Unfinished Business

Eternals #4-6

Eternals #6 cover

Story by Charles & Daniel Knauf
Art by Daniel Acuña
Letters by Todd Klein

I decided to stick with Eternals until the end of its initial storyline, despite being singularly uninpressed by the first three issues. My mistake. Charles and Daniel Knauf continue to spin an Eternals story as pedestrian as it is predictable.

I don't know why it's so hard to grasp the fact that the Eternals are not interesting in and of themselves. On their own, they're just a generic group of super-people, without much in the way of personality and motivation, and the Knaufs don't seem inclined to provide either. If these were the only six issues of Eternals you'd ever read, you would have no idea who these characters are. There's not much that distinguishes Thena from Ikaris or Sersi other than the role dictated for them by the plot.

Consider Phastos. One of the major subplots of the first six issues is that the Antarctic Eternals are competing with the Vorozhekhian Eternals to find and awaken new Eternals. But it's never explained why the Eternals are hidden, or why we should prefer Thena and Ikaris to Druig. Thena spends several issues trying to reawaken Phastos, but we're never told who Phastos is, other than a guy with a big hammer. Worse, when he's finally awakened, he proves to be next to useless, unable to use his expertise to help his fellow Eternals out of the jam that they're in. In short, an awful lot of space is spent exploring a sub-plot that doesn't go anywhere.

In a more general sense, selling the Eternals as straight superheros is a losing proposition. Despite the current popularity of superhero movies, the general public really has no interest in straight-up superheroes — very few of them have ever really broken through to the mainstream.1 To sell a superhero you need to have a twist that makes the comic about more than about big beefo people beating the crap out of each other for no discernible reason — people can get that from any random issue of Youngblood from the mid-'90s, or from any other aspect of our culture for that matter. Eternals tries to hint at something more, at a forthcoming alien horde that may devour the planet, but is unable to sell that as just another alien invasion plot (and it's hard to get excited about another alien invasion in the wake of the one that the Marvel universe has just had).

Eternals #5 p. 17

Eternals #5, p. 17

Once again, I'm surprised with how quickly I've become bored with Daniel Acuña's art. In two years he hasn't bothered to show us anything new, and his flaws are now readily apparent. Consider the above page — it's got an appealing high-gloss look, but could it be any less energetic? I mean, a man is geting his back broken, but the storytelling is plodding, the composition uninspired, and the poses strangely devoid of any action. All the shiny textures in the world can't save this page from itself.

In short, Eternals is a total misfire of a series, bland and uninspiring, that tries to cover up its flaws with some shiny new paint. It's just not worth your time to check it out.

  1. In order of conception: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, the Justice League, Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, Wolverine, and Spawn (maybe). Those are the superheroes that a random person on the street can name off the top of his head. Which isn't to say the general public hasn't heard of other heroes, but they'll be damned if they can tell you anything other than their names.

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