.
    • The Loop is green, yellow and grey
    • The Deviant city of Lemuria is largely purple and blue
  • Comic-Book Time: Largely played straight, but when we meet Khoryphos and Yrdisis again, they’ve been together for forty years - which more or less matches the time since the Gillis/Simonson The Eternals series introduced them as a couple.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Ikaris is a somewhat humorless character in this run and other characters gags tend to rebound off him. The Machine itself comments that, after a million years, it still doesn’t know if Ikaris is "very dry, completely clueless or both".
    • When Sersi asks for an evening with Namor at the Avengers' Celestial headquarters, Tony Stark senses something's not right... because Sersi wants an evening with someone other than him.
  • Connected All Along: Not a surprise in-universe, but some family relationship reveals for readers. Valkin and Virako are Uranos's sons, and Druig and Ikaris are his grandsons.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Sprite is resurrected after their death during Neil Gaiman's Eternals mini-series. The reasons they were excluded are touched upon, as is the fact that Zuras killed them.
    • In the first issue, Iron Man asks Ikaris if he's "gonna freak out again," nodding back to Jason Aaron's Avengers #1, when they spoke just before Ikaris died.
    • When the Machine talks about the Excluded (those Eternals imprisoned, potentially forever, for their crimes), it comments that one was excluded for "siring a creature that killed half the galaxy with a single finger click." The next issue clarifies that both his father A'Lars and mother Sui-San were excluded.
    • The Machine’s first Long List of Lemurian Deviants includes Kra (the warlord who appears at the end of the Gaiman series) and Ereshkigal (who’s appeared as a villain in Thor and Quasar, but never in the Eternals books) as well as more familiar recurring characters such as Kro, Ransak and Ghaur. Most of them are also in the second such list, as is villain Maelstrom, alongside the casualties of Thanos’s attack on Lemuria. Ereshkigal is listed as one of the dead or injured.
    • When Kingo is talking about Eternal scientists, he mentions Sygmar (last seen in the final issue of the original Eternals series, back in 1977) as well as Domo and Phastos.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: Occasionally used on data pages, generally for Foreshadowing of future twists.
    • The first issue uses the Classified Information variant to omit the names of the six Eternals in The Hex.
    • When the Excluded are listed in more detail towards the end of the first arc, the Classified Information option is used to redact the reasons for Excluded "E", "H" and "T".
    • The last chapter of the Only Death Is Eternal arc includes a model of Eternal consciousness, again using the Classified Information option. Two Eternals were apparently excluded after a failed attempt to rewrite their Core Identity; their names are redacted, as is the name of the apocalyptic event that led to it. One compartment of Eternal consciousness is also headlined "Classified" and completely redacted.
    • In The Heretic a document explaining "The Age of the Patriarchs" uses the Corrupted Data option and throws an "[ERROR: SECTION DELETED]" message when it reaches "the Matriarchs' influence in this period and the Eternal concept of gender in dynasties".
  • Covers Always Lie: The Phil Noto variant cover for The Heretic shows Uranos looming over a beaten Thanos, his foot on Thanos's chest. There's no physical confrontation between the two, who seem to end the story on good terms, and Uranos is never released from his cell.
  • Creating Life: After reading Frankenstein, Makkari decides to rebuild her dead god. The Machine’s narration suggests that this may not end well.
  • Creating Life Is Bad: A’Lars and Sui-San used science and cosmic powers to create a child (born in the usual way) who was also a true Eternal. Their child was Thanos, so it’s fair to say that this did not end well.
  • Crisis of Faith: Most of the Eternals had some level of this after discovering the Celestials’ true purpose for them, leading to their mass suicide and reset. Most of them are now doing better, with Makkari and Ajak the notable exceptions.
  • Cruel Mercy: Thanos decides not to kill Tolau, after realizing that the Change is going to mutate him into a mindless monster anyway.
  • Dateless Grave: As usual, Comic-Book Time means that Toby Robson's gravestone includes his name and age, but no years.
  • Democracy Is Flawed: The role of Prime Eternal is assigned by a vote of the Eternal uni-mind. But when a shrewd manipulator like Druig gets involved, many Eternals can be persuaded not to vote. And that’s how you get someone like Thanos as Prime Eternal.
  • Demoted to Dragon: Thanos in the first arc, reduced to acting as the muscle for Phastos. And not exactly happy about it.
  • Disappointed in You:
    • Uranos's initial response to Thanos. It’s not that he disapproves of Thanos's monstrous and genocidal career. It's that he feels that only killing 50% of the universe shows a lack of commitment.
    • Valkin makes his disappointment with his son Druig extremely clear, both in the present day and in flashback.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Sersi takes advantage of her charms to distract Namor while the other Eternals infiltrate Avengers' Mountain, and he falls for it quite easily. By the time the alarms sound off both are enjoying drinks and a Two-Person Pool Party.
  • The Dreaded:
    Ajak: Its guards are feared across the civilized universe. They are vengeance personified.
