Or – “Time Is An Illusion. Lunchtime, Doubly So.”

exi9.jpgreviewbubble.jpgIn my other job, I have been fielding a lot of questions about why the series was solicited as 6 issues, but the story hasn’t ended here. Indeed, until this issue, each month’s Eternals bore the legend “(issue #) of 6.” Simple answer: Neil Gaiman asked for more pages to finish out his story, and, with millions upon millions of Sandman trades in circulation, you don’t say no to Neil Gaiman. He’s the nicest 500 pound gorilla in comics. When I covered issue four of this series, sometime back in the late Pleistocene era, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the art, the mysteries of the plot, and the overall cosmic scope of what was going on… Now that the end is near, how has the series fared?

exi1.jpgWell, I’ll say one thing right off… The covers are not doing this product ANY justice. They’re interesting, in their own strange esoteric way, but if you were judging a book by it’s cover, you’d have little to no idea what’s going on inside of this one. Worst of all, as the series progresses, they’ve gotten more abstract and garish, while the art inside gets sleeker and more majestic. Sadly, I don’t have nearly enough money to buy the John Romita Jr alternate covers each month, so I’m stuck looking at a cover painting where Makkari looks like a merging of Spider-Man and Toucan Sam, and Thena, the legendary blonde bombshell, most beautiful of Eternals, looks like nothing so much as Ralph Malph with a rake on her head. It just doesn’t work for me, and the responses I’ve seen from comic buyers haven’t been positive.

As of last issue, the renegade Eternal Sprite, angry at having to spend eternity as a child, had totally failed in his attempt to live a normal life. Having harnessed the powers of the Dreaming Celestial (one of Marvel’s most powerful deux ex machinas) to wipe knowledge of the Eternals from everyone’s mind and give himself a perfect existence as a human child, Sprite’s made only one, fundamental mistake. He gravely underestimated the will of his fellow Eternal Ikaris. Now, his plan is officially and completely screwed, as the Dreaming Celestial is awakening, and nobody is safe.


Millions of humans are being drawn into the D.C.’s dreaming state, channeling the bits of his consciousness. Hmm… Neil Gaiman? Dreaming? That rings a bit of a bell… Ikaris, Thena, and Sersi, having regained at least part of their powers and knowledge, attempt to approach the Celestial’s body, buried beneath San Francisco. They’re swatted down like insects, and once again, it’s only Ikaris’ will that keeps it together. He catches his pseudo-siblings (as well as Thena’s human son) and swoops in low, both to avoid the attack of the Kirby dots, and to examine the seemingly inert body of Makkari.


Before Sersi can finish insulting him, Ikaris immediately ends up in ANOTHER fight, this time with the two Deviants (Gaiman calls them “Changing People”) that assisted Sprite in his machinations. Ikaris burns one, and the other takes Thena’s son hostage, only to be turned into a tree by Sersi. As Thena hugs her son, telling him it’s going to be okay, Sersi snarkily points out that NOTHING is going to be okay, noticing that the Celestial has turned from black to gold, apparently waking once and for all. How bad is that?


Okay. That’s bad. When Galactus gets the willies, it’s time to bend over and osculate the posterior, the better to remember it by. Annnd, just in time to make things worse, The Avengers arrive. It’s unclear where this takes place, exactly, but it IS during the events of the Civil War, as Iron Man and Yellowjacket keep referring to registration. The Wasp, for her part, has zoned out, and is now part of the Celestial’s mindlink, babbling poetically, as crazy Neil Gaiman characters do. Tony Stark comes in hard and fast, only to be greeted by Thena who, until last issue, worked for him in her false human guise. For the last six months, I’ve been waiting for somebody to lay the Smacketh Downeth on Tony, if only for catharsis, and Thena Domo, daughter of Zuras, first scion of the King of The Eternals is ready to oblige. Not only does she take him out, it’s the quintessential two hit fight: Thena hits Tony, Tony hits pavement.


That was satisfying, even if it was brief. Meanwhile, Yellowjacket confronts Ikaris, who speaks plainly and openly, telling Hank he doesn’t want any piece of an Eternal. Hank thinks it’s a threat, and responds with bravado, growing to huge size, seventy feet tall if he’s an inch, but Ikaris uses a mind whammy to make him stand there and stay out from under foot. The plan, apparently, is to use Hank’s shadow to block some of the solar energy that the Celestial is powering up with. Sersi and Ikaris yell a bit, when suddenly, the golden figure moves…


See that tiny red circle? THAT is Giant-Man/Yellowjacket, still at his 70 foot height. This is not only merely bad, ’tis really most sincerely bad. Luckily for Ikaris, unexpected reinforcements are on the way. The reinforcement? Zuras himself, back from the dead. Ajak, Speaker to Eternals. And Druig, the most evil of them all. Ikaris greets his friend, his enemy, and his king (y’ever notice how often Neil uses the theme of the trinity in his work?) and the five of them (including Thena, but not the sincerely freaked out Sersi) concoct a plan. Ikaris had tried and failed to speak to the Celestial, but there’s a trick they haven’t tried yet: The Uni-Mind. They attempt to mind-meld with giant, but find it’s not as easy as all that.


