Millions of years ago, a group of alien space gods called the Celestials came to Earth in order 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?
After all these years, the Eternals might be faced with something completely new: change.
Tropes included in Eternals (2021):
- 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.
- Back from the Dead:
- The book follows the Eternals' previous appearance in Jason Aaron's Avengers, in which they killed themselves after discovering the terrible truth regarding their purpose.
- He's Back: After his apparent death in Donny Cates' Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos reappears at the ruins of Titanos, ready to fight Ikaris.
- Brain Food: It was pointed out that the Deviant Ikaris and Sprite fought was eating someone's brains.
- The Bus Came Back: Sprite returns after being killed by Zuras during the Gaiman run, now taking the appearance of a young girl, but with no memory of her previous self's actions.
- 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.
- Continuity Nod:
- Sprite is finally resurrected after his death during Neil Gaiman's Eternals mini-series. The reason they were excluded, too, are touched upon and the fact they were killed by Zuras.
- In the first issue, Iron Man asks Ikaris if he's "gonna freak out again," nodding back to Jason Aaron's Avengers #1, when Ikaris last talked to Iron Man before he (Ikaris) died.
- When the Machine talks about the Excluded (those not resurrected 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.
- 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.
- Gender Flip: When Eternals are resurrected, they can choose to change their gender. Both Sprite and Makkari are now female.
- 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.
- Human Resources: A recurring theme in Deviant efforts to extend their lifespan. Feeding off human brain matter and harvesting human organs, for example...
- The Hecate Sisters: The "Gaian Sisters," as listed in the list of Eternals, are Daina of Times Past, Cybele of Times Present, and Tulayn of Times Future.
- 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."
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Sprite was restored from an old backup, so that they would have no memory of their attempt to destroy the Machine and kill the other Eternals (from Gaiman's run). This also means that they don't really know about modern human society at all, so are amazed by everything they see.
- 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.
- 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."
- Meaningful Name: The two guardians of the Exclusion, where problematic Eternals are imprisoned and prevented from fully resurrecting, echo famous names from mythological afterlives: theyre Kharon and Ur-Luciva.
- Naked on Arrival: The first issue begins with Ikaris's resurrection, after which he is completely nude for three pages.
- 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.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Averted. We finally get a name for The Interloper (Betilakk), whos only ever been known by his nickname since the characters introduction in 1985. Gillens interviews and newsletter suggest that a real name for Vampiro (introduced in 1979) has also been introduced.
- Pocket Dimension: Most of the Eternals' cities are set in these:
- 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."
- Titanos is "superimposed between three seconds from now and two seconds ago."
- Lemuria is "positioned in an reality-haunt adjacent to the Pacific Ocean floor."
- 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."
- 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.
- Race Lift: Makkari's new body isn't just female, but with dark skin, too. The same thing with Phastos (who previously was depicted as white).
- Reincarnation: The series begins with the reincarnations of dead Eternals, some of which in new bodies unlike their previous ones. Sprite comes back as a young girl, while Makkari comes back as a woman with dark skin. (These new depictions, of course, are in line with the actors who portray them in the Eternals film.)
- Issue 3 shows Sersi and Thena meeting 100,000 years ago. Both had a slightly different appearance back then, with darker skin.
- Ret-Canon: An interesting variation: the MCU Eternals movie hadn't come out yet when this series began, 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 do every 25 to 30,000 years.
- Retcon: The first data page (which is also the recap page) lists all of the Eternals previously known, plus more. They are also recategorized into which city they come from, what type of Eternal they are, and some are even classified or the data has been lost.
- Resurrective Immortality: It does not matter when or how an Eternal dies, they can simply be recreated again. The only ones that are not resurrected are those who are "excluded," Eternals who committed acts so heinous that Eternal Prime decided they wouldn't be resurrected.
- Shout-Out: One of the Eternals still alive in Polaria is named "Soule the Charred."
- Spiritual Successor: The book can be seen as one to Gillen's Journey into Mystery 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.
- The Trickster: As she points out, Sprite is a trickster and therefore does not obey the rules told to her.
- Underground City: Ikaris is resurrected in "The Exclusion," an Eternal city that is "sealed between six artificial molecules, secreted beneath the South Pole."