    • The Machine itself is clearly terrified of Uranos:
    The Machine: Yeah. I'm out. Sorry. You can provide your own narration and ironic commentary. This guy scares the %$#@ out of me.
  • Driving Question: For the second half of the "Hail Thanos" arc the big question is how two Eternal parents sired Thanos, who seems to be part Deviant. Thanos needs to know so that he can finish integrating with the Machine, restore his full power and gain the Eternals' Resurrective Immortality. His opponents want to know so that they can find a way to kill him.
  • Dropping the Bombshell: When Thanos is raging that the secrets he needs were only known to his parents, who he's already killed, he’s stunned by a very matter-of-fact response.
    Druig: Well, you could just ask them. They're three cells over.
  • Dung Fu: When Druig tried to persuade Scab, one of the Titanos hermits, to vote against Zuras, Scab reportedly pelted him with excrement.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Sersi absolutely gushes over Namor, and it seems to be mutual. On the other hand, she definitely has an ulterior motive for distracting him.
  • Egocentrically Religious: Ajak consider herself the most pious and loyal of the Eternals to the Celestials. Unfortunately, she feels entitled to an equal amount of confidence from the Celestials and gets violently jealous when others are contacted by them instead of her. As she attempts to kill whoever is the unfortunate target, she rationalizes that the Celestials are inscrutably cryptic and thus contacting them must be an indirect way to communicate with her and test her faith.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: In Thanos Rises we get a glimpse of the last battle before the Titan Schism, 200,000 years ago. One side is riding cyborg dinosaurs. The story doesn’t dwell on this.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Uranos' first line calls Thanos a disappointment for being non-commital and only killing half the universe.
  • Evil Is Angular: Used to highlight the threat of characters or lack thereof, while the Deviants are portrayed largely as humans with slight differences of feature and color though those who have undergone "the Change" can become much more threatening in look and action. A specific example can be seen in The Heretic the Deviants are portrayed as a version of the The Greys only short colorful and almost cuddly.
  • Exact Words: The Principles stop Eternals from directly acting against Celestials. They don't stop Ajak from delivering a No Holds Barred Beat Down when interrogating a Celestial's ghost.
  • Eye Scream: A’Lars is excluded forever in a cell where walls light up increasingly brightly as they track the deaths caused by Thanos. His eyes are seared out within a week.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In the first arc, Gilgamesh explains how easily a component of the machine would be sabotaged, saying he pointed it out to Phastos.
  • Expy: Sprite, being a precocious trickster child just resurrected after their previous self (who was evil) died makes them one for Kid Loki. It helps that both were written by Kieron Gillen. In turn, the relationship between Sprite and Ikaris is similar to Kid Loki and Thor.
  • Faceless Goons: Justified and downplayed with the Oceanic Watch. They're never seen unmasked and remain silent, largely Out of Focus compared to the other Eternals. It's not even clear which is which. However, there are only six of them and the full armour they wear is implied to be very effective.
  • Family of Choice: Subverted. The Eternals are not blood relatives, but some are grouped into two-generation "Atomic Families" or three generation "Dynasties”. But those family dynamics were set by the Celestials when the Eternals were first created, not chosen by the Eternals themselves.
    • That being said, Uranos finds that Thanos is the least disappointing relative he has and bequeaths to him the key to his world destroying contingencies. Thanos thanks him and acknowledges him as grandfather instead of granduncle when he leaves.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Towards the Deviants, to varying degrees. Faced with an Avengers team including an actual demonic entity, Ajak thinks to herself that it’s almost as bad as allying with a Deviant.
    • Uranos and his followers towards humans. At least partly on the basis that humans don’t live long enough to matter in any positive way.
  • Festering Fungus: Sersi is quite capable of weaving fungal horrors through an enemy's body. Poisonous, incendiary fungal horrors. It's even nasty enough to slow down Thanos.
  • First-Episode Twist: The end of the first issue reveals that Thanos is alive again and killing Eternals.
  • Forced to Watch: When A’Lars is excluded, his brother Zuras arranges cell walls with screens that estimate the ongoing deaths caused by Thanos. The cell is initially pitch black; a new pixel lights up for each death. Eventually ends when the light sears out his eyes.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The various Deviants we see trying to become immortal or extend their natural lifespan are using humans as a resource. Although most of them don’t realize it, Eternal immortality works similarly, with human and deviant lives as fuel.
    • When the Forgotten One is briefly a suspect for the first arc’s murders, he notes that “If you can keep a weapon like Thanos on a chain, it’s a good idea... but no one keeps Thanos on a chain. And he’s right - Druig discovers this the hard way, at the start of the second arc.
    • Thanos activates Uranos' doomsday weapons to destroy the Earth, prompting an Oh, Crap! reaction from Druig, who wonders if he could have used some clever trickery to block that via instructions to the Machine - but sadly acknowledges that it's far too late now, as he'd have to set that up much earlier. He did, before Thanos killed him and inflicted Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • Genius Loci: The Great Machine that the Eternals serve is the Earth itself, and it's advanced enough to be self-aware. It is narrating this series, which it notes to be odd, especially since it isn't omniscient like it's supposed to be.