The Dreaming One doesn’t wanna hear it, and so we’re royally #(@*$ed, right? Not exactly. See, C-Dogg does want to parley, just not with them. No, he’s got the fiver for the flavor of Makkari. What’s so special about the big red blur? “I created you,” says the McDreamy. Mark nods sagely, as he KNEW the Eternals were created by The Celestials, but the Dreaming Celestial is speaking literally. The big guy PERSONALLY created Makkari with his own two hands… “I wanted to design/construct one of you for speed.” Can you imagine how freaked out Makkari must be right now? Personally, I’m not entirely sure I ever want to meet my maker, certainly not in a dream that looks like we’re having coffee together. The Big C asks about Iron Man, oddly, and Makkari gives him the 411: millionaire playboy, heart condition, metal tuxedo, blah blah blah fishcakes. Dreamy almost smirks, explaining that I-Man is wide awake, and his armor has been perfectly functional for minutes already, but he’s biding his time. The Celestial actually says he LIKES the little metal guy (which reminds me of Doctor Manhattan asking about whether Ozymandias liked the black or red ants better), and tells Makkari, cryptically that it’s hard to be the prophet…


“… when the last shadow falls, I will pronounce my judgement.” Uh oh. It’s morning now, does that mean that there’s less than a day left until all hockeysticks breaks loose? Makkari is returned to his full Eternal powers and costume (although missing the big ugly helmet he used to wear), and awakens his fellow Eternals. He calls Tony’s bluff, and the humans are finally allowed into the inner circle. He will come back to judge the Earth, says Makkari, not just the people on it. Tony and Hank show the kind of bravado you get from having your first mission be against a Norse Gawd…


Ouch. I mean, seriously, ouch. I’m not a religious man by nature, but that’s a line that I’m not sure I’m comfortable with. Still, the smirk is nice. Faced with the probability of certain death, the end of humanity, red skies, burning seas, DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER!! Sorry, Venkman moment. Even given all that, what does Tony fixate on? The Superhuman Registration Act. Seriously? Zuras looks at him like The Queen of England might look at a gassy redneck in spandex, and makes the strongest argument about Civil War thus far.


Romita does a brilliant job with Zuras’ “You Are All Beneath Me” baleful gaze in those panels, as he does with everything else in the issue. He even manages to make the new “Disco Bondage” Iron Man suit look good, and his redesign/streamlining of Kirby’s Ikaris & Makkari designs is not less than revelatory. It’s a shame that the plot is going so many different places.

The story this issue is, frankly, a mess. Sure, it’s a glorious mess, and the plot threads seem to be finally coming together, but there’s just TOO MUCH here to coalesce into a coherent whole. The Civil War bits of the story really feel tacked on, as though the book was ready to go, when editorial told Gaiman he had to deal with this, as well. Zuras and company’s arrival was well-timed, but he and Ajak have had almost no character development, and we only know Druig as pure evil on a stick. It’s hard to cheer for a telepathic bastard sadist and two cyphers, even when they are here to save the day. The Dreaming Celestial plotline is finally going somewhere, but it feels like there was a lot of stalling, hemming and hawing to get there. For all the poetic imagery, it feels unfocused, and brings my overall rating for the issue down to two stars. Hopefully, the wrap-up in issue #7 will bring back my enthusiasm.


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Salieri
    February 8, 2007 at 12:22 pm — Reply

    1) Notice how Makkari’s face seems to resemble that of the Dreaming Celestials, down tot he square eyes and curvy mouth-thing?

    2) Strangely enough, Neil Gaiman did do a Douglas Adams Biography…

  2. Matthew Peterson
    February 8, 2007 at 10:37 pm — Reply

    Y’know, I never noticed the Makkari/Celestial resemblance until you pointed it out… That’s interesting…

  3. Salieri
    February 25, 2007 at 5:25 pm — Reply

    Heh. I bet Neil and John snuck that in as a little ‘in his own image’ reference…

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