BHOC: ETERNALS #11

This issue of ETERNALS came out of the same 3-Bag as yesterday’s FANTASTIC FOUR, I believe. As I’ve related earlier, my prior encounters with the series didn’t make me a fan–Jack Kirby’s work in the 1970s was an acquired taste, and one I hadn’t quite acquired yet. There was always something fascinating and powerful about what he was doing, but the manner in which it was told, and the particular cadence of the language that was being used, was a barrier to entry, at least for me. This cover features Nezzar, the happiest Celestial, a design that is at once awesome and ridiculous in that quintessential Kirby way.

The one thing about this issue was that it was big. Kirby devoted more pages in it to splashes and double-splashes than was the norm, giving events a terrific sense of scale, for all that I was a bit uninvolved and at a remove from it. There was also something about Mike Royer’s title lettering that was strange and appealing–this wasn’t the regular Marvel style, it was something else, something adjacent.

The issue opens with Zuras calling all of the Eternals to gather in their city of Olympia, so that they can perform the ritual of the Uni-Mind and decide what their course of action should be concerning the return of the Celestials and their fifty-year judgment of the Earth. This page, by the way, represents the sum total of the appearance of Kingo Suneh in Kirby’s original stories–he’ll apparently be a more major character in the upcoming film, portrayed by Kumail Nanjiani. At the center of all of this activity are our theoretical focal characters Ikaris, Makkari and their human friend Margo Damian. Sersi also shows up, with her own human, Professor Holden, in tow.

Meanwhile, in Russia, the top military minds are in a tizzy at the discovery that Nezzar of the Celestial Fourth Host is hanging around in Siberia, on Russian territory. Respected General Vulcanin counsels that they move in measured fashion, and do not attempt to use force to dislodge their clearly more advanced visitor, but his fellow General Greshkov considers this cowardice, and advocates a first strike, to show the Celestials clearly that the Earth is not theirs for the taking. Sadly, the first Secretary sides with Greshkov.

Departing the meeting, General Vulkanin and his aides depart in a helicopter, shedding their disguises and resuming their true identities as four of the Eternals: Valkin, Druig, Aginar and Zarin. Having failed to stem the human instinct for aggression towards the Celestials, the four Eternals head for Olympia to take part in the Uni-Mind ceremony, concerned about what may happen.

Arriving in Olympia via teleportation, the four Eternals almost collide with the Delphan brothers in the skies, and a skirmish breaks out between the two bands of Eternals. It’s more horseplay than a serious battle, but the commotion draws Ikaris to the site, and he joins in as well. Ultimately, however, Valkin brings the scuffle to an end with a small show of his own power. It’s a pretty perfunctory action sequence, but one that does allow us to get a bit of a sense of Druig, Aginar and Zarin.

Back in Russia, General Greshkov has given the order to nuke Nezzar. There’s a brief countdown, and the missile is fired. But as it approaches the Space-God, it diverts its course, reversing back towards the point at which it was fired at Nezzar’s command. The missile closes in on the bunker from which it had been launched–but this all turns out to be an illusion created by Nezzar in the minds of the humans at the moment the decision to launch their weapon had been made. The missile is still in its silo–but that doesn’t really matter for everybody in the bunker, as they’ve all suffered cardiac arrest from their fear at the missile’s approach. And that’s where the issue wraps up. Kirby was telling one big, broad, epic story here, but I found the individual pieces such as this one to be unsatisfying on their own. ETERNALS reads a lot better all in one sitting, where the ebb and flow of the storyline is easier to follow.

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