Comic Book Recap & Review – Eternals (2021-): Only Death Is Eternal

I’ve decided to try out something new this week. Today’s post will be a recap and review of a recent comic book arc. I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate comic books into the blog in a more substantial way than my New Comic Book Day posts, and I think spending some time describing and reviewing a recent release is a good start. I chose the new Eternals book because the first arc of the book ended in today’s release of the sixth issue, which means I’m not as ridiculously behind as I am on most other titles. I also knew absolutely nothing about the Eternals going into reading this book, and I wanted to learn about them prior to the release of their movie later this year. Without further ado, here is my Recap & Review of the first arc of Eternals (2021-), Only Death is Eternal.

Recap (Spoiler Alert!)

The story begins with the rebirth of Ikaris, who is apparently the last of the Eternals to be reborn after what seems to be some sort of previous battle or cataclysm. He is given the directive to free Sprite from imprisonment that happens to Eternals who go wrong and endanger the everlasting mission of protecting Earth and humanity from the Deviants. Not long after being woken up, Ikaris and Sprite find the leader of the Eternals murdered and go off to find the killer. During the pursuit, they find Thanos in the wrecked city of Titanos, which houses what appear to be glimpses through time. It is in one of these glimpses/portals that Ikaris see himself standing over the grave of a boy while giving an apology.

A fight between Ikaris and Thanos ensues with them falling through different time portals as they fight. Eventually they end up back on Titanos, where it appears Thanos kills Ikaris. However, Sprite has played a trick that makes it seem like Ikaris has died while the two of them escape Titanos to return to Olympus. Upon their return, they find out the machine that resurrects the Eternals, which apparently is intricately intertwined with the planet Earth, is broken, and their leader will not be coming back. The infighting and finger-pointing start immediately since they all know it must be one of them to have orchestrated the whole plot. Only an Eternal would have access to the portals needed to undermine the machine. So, a group of them, led by Sersi, decided to band together to solve the mystery, while Ikaris sets out to find and protect the boy whose grave he saw in the time portal on Titanos.

Sersi and her group seek out Thena, who is living in Lemuria with the Deviants. The day prior Thena fought with her father, the ruler of the Eternals, and decided to leave to live in Lemuria to help the Deviants rather than just hunt them. Therefore, she is now a prime suspect for the murder of her father, especially since she has loved Deviants in the past, which has never ended well. She decides to join their group and attempt to find her father’s murderer, as well. Meanwhile, Ikaris begins standing watch over the boy when violent weather disturbances start happening all over the Earth, which are a result of the malfunctions happening in the machine. Earth appears to be coming undone. The group of investigators then find out that most of the Eternals in Polaria, another major city of Eternals, have been murdered, as well. This leads suspicion to Druig, who has now become the highest ranking living Eternal of that city.

The struggle to fix the machine rages on as Phastos attempts to stabilize things and keep the destruction from growing on Earth. Sersi’s group decided to investigate the deaths that occurred in Polaria. While members of the investigative group question Druig, Thanos appears out of nowhere spoiling for a fight. During the battle, Druig uses his mind tricks to stall Thanos, and Thena is able to run him threw with a sword before he portals away. However, Druig planted a message in Thanos’s mind, which called him back after the fight ended and the other Eternals had left. When Thanos reappears, Druig makes clear he would like to work together with Thanos and begins to make plans now that the suspicion is off of him for the murders.

The investigative team have devised a plan to bait another Eternal under suspicion, Gilgamesh. The plan works leading to a fight between Ikaris and Gilgamesh, who has abandoned the Eternals and strikes against them if they harm humans. Ikaris wins the fight, and the group interrogates Gilgamesh. Meanwhile, Druig is meeting with Thanos and finds out another Eternal has been pulling his strings the entire time. The group decided to travel to the machine so that Gilgamesh can prove he is not the one who has disabled it even though he has been known to do it in the past. Upon arriving, he is able to show he didn’t perform the sabotage, but he and the group are able to isolate the problem. They realize only one person could have done it, Phastos. The machine begins to blow up around him as he continues to try to stabilize it to stop the destruction on Earth. He expresses he is trying to destroy the Eternals but not the Earth just as the group enters a portal to travel to confront Phastos only to find Thanos waiting for them.

It turns out Phastos set up this entire ordeal to destroy the Eternals and made a deal to resurrect Thanos if he helped him succeed. Thanos attacks the group of Eternals, and it seems like they are about to defeat him when Phastos transports them all away to random locations around the world. He realizes he has doomed the world and needs their help to stop it. Ikaris is the only one able to fly to the rescue and saves the world by stabilizing the machine, but he loses his life in the process. Throughout all of this, Sprite has been protecting the boy Ikaris was worried about, who has managed to survive all of the upheaval happening on Earth. Phastos reveals his reasons for his actions to the other Eternals. It turns out that each time an Eternal is resurrected, a human dies. It is at this point that Ikaris is resurrected, and the boy he tried so hard to protect dies as a result. The whole group decides to leave Eternal society as a result of being shaken by this revelation and move to Lemuria to live with the Deviants.

My Review

These six issues packed a major punch. I enjoyed the story and found the nihilistic attitude toward the eternal conflict an interesting one, especially when coupled with the cost of the resurrections that continue the fighting. It is also always nice to see the mad Titan in action. However, there was a lot I was confused about, such as why the Earth was narrating the story and who was sacrificed for the resurrections before there were humans if the beings are truly eternal and pre-date humanity. At times, the story felt a lot like a history lesson, which was interesting but also difficult to follow for someone with no knowledge of the Eternals. Although, the writers did a good job of spreading the history out over the issues so it wasn’t all so overwhelming at once, and they included brief interludes that introduced many of the key characters and historical events. This definitely seems like a more obscure and somewhat convoluted part of the Marvel universe, but I liked it nonetheless. I’m definitely curious to see where the story goes next.

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