  • Geographic Flexibility: After the Cosmic Retcon during Eternals (2006), Olympia was established to be in Antarctica. As of this series, it’s only the Exclusion that’s there, though - Olympia is in Europe again (although it’s now also in a Pocket Dimension).
  • Godhood Seeker: Kronos, who almost destroyed the world while trying to become a deity. He succeeded in some ways, creating Kronos the god, but Kronos the Eternal still exists in parallel. And is Excluded forever as punishment.
  • God is Dead: Makkari’s perspective on the death of the Dreaming Celestial.
  • God Is Inept: This is the response Uranos has to being informed that his theses on the Principles are disproven by the true purpose of the Eternals. All he cares about is following the Principles to their logical conclusion, if this is counter to Celestial intent then they should have accounted for that.
  • Good Feels Good: Ikaris feels this when he is thanked from Toby Robson's mother for saving people.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: During the second arc, Thanos grabs an unfortunate Deviant by the jaw. The machine’s narration apologizes and the scene cuts away, but not before the machine explains exactly what’s going to happen when Thanos squeezes.
  • Handicapped Badass: Makkari lost speech, hearing and telepathy in a disastrous attempt to contact her god, the dead Dreaming Celestial. Ajak notes that death and reset might restore her, but she’s chosen not to go down that route.
  • Holy Ground: Ajak views the Progenitor’s corpse (aka Avengers Mountain) in this way. She also sees the Avengers converting it into a building as blasphemy.
  • Hordes from the East: A flashback shows Druig and Kingo Sunen present when Subutai’s Mongol horde invaded Europe in 1241.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Druig implies that Deviants do this a lot.
  • Human Resources: A recurring theme in Deviant efforts to extend their lifespan. Feeding off human brain matter and harvesting human organs, for example. Deviants transformed by the Change also tend to become cannibalistic.
    • And also the hidden cost of the Eternals’ own resurrections. Every time The Machine revives an Eternal, either a human or deviant dies to provide the spark of life.
  • The Hecate Sisters: The "Gaian Sisters" included in the list of Eternals are Daina of Times Past, Cybele of Times Present, and Tulayn of Times Future.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: A theme for the Eternals. The second arc reveals that six is also a Holy Number for them.
    • Hexagonal shapes are used for Eternal light platforms, portals and some of their architecture. Druig and Sersi’s powers, among others, also manifest with hexagons.
    • The Machine’s data pages present each Eternal faction and location with a hexagonal icon. And the Machine’s narration itself is presented in irregular hexagonal caption boxes.
  • History Repeats: A major theme of the series, as since the Eternals are immortal and bound by the Principles they relive the same experiences over and over again.
    • Ikaris asked a child to wait for his arrival after seeing a vision of a monster attacking the child through. The vision was of the boy's grandson, and the boy Ikaris spoke to ended up wasting his whole life. Also counts as Predestination Paradox.
    • Thena's love affairs with Deviants keep occurring, even though at the end of one of them she swore off them forever.
    • The Reveal about the Eternals learning their resurrection comes through Human Resources, and appealing for aid, and then being mind-wiped until they inevitably repeat the discovery again.
    • Zuras gets killed by Thanos twice in two weeks.
  • I Am the Noun: the machine, as narrator, assigns a word or two that fits each Eternal:
    • Ikaris is the arrow.
    • Druig is the snake.
    • Sersi is “complicated”.
    • Phastos is the forge and the hammer.
    • Kingo Sunen is the smiling mask.
    • Thena is the book and the blade.
    • The Forgotten One is the righteous fist.
    • Makkari is fast.
    • Ajak is the believer.
    • Khoryphos is the lyre.
    • Jack of Knives is, unsurprisingly, the knife.
    • Thanos is death.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Eternals can have children with other species, and some (‘Nephilites’) may have an extended lifespan, but the children won’t be immortal and won’t be Eternals. They can’t naturally have children amongst themselves, though - and after an attempt to allow this via scientific meddling created Thanos, future attempts are banned.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Thanos. In the first arc, Druig telepathically distracts him while Thena stabs him in the back with enough force that the blade protrudes from his chest. This being Thanos, that's not quite enough to kill him.
  • Insult Backfire: Discussed. The Machine notes that Druig resists the temptation to tell Thanos that he would be “far from the worst person to rule the Eternals”, as he knows that Thanos would be offended... by the implication that some previous leaders were actually worse than him.
  • Internal Reveal: Midway through the "Hail Thanos" arc, Thanos finally discovers that his parents aren’t actually dead - and can't be permanently killed due to the usual Resurrective Immortality. He doesn't take it well.This was already revealed to readers much earlier in the 2021 series.
