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Eternals by Jack Kirby: The Complete Collection Paperback – Import, 7 July 2020
- Publisher : Marvel; 1st edition (7 July 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1302922009
- ISBN-13 : 978-1302922009
- Reading age : 9 years and up
- Item Weight : 612 g
- Dimensions : 16.76 x 2.54 x 25.78 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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The Eternals, with a cover clearly inspired by a story from two decades earlier, “The Great Stone Face” from Black Cat Mystic 57, is another epic about god-like alien visitors, done before as both the Kree and the New Gods post-Thor, but with Kirby involved, it never gets old. This, after all, is the sort of thing we expect from the master, it’s what he does best, easily distinguishable good guys and bad guys on a cosmic level. The Deviants, inspiration for our mythical demons and devils, are a wonderful creation (red-hued villain Kro grows a pair of horns just to get a rise out of hapless humans, and does). The massive Celestials, huge metallic robot-like monsters standing on pylons (as if they needed to), are mind-blowing. And there are some incredible and unique moments—the Eternal Samurai who has become a Japanese movie star playing Samurai, the Russian General and his aides who morph into Eternals, the SHIELD agents who come to a weird but potentially temporary end, and the grotesque violent powerful giant red slob of a monster who turns out to be a sensitive and intelligent soul when not forced to fight. The stage was set.
Had he produced it for Fantastic Four, and dropped those characters into the storyline, it might have occupied the strip for quite a few issues and provided curious characters to come back to occasionally, as with the Inhumans and the Kree. But Kirby insisted on being a law unto himself, and the result is a strangely hollow, lifeless book initially outside the Marvel universe, with all the (rather dull) characters in place and nowhere to go. Issue 5, for example, with the Deviants running amok through New York, screams out for an appearance by the Avengers and others. And Kirby’s art screams out for the corrective pen of Joe Sinnott, rather than the bold, obedient strokes of Mike Royer, who simply emphasises Kirby’s flaws, rather than corrects them.
When the Hulk was drafted in for a last ditch attempt to improve sales, an aggrieved Kirby refused to let it be the ‘real’ Marvel Hulk, and disappointed readers raged. With Kirby still hating on Marvel, and the Marvel staffers hating on Kirby (there was resentment that he’d simply been able to seize Captain America and Black Panther when he came back from their new writers, even though they were arguably ‘his’ characters), the only person rooting for Kirby’s return was Stan. It wasn’t enough, and his second tenure at Marvel was doomed. DC had achieved their initial objective at the beginning of the ‘70s—not to give him a new home, but to take him away from Marvel. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Kirby wasn’t even back at Marvel even when he *was* back at Marvel.
The Eternals isn’t the worst thing Kirby ever did. In fact, it’s probably the best of his solo projects. The Annual included is excellent, the best thing he’d done in a long time; a nasty piece of work is pulling warriors out of time, and pays the price when he over-reaches, leaving three of the more interesting Eternals to clear up the mess he left behind him. The most solid story in the book, with Kirby doing what he does best, action, strength, and power, it’s enough to send all other comic-book artists quaking into retirement.
It might have been better if the gods had kept the original spellings for their names, as Icarus, Mercury, and Circe are vastly superior to Ikaris, Makarri, and Sersi, but that’s a minor quibble. Also, Zeus and the Olympians are already represented in the Marvel universe, so that would need confronting eventually (there have since been sequels integrating the characters with the Marvel universe, but the art is so awful I can’t bring myself to attempt them). But I do find it interesting how some Marvel titles or storylines (the Spider-Man/Silvermane/stone tablet yarn comes to mind) work better as mini-series or ‘graphic novels’ read over a period of days, than as monthly comics waded through piecemeal, and The Eternals is certainly a perfect example of that. The Eternals is much better when read in blocks rather than as a few pages every four weeks. It was easy to lose patience with The Eternals when fed monthly morsels, as characters would disappear for issues at a time; read in chunks, it picks up momentum, rather than losing it. This is true of many of Marvel’s minor titles (Doctor Strange, for example), although it helps to have consistent creative credits.
I bought this for the art. It’s extraordinary, even with the ‘wrong’ inker. But it’s not enough. Good comics are the successful merging of artwork, story, and dialogue. Without the latter two working, the comic doesn’t work. It’s no mystery that The Eternals didn’t survive. As a monthly comic, it’s all over the place. Although the dialogue did gradually improve, there’s far too much cosmic waffle and not enough context. If there’s still anybody out there who thinks “Stan did nothing”, take an objective look at the numbers… Fighting American ran for nine issues, his decade-long Fantastic Four run with Stan was for one hundred issues (Thor almost the same), New Gods and Forever People ran for eleven issues, The Eternals ran for nineteen.
review is of 2020 trade paperback
Disappointingly after doing this review, noticed a really bad dent in the book. Sadly this seems to be happening more and more with my A. deliveries and I probably won't be buying any more similar tomes because of this. It is not the sort of book I can send back, I doubt if I could lift it down to the post office to send it back. So it will remain and now with a little bit of tape so the damage doesn't get any worse, annoying when it is 70 odd quid ... it should be in mint condition. I wish A. would re-add their package comments as I have a lot of issues with it of late