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Making a Case for an Eternals Revival!
By Chad Derdowski
February 16, 2011
Go ahead and file this one under “pipe dreams”, but it’s our soapbox and we’re gonna rant. And as usual, we’re gonna take the long way around, so bear with us.
Movies get remade all the time. Franchises get overhauled and rebooted only three films deep. Sometimes it’s infuriating and has us shaking an angry fist at an imaginary Hollywood sign in our minds over the lack of creativity found in the so-called arts. Other times, we’re totally on board, hoping that the re-imagined version of whatever it was that we loved before lives up to the standard we’ve set or better yet, surpasses the original, whatever the original may be.
It’s probably a lot easier for comic book fans to accept remakes, reboots and re-imaginings because we’re used to it. History gets rewritten all the time, whether it’s a forgotten identity or marriage, a new addition to a twice-told tale or a complete overhaul of an entire shared universe. We’re accustomed to big shake ups and small ones too. Sometimes a new artist comes on board and creates a new dynamic and other times… well, multiple universes get smooshed into one, rewriting five decades of history and rendering the continuity of our entire comic book collection a moot point.
But you already know all this, right? So what’s the point? What’re we getting at? We’re talking about the comic book version of the big screen remake and as we so often do, we’re talking about Jack Kirby. Specifically, The Eternals. We think it’s high time somebody laid a new set of eyes on this concept and revamped the characters for modern day. We’re not talking about another attempt at reintroducing the characters to the Marvel Universe; that never works. This time, we’re talking about starting over from scratch and (hopefully) adhering to Kirby’s original vision just a tad bit closer. We’re talking about setting the characters as far outside the traditional Marvel U as possible – an idea that may actually come to fruition, should the heirs to the Kirby throne win their case against Marvel and gain ownership of the characters. Think we’re crazy? Hear us out…
The Eternals debuted in 1976 and were part of Kirby’s return to Marvel after spending a few years over at DC working on New Gods, Kamandi, OMAC and others. Thematically, it bore more than a few similarities to the stuff he was doing in New Gods, but it had a lot more in common with Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods?. If you’re unfamiliar with this book (or its sequels), turn on the History Channel at any given time during the week and check out a show called Ancient Aliens. Seriously, the program seems to air 24-7 on the channel. It used to be that the History Channel showed non-stop WWII footage, but these days, they seem to be less focused on Nazis and more dedicated to the possibility of alien contact with primitive civilizations.
Anyway, Chariots of the Gods? puts forth the idea that humans were visited by aliens in ancient times and were worshipped as gods, which led to some of history’s more unexplainable aspects, such as pyramids, the Nazca lines in Peru, Stonehenge and the Moai of Easter Island. It was a popular theory back in the 1970’s, when shows like In Search Of ruled the airwaves and drugs were a lot more socially acceptable, but the boring scientists of the real world tend to shun these sorts of ideas. We at Comicscape grew up on these types of progams, as well as the work of the comic book masters and late night radio programs like Art Bell’s AM Coast to Coast, so it should come as no surprise that we’re hip to what von Däniken and Kirby were layin’ down. Obviously, a lot of other people are too, because as we previously stated, the History Channel plays that damn Ancient Aliens show all the time! We can’t be the only ones watching it… although, that would be one hell of a conspiracy theory right there.
Anyway, back to comic books and the Eternals. Now, the book wasn’t exactly a smash hit and lasted only a couple of years. This probably has something to do with the fact that while Jack was probably the best idea man who ever worked in the field and one hell of an amazing and influential artist, his skills as a writer weren’t exactly on par with the rest of his genius. The characters, as previously stated, were the super powered (and in some cases, super disfigured) result of alien tampering with ancient earthlings who had returned to cast judgement on the world. After the series was cancelled, the characters were written into Marvel continuity and have seen several attempts at revival, none of which have lasted very long.
We feel that the main problem with this is that whole Marvel continuity thing. The Eternals were not intended to be a part of the mainstream Marvel U and when bound to the laws of that universe, they just don’t work – not even with Neil Gaiman and John Romita jr. working on the book! Our vision for a new Eternals series? Scrap everything that came before, re-read the original series, figure out what works and what doesn’t and retell the story the way it was (presumably) meant to be told. Only… well, better. Sorry Jack, we love ya but dialogue and narrative weren’t really your strong suit.
How many of you reading this also read superhero comic books? Oh yeah, that would be all of you. How many of you watch Ancient Aliens, or are at least cool to the notions of science fiction and alien visitors? We’re not asking if you actually believe any of that stuff, we’re just asking if it interests you? Don’t lie – we know you like spaceships. Okay, now what if somebody like Jonathan Hickman was writing a comic book, or maybe just a one-shot graphic novel based on that type of stuff? See? You’d read it, wouldn’t you?
We think a lot of other people would too. But the key is to not be bound by the latest Civil Fear War crossover event or utilizing the characters in an Iron Man team up. It’s gotta be a story for the sake of the story. The ideas come from Kirby, the most fertile mind in comic books: a mind that is still being tapped and looked to for guidance and influence years after his death! The concepts are older than that and speak to humankind’s primal desire to find meaning and discover its origins. And they wear costumes! What part of that doesn’t deserve a re-imagining?
And if you’re not game, we bet the folks at the History Channel will be. It’s about time they started featuring an animated series on their network.