  • Intimate Artistry: The Deviant Tolau crafts a statue of himself and his lover Thena. Thena is sculpted from shining metal, an almost indestructible secondary adamantium alloy. The figure of Tolau himself is shaped in frail and ephemeral meat, wreathed in flies and stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster.
  • Intrigued by Humanity: Druig, of all people, claims to genuinely like and respect humans. He doesn’t gloss over the darker aspects of their nature. And he wants to see what they eventually become.
  • Ironic Echo: In the course of issue 7, Thanos and Druig each repeat the other's words back to them ironically.
  • I Warned You: The note Zuras leaves in his brother A’Lars’s prison cell within the exclusion ends with a simple “I told you so”.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: During the "Hail Thanos" arc the protagonists sneak into Avengers Mountain. Brandy is awoken by an internal alert to their presence, noted by the Earth to have commonality with the Eternals, as both are planetary defense systems, but this is bound to cause some friction.
  • Just One Second Out of Sync: Titanos, the fallen capital of the Eternals, is stated to be "superimposed between three seconds from now and two seconds ago."
  • Kick Them While They Are Down:
    • Not only is A'Lars imprisoned in the Exclusion, Zuras leaves a note literally saying "I told you so" and has the entire room set up as a screen, lighting one pixel for every life Thanos takes. A'Lars' eyes burn out within a week.
    • And possibly a more subtle one - the two grim-faced representatives Zuras sends to formally debrief A’Lars before his exclusion are Ikaris and Thena, who were two of his supporters. They don’t remember that they were on his side, but A’Lars probably does.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: In light of some of his actions, it’s hard to feel too sorry for Zuras when Thanos murders him twice within a fortnight.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Phastos sees the slaughter Thanos is causing in Lemuria and decides to surrender. He only gets as far as shouting "You want me? Here I-" before Thanos crushes his skull.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: Jack of Knives makes it very clear that they’ve been paid to arrange this if Ikaris starts talking about the human cost of Eternal immortality.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
    • Many of the Eternals - including Sprite and Ikaris - were reset after the Titan Schism and have no idea which side they fought for.
    • In the present day, Sprite was restored from an old backup, so has no memory of having mind-wiped the other Eternals (in the Eternals (2006) run). This also means that she doesn't really know about modern human society at all, and is amazed by everything she sees.
    • Druig very carefully deletes knowledge of the unspecified device that guarantees Thanos’s obedience from Phastos' mind
    • Thanos has Druig's recent memories wiped so that he can't use Phastos' failsafe himself
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Thanos mentions his last appearance where he died, the Machine narrates the exact title and issue where that happened, adding that it is an unusual compulsion it never understood. Similar references appear a few times in later issues.
  • Lemony Narrator: The narrator of the series is the Great Machine, i.e. the Earth itself. It deems itself malfunctioning because it's not only narrating in the first place but because it's not omniscient while doing so in a very quirky manner. It does not want to inform the Eternals of this state, even though it's their job to maintain it.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: If Uranos dies, or if he's mindwiped, his contingency plans will destroy the Earth.
  • Long List: When the Celestials left Earth, there were 100 Eternals and 100 Deviants. There are still 100 Eternals, but in the third issue, when the Machine begins calculating the Deviant population of Lemuria, it displays two whole pages filled with names...and has "Page 7 of 10,416."
    • And as a little Easter Egg, one of the hundreds of names on those pages is the only Deviant we actually meet in the issue, Thena’s lover Tolau.
    • Existing characters Kro, Kra, Ransak, Ghaur and Ereshkigal are all on the list too.
    • We get a second version of the list in the ninth issue. This time names of those killed, maimed or traumatized by Thanos’s attack on Lemuria are struck through. Including Tolau.
  • Loophole Abuse: Eternals are hardwired not to threaten the Machine, which means that they can't even unconsciously destroy the Earth. This doesn't prevent them from setting up circumstances that'll destroy the Earth upon their death. Or at least it's plausible enough for the others not to test it when Uranos claims to have done this.
  • Loyal to the Position:
    • Domo serves the Prime Eternal. There’s an element of pragmatism to this - he does consider the risks and benefits of betraying Thanos - but in practice, it works this way.
    • The Eternals of the Oceanic Watch are considered to have impaired judgement, so will follow the orders of the Prime Eternal. Whoever that might be. It helps that they’re ex-followers of Uranos, with few if any moral qualms.
  • Mayfly–December Romance:
    • Thena and Tolau, aggravated by his illness.
    • Khoryphos and Yrdisis. They’ve had forty years together and seem a very happy couple. But Yrdisis is growing old now, and Thena’s reaction to meeting them is that forty years is no time at all.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The two guardians of the Exclusion, where problematic Eternals are imprisoned after resurrecting, echo famous names from mythological afterlives: they're Kharon and Ur-Luciva.
    • A’Lars renames himself Mentor at the start of the Titan experiment.
  • The Missus and the Ex: The Deviant Tolau was aware that Thena had a romantic history with Kro. But having Kro, lord of Lemuria - who could have him killed very easily - turn up at his door makes it significantly more real.
