In 1976, the legendary Jack Kirby introduced comic readers to a race of immortal and powerful superhumans that secretly lived along side humanity and were sometimes worshipped as gods. That race was the Eternals, and many of them went on to make profound impacts on the Marvel Universe. Now thirty years later, “The Eternals” will be reintroduced and brought to the forefront of the Marvel Universe in a six issue mini-series by writer Neil Gaiman and artist John Romita Jr. In part one of our two part feature on the Eternals, CBR News spoke with Editor Nick Lowe about the series.
“Eternals” was born out of discussions between Gaiman and Marvel Editor-In- Chief Joe Quesada about what Neil’s follow up to “1602,” his first Marvel Comics project, would be. “From my memory, it was actually a pretty organic process between Joe Quesada and Neil,” Lowe told CBR News. “They bounced a few ideas back and forth
(one was a Nick Fury project that I’m hoping Neil will do in a few years) but one of the things that Joe wanted Neil to do was take a Marvel property that wasn’t active and turn it into something that we can utilize for a long time after he’s done. ‘Eternals’ was something Neil loved from a long time ago and Joe was crazy about the idea. Now all the ‘Eternals’ have to do is make it out of the series alive so we can use them…”
Lowe promised that the characters that do make it out of the ‘Eternals’ mini-series alive will be making big splashes when they next appear. “This series sets The Eternals up to be a huge force in the Marvel Universe,” Lowe explained. “We’ve been talking about it up here in editorial and planning just how they’ll fit in to major Marvel events once this mini wraps. Many fans will remember what a big part Sersi played in the Marvel Universe when she was in’ ‘Avengers/’ When this is done, even more Eternals characters will have major roles in the Marvel Universe.”
With a huge cast of characters that comprise The Eternals, some readers might be wondering which Eternals will be playing a major role in the mini-series. “All the major Eternals from Jack’s original run will make appearances in this book, but not all the Eternals,” Lowe said. “Thanos and the other Eternals of Titan will not be making major appearances in the book.”
Based on the solicits, one Eternal who might be playing a prominent role in the mini-series is Ikaris, who may or may not be a man named Ike Harris. “At the beginning of issue #1, Ike is a mysterious figure,” Lowe stated. “I don’t want to say much more than that, but what I will say is that a lot of people think he’s a few DVD’s short of a collectors pack.”
Ike Harris is a prominent character in “Eternals,” but he’s not the protagonist of the series. “Actually, Mark Curry is the character that gets the most face time in Eternals,” Lowe explained. “He’s a doctor that has several confusing run-ins with Ike and he has a lot to come to terms with.”
The issues that Mark Curry has to come to terms with are both personal and large scale and are a part of the plot of “Eternals.” “I don’t want to give much plot away, but I’ll give you some of the themes that Neil is playing with in the series,” Lowe stated. “It’s about identity and memory. It’s about creation and the great mysteries of life. And it’s about action and epic cosmic-ness (which is a word I just made up).”
The action and epic cosmic-ness of “Eternals” will take readers all around the globe. The main action of the series will take place all over the Earth, with it starting in New York City, the heart of the Marvel Universe. In addition to exploring many exotic locales, “Eternals” will also examine events in both the present and past. “Since the very nature of the Eternals is so far reaching, time-wise, it would be silly not to at least touch on things in the past,” Lowe explained. “So, yes, there will definitely be flashbacks, but the story takes place right now in current Marvel continuity.”
“Eternals” may be a tale of godlike super beings set in the Marvel Universe, but like all of Neil Gaiman’s stories it features of cast of authentic, identifiable and human seeming characters. “One thing I love about Neil is his range,” Lowe stated. “He can tell dark adult stories, quirky children’s books and fun adventure stories. But, there is always a visceral human soul in each character that he writes. One of my favorite things about ‘1602’ was how different it was from something like ‘Sandman.’ ‘Eternals’ is a step in a different direction. Here Neil goes from huge cosmic adventure (bigger than anything he’s written) to the dark alleys of New York to the glitz of Hollywood, but always takes deep thorough looks at the all-too-human characters that are involved.
“One of the big differences from the rest of Neil’s comic work is the involvement of John Romita Jr. Johnny injects so much energy into this project,” continued Lowe. “Neil turned in the script to the first issue and once he saw the first few pages that Johnny drew (including the huge double spread that people have seen) that Neil completely changed the first script to unleash Johnny even more. Every few pages include a challenge from Neil to Johnny – ‘Okay, so you can draw that. How about this crazy thing?! Oh. That’s amazing. What about this?!’ and so on…
“In the next few months there are going to be lots of stories about Neil and Johnny, all much deserved,” Lowe continued. “At the same time, there are a few other people very involved in this project that aren’t going to get the limelight they deserve. Danny Miki is one. JRJR has been in the industry for a long time and has been inked by so many brilliant inkers. With that in mind, and no slight to any of those guys who did amazing jobs in the past, Danny is bringing so much to the table with ‘Eternals.’ IMO, this is the best Johnny’s ever looked. Danny is so talented and it shows on every page of this book.
“Another huge force on the project is Matt Hollingsworth. His involvement was one of Neil’s first requests on this project. Before the length of the project was decided and before Johnny’s involvement was 100% Neil asked that Matt color this project and I couldn’t have been happier. Matt was one of the first colorists I worked with when I was with Marvel Knights and is in the top three colorists in this industry. We’re so lucky to have him.
“Todd Klein is lettering this book, and for that I am so fortunate. Todd is a professional, a gentleman and a true artist. Anyone who says that lettering isn’t an art has obviously not looked at Todd’s lettering. He’s the greatest letterer of all time. There, I said it.
“Last, but certainly not least is Rick Berry, who’s providing the main covers for the series. Rick’s involvement was also Neil’s idea,” continued Lowe. “We wanted someone who was going to give us covers that were unlike anything else in comics and Rick is that. His vision and talent jump off everything he does and these covers are no exception. His name might not be widely known in this industry right now, but that’s going to change really quickly.”
CBR News’s cosmic powered coverage of the ‘Eternals’ continues in part two of our spotlight on the mini-series tomorrow, when we talk to artist John Romita Jr. about the book.