  • The Mole: In the first arc there’s an Eternal assisting Thanos, helping him travel through the teleportation system (which he shouldn't be able to do) and get into Polaria. The immediate suspects are Sprite (who did try to kill the Eternals before) and Druig, who has fought opposite the rest of the Eternals previously. Both are discarded, however, when Thanos attacks both. Issue 5 finally reveals the traitor in question: Phastos.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ikaris and Gilgamesh are horrorstruck by the revelation of what their race's actions, as well as their own, have cost the population of Earth.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A past meeting between Thena and Sersi has them in the clothing Jack Kirby originally gave them in their debut comics.
    • 200,000 years ago, at the end of the Titan Schism and post-reset, Sprite and Ikaris comment about how weird it would have been if they fought on opposite sides. They did, they just can’t remember it. And later oppose each other in Neil Gaiman’s Eternals series.
    • As part of the same Titan Schism conversation, Sprite mentions that he suspects he was “turning a teensy bit bitter” and needed the reset. The bitterness creeps back later, leading him to become the villain of Neil Gaiman’s Eternals series in the present day.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Jack of Knives. The machine notes that the only consideration Jack shows is the warning within their name.
  • Naked on Arrival: The first issue begins with Ikaris's resurrection, after which he is completely nude for three pages. As a rule, all Eternals seem to resurrect naked.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Whatever happened to the Delphan Brothers, the “unfortunate state” which has left them unable to fully participate in Eternal politics.
  • No-Sell: Lemuria’s missile defence system is utterly ineffective against the Oceanic Watch. Although the Machine does comment that the explosions are pretty.
  • Not Me This Time: In the first arc, Druig insists that he's not the traitor who's been murdering Eternals and sabotaging the Machine (which, given his long history of betraying his people, initially rings hollow.) But when Thanos attacks him, it's proof that he's not the traitor.. Which doesn't stop him from actively allying with Thanos as soon as the opportunity arises.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • When they first clash, Thanos tears Ikaris’s head off. With his bare hands. Turns out to be one of Sprite’s illusions, to aid Ikaris in an escape.
    • Many of the Eternals killed in Thanos’s rampage through Polaria also seem to have been decapitated.
  • Oh, Crap!: There are a couple of moments that definitely qualify.
    • Sersi when Jack of Knives tells her that Thanos has been elected as Prime Eternal. An unintended consequence of leaving Olympia for Lemuria.
    • Druig's reaction when Thanos activates Uranos's armory of doomsday weapons, beginning the end of the world is simply "Oh &#%$".
  • Ominous Message from the Future: In Titanos (which exists outside time), Ikaris sees a vision of himself apologizing next to a tombstone for "Toby Robson." Since Ikaris doesn't know any Toby Robson now, it must be from the future...and Ikaris assures Sprite that Toby Robson won't die.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Uranite philosophy. They believe that they should kill everything except the Eternals and the Celestials.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Averted and played with.
    • We finally get a name for "The Interloper" (Betilakk), who's only ever been known by his nickname since the character's introduction in 1985.
    • Gillen’s interviews and newsletter suggest that a real name for Vampiro (introduced in 1979) has also been introduced.
    • The Forgotten One’s name is deleted from the records, but he’s acquired a whole host of nicknames and aliases over the years. Gilgamesh is currently the best known of them.
  • The Patriarch: The Celestials created three Eternal three-generation Dynasties, with Kronos, Oceanus and Uranos specifically named as their Patriarchs.
  • Planet Spaceship: The ultimate plan Uranos had for the Earth would have essentially transformed it into a pirate ship, flying around the universe extinguishing all life and looting resources to add to it.
  • Pocket Dimension: Most of the Eternals' cities are set in these (in some cases, this is a Retcon):
    • Celestia is "a constructed conceptual valley in the Andes, sculpted from a condensed belief matrix"
    • The Exclusion is "sealed between six artificial molecules, secreted beneath the South Pole."
    • Olympia is in "Northern Greece, folded behind Mount Olympus in an echo-dimension", whereas some previous series had placed it in Antarctica.
    • Titanos is "superimposed between three seconds from now and two seconds ago."
    • Lemuria is now "positioned in an reality-haunt adjacent to the Pacific Ocean floor", whereas it had previously been portrayed as physically on the ocean floor - e.g. a submarine discovers it in New Eternals.
  • Portal Network: One of the Eternals' abilities is that they can teleport, but it takes enormous strain to do it over long distances. So they built a teleportation network all over the world that does it for them. Due to the complex nature of the network, however, it can be unreliable. As the Machine put it in the first issue, "It is the teleportation equivalent of a mass transit system in a major Earth city. Unreliable, complicated, yet essential."
  • The Power of Hate: It runs in Thanos's family. He spends a lot of time torturing A'Lars and Sui-San, and they in turn deny him the knowledge he wants, even if the world will pay for it.
  • Predecessor Villain: Uranus is rewriten as this, in part to show that Thanos is not the worst person in his family, The Heretic shows why Uranus deserves to be called the Morgoth to Thanos's Sauron
  • Prophecy Twist: The last time Ikaris saw a mortal boy in danger from a vision of the future, he tried to at least inform the boy to call on him when the monster showed up. The boy lived and died by this vigil, starting a family along the way, it turning out afterwards that he wasn't the boy Ikaris saw, but his grandson.
  • Proverbial Wisdom: Discussed. Druig apparently attempted to persuade The Silvered Bride of Heaven to vote against Zuras. She responded with “long, technical astro-poetry”, leaving him unsure of what she actually meant. “It may have been a yes”.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Druig describes the Oceanic Watch this way. They’ve accepted that their own judgement is flawed, so they’re happy to follow orders without any moral quibbles.
  • Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: The way that Thanos teleports around using the Machine allows him to escape from being tracked as well. As the Machine explains:
    Kingo: Where did he go?
    The Machine: Uncertain. Looped inside the Machine in nonexistent quantum space. He is Schrodinger's serial killer.
  • Race Lift:
    • Makkari, who was previously depicted as white, is resurrected with dark skin.
    • Phastos is also depicted as Black, after the previous (2008) Eternals series portrayed him as white - but was Black when first introduced in 1985, so this is actually taking him back to his original portrayal.
  • Reincarnation: The series begins with the resurrection of the Eternals - and some choose to return in different bodies. Ikaris explains that this occasionally happens when there’s a significant reset. The changes also bring the characters closer to the versions seen in the Eternals film.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Earth’s Eternals are all a million years old, and Gillen has named almost all of them in data pages - including many who’ve never been seen or mentioned before.
    • Jack of Knives is the first to actually make an appearance, at the start of the Hail Thanos arc. Ikaris, of course, has known them for a very long time.
  • Ret-Canon: An interesting variation: the MCU Eternals movie hadn't come out yet when this series begannote , but the book still changes the characters so that they look more like the film's actors, even genderflipping and racelifting some. This is explained away by Ikaris saying that Eternals can change their appearance, which they typically do every 25 to 30,000 years.
    • Makkari is a slightly different case, as her latest incarnation is also deaf, unable to speak, and lacking active telepathy. This is also in line with the MCU version of the character, but is presented as a new development in her life.
    • Initially averted with Druig, whose MCU equivalent looks nothing like him and is very different in other ways.
  • Retcon: The first data page (which is also the recap page) lists all of the Eternals previously known, plus more. They are also categorized by the city they live in, or by their role in Eternal society. Some are even ‘classified’ or state that data has been lost.
  • Restraining Bolt: Acting against the Principles causes physical harm to Eternals. Phastos is clearly shaken and bleeding towards the end of his plan to disable the Machine’s resurrection abilities, as his body starts to fail.
  • Resurrective Immortality: No matter when or how an Eternal dies, it seems that the machine will revive them.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:
    • Zig-zagged. Druig arranges Thanos’s election as the new Prime Eternal. Thanos promptly kills him afterwards. But then he’s promptly resurrected - with some Laser-Guided Amnesia to limit his scheming - and reinstated as Thanos’s assistant.
    • Seemingly averted with Druig's original betrayal of Uranos. He wasn't thanked, but it seems he wasn't punished either.
  • Screw Your Ultimatum!: When torture doesn't get any information from his parents Sui-San and A'Lars, Thanos threatens to destroy a town of 10,000 humans if they don't cooperate. It doesn’t change their minds.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The prisoners within The Exclusion. They can’t be executed, as they’ll just resurrect, so if they can’t be rehabilitated they are imprisoned forever.
    • Excluded “SP” (Sprite) was briefly in this category - it’s revealed that she’s been Excluded since her death in the Eternals (2006) - but the first issue immediately releases her.
    • At least two are imprisoned after an attempt to telepathically rewrite their core identity went disastrously wrong, leading to apocalyptic events.
    • Excluded “U” (Uranos) attempted to destroy all life on earth except the Eternals themselves. He was also making long-term plans to destroy all other life once Earth was purged.
    • Excluded “K” (Kronos) committed “apocalyptic auto-deification”
    • Thanos’s parents, A’Lars (Excluded “A”) and Sui-San (Excluded “S”) were excluded for creating him (“unsafe lineage”).
  • Sealed Good in a Can:
    • Valkin gets Excluded by Thanos when he refuses to back the new order.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Kieron Gillen was going to introduce all of the Eternals from the MCU film in the first arc, but realized that this wouldn’t give Ajak and Makkari their due - “it would only be a cameo, which isn’t nearly enough” - so they were introduced in a one-shot special immediately afterwards, and only join the main series cast halfway through the second arc.
  • Self-Imposed Exile: Oceanus retired to the vigil, reportedly out of fear that he’d spiral into madness and treachery the same way as his brothers Uranos and Kronos.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Thanos. Of course, his parents A’Lars and Sui-San are both Eternals, so they didn’t stay dead. Thanos isn’t aware of that until midway through the "Hail Thanos" arc, though. And is not happy when he finds out.
  • Sex Shifter: The Eternals (2006) series introduced the concept of Eternals’ Resurrective Immortality. This one builds on it, establishing that when Eternals are resurrected, they can also choose to change their appearance and gender. Sprite, Ajak and Makkari are now female.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Machine compares the Deviants to mogwais, the creatures from Gremlins.
    • One of the Eternals in Polaria is named "Soule the Charred."
    • When Kro says he’s 20,000 years old, Sersi’s response begins with “You sweet summer child”.
    • When Kingo Sunen is tasked with single-handedly holding off the Avengers inside their base, he comments that he always did want to star in a remake of Die Hard.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Zuras and A'Lars, who became the leaders of opposing sides in the Titan Schism.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: More like Sins of Our Sons. A'Lars and Sui-San are imprisoned in the Exclusion for creating Thanos.
  • Smug Snake: Druig is repeatedly characterized as a snake, an Opportunistic Bastard only ever acting towards his own ends, betraying and forging alliances at the drop of a hat while always maintaining his own advantage. He overextends in his attempts to set up Thanos as a Puppet King, as the Mad Titan easily sees through him and kills him before he can betray Thanos. But he’s too useful to abandon, so Thanos still has him resurrected - minus some problematic memories. Subverted at the end of the second arc, as he saw Thanos's actions coming and planned around them, leaving a trap that would trigger later. He ends the second arc by defeating Thanos, defusing the ancient world-destroying weapons of Uranos, and becoming the new Prime Eternal.
  • Sole Survivor: Sui-San was the last surviving Uranite, living alone in the ruins of Titan. All of the others eventually died, were resurrected on earth, and were then very thoroughly mind wiped.
  • Somebody Named "Nobody": The Forgotten One has used other names (e.g. the Avengers knew him as Gilgamesh), but he’s primarily The Forgotten One. His true Eternal name has been erased from the machine.
  • Special Edition Title:
    • Issue 1 was accompanied by a 76-cover gallery, as seen here.
    • Issues 7 and 8 were accompanied by covers that featured the 2021 Eternals movie designs, to commemorate the release of the Eternals film.
  • Spiritual Successor: The book can be seen as one to Gillen's Journey into Mystery (Gillen) run with Kid Loki. Similar to that run, the book is about how immortal beings try to change and, in Kid Loki's case, cannot due to outside forces.
  • Staking the Loved One: Thena stays with Tolau until the end, killing him as soon as the Changing Curse starts to mutate him.
  • The Starscream: Invoked, defied and played straight with Druig. Everyone assumes he's in league with Thanos given his long history, but it turns out he isn't. However, he later offers an alliance with Thanos - turns out he's actually offended that he wasn't picked for the role.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Sui-San’s fate at the hands of her son, Thanos. She wakes up screaming when the machine resurrects her.
  • Suicide Mission: Ajak’s initial encounter with the ancient Avengers, who attack her as soon as she mentions working for the Celestials. Death is just an inconvenience, so her main aim is to survive long enough to understand them and assess the risk they pose.
  • Super Mob Boss: The Tricks hold this role in Eternal society.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Ikaris follows Toby Robson around to ensure no harm comes to him. Rather than gratitude, he’s viewed with fear and apprehension, because a hero on guard means danger is going to come sooner or later.
    • Kingo is an Eternal fighter, but up against Captain America and Black Panther, two super-soldiers possessing focus and determination in comparison to his hammy nature, he is quickly outmatched.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Because direct combat between Eternals is futile, unless one of them is excluded they will eventually engage in a telepathic debate along with physical combat.
  • Time Abyss: The Eternals (2006) series already moved them into this territory, suggesting that Earth’s Eternals were all about half a million years old. The soft reboot for this series revises that to a full million years.
  • The Trickster: As she points out, Sprite is a trickster and therefore does not obey the rules told to her.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Eternal democracy seems prone to this.
    • Druig manages to get Thanos elected as Prime Eternal with some shrewd political manipulation of the various Eternal factions.
    • After disposing of Thanos at the end of the second arc, Druig takes the role of Prime Eternal himself - and immediately starts looking for an external threat that can be scapegoated to unify his people.
  • Underestimating Badassery: For all his power, Thanos doesn’t come out of his first few clashes with the Eternals all that well,
    • Sprite tricks him with illusions, allowing Ikaris to escape
    • Druig telepathically immobilizes Thanos - only briefly, but long enough for Thena to impale him on her sword. An injured Thanos is forced to flee.
    • Faced by Sersi, Thena, Kingo, Ikaris and the Forgotten One, Thanos very nearly dies. He’s only accidentally saved because Phastos teleports everyone away.
  • Underground City: Earth's Eternals are resurrected in "The Exclusion", an Eternal city that is "sealed between six artificial molecules, secreted beneath the South Pole."
  • Unperson: One of the ‘Location Unknown’ Eternals listed in the first issue is simply “(All Records Lost)”.
  • Unseen No More:
    • After being named in the Eternals' character handbook (1983), Daina of Times Past, wife of Kronos and mother of Zuras and A'Lars, finally makes an in-person appearance during 2021’s Eternals: Thanos Rising.
    • Oceanus, brother of Kronos and Uranos, was first mentioned by name in Captain Marvel in 1973. Almost 49 years later, he finally appears in Eternals: The Heretic (2022).
  • Unusual Eyebrows: Daina of the Gaian Sisterhood. Accentuated by the fact that she’s also bald.
  • Villainous Rescue: Druig manages to save the day with a failsafe he used on Thanos. This gets him the seat of Prime Eternal, to most Eternals' chagrin.
  • Villain Over for Dinner: Sersi is more of an anti-heroic character, but the Machine notes that a favorite strategy of hers is having dinner with her targets. She does it twice in the comic, with Tony Stark and Namor. On a third occasion, the Deviant warlord Kro turns the tables and invites Sersi to dinner.
  • Weak to Magic: Ajak notes that Eternals are not so well equipped to defend against magical attacks.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • A'Lars. Creating children - a new generation of Eternals with biological parents - may not seem an extreme aim. But he’s willing to wage a war against Zuras’s faction when he’s denied permission to research this.
    • Phastos in the first arc. He tried to permanently kill the Eternals because every time they resurrect, the price is paid with human lives. And earth now has plenty of superheroes who can defend humanity without that cost.
  • We Would Have Told You, But...: The Eternals debate telling the Avengers about their troubles, but decide against it to try to manage their own affairs. But keeping the Avengers in the dark causes suspicion and distrust to arise, leading to the two groups to face off.
  • Wham Line:
    • Druig to Thanos: "I understand you have an ally among the Eternals who has been assisting you. I find this deeply offensive. You needed a traitor and you didn't come straight to me?"
    • Ikaris is revived... "...and Toby Robson dies."
    • Ajak to Makkari: "A million years ago, I made a mistake. I let the Avengers live."
    • Ajak to Makkari: "The Deviants.. ..they are the important ones"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite the series - and especially the Thanos Rises special - discussing the politics around Eternal children, so far there's been no appearance by (or mention of) any of Thena's known children (Don Ritter, Deb Ritter and Joey Eliot). Especially notable in Joey's case, as he's still young enough to need adult care.
  • Whatthe Hell Hero: Sersi gets this from the Avengers, who aren't happy that their rival Thanos was briefly ruler of the Earth and that and their investigations into their Celestial were be hidden from them.
  • When All You Have is a Hammer…: Subverted — the Machine actually explains how Phastos using a big hammer to fix things is not just him hammering things:
    Do not be confused by the KNNNKK of the hammer. It's a precision Celestial tool, every strike uploading a new combination of instructions. If you have the right hammer, all tasks are nails.
  • Wicked Cultured: Thanos presents as this as he has under Jim Starlin.
    • During his attack on Lemuria he takes a moment away from the slaughter to appreciate and criticize Tolau’s latest statue. Although he disagrees with the message, he’s quite appreciative of the artistry.
    • Throughout his appearances he explains his life in a poetry motif after seeing Ikaris is a fellow "poet of annihilation" he invites him to "trade verse". He describes his massacres as a "symphoney" in another instance and before meeting Uranus claims his brother Eros is the "doggerel" to his verse.
  • Yandere: Ajak has an obsequious piety towards the Celestials and reacts with murderous jealousy towards anyone they interact with more directly or clearly. She futilely tried to kill Makkari when they started talking to her, and near immediately decides she must kill the Avengers once informed that they were plainly given Avengers Mountain.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Ikaris sees a vision of himself in the future, mourning Tony Robson at Tony’s grave. He pledges to protect him, asks Sprite to guard the boy, and then gives his own life to fix the lethal malfunctions of the Machine that endanger Tony - and all of the earth. As an Eternal, he’s promptly resurrected, though. And the hidden cost of that resurrection is Tony’s life.
  • You Have Failed Me: Played with. Thanos tells Eternal scientist Domo that he’ll be killed if he fails. Rather than trying to trick him, Domo honestly admits his failure. Thanos kills him, keeping his word - but then puts him to the front of the resurrection queue so that he can resume work (and acknowledges his honesty).
  • You Never Did That for Me: After a million years of serving the Celestials and interpreting their cryptic messages, Ajak discovers that they simply talked to the Avengers. No riddles, just a simple statement. She immediately decides that she made a mistake in not killing the original Avengers a very long time ago. She even rationalizes that this must be a hidden mandate given to her by way of the Avengers because the Celestials are usually cryptic.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: Uranos' theses on the Principles programmed into the Eternals concludes that any deviation is excess and that life on the planet is independent to the function of the Machine, thus both must be purged. Furthermore, while they must protect Celestials, there's nothing saying the Celestials need to be free under their protection.


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