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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Eternals

Reviewed: November 19, 2008
By: story by Neil Gaiman / art by John Romita Jr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
256 pages, $27.50

Back in 1976 comic book great Jack Kirby borrowed some ideas from Erich von Däniken and created a series called The Eternals. Kirby, great as he was on plots, art and cosmic ideas, was ever a lousy writer of dialogue, and this may be part of why the book didn’t really catch on. It lasted just about two years and then was cancelled. It’s been revived a couple of times since and efforts have been made to shoehorn it into the entire Marvel Comics Universe, but Jack didn’t mean it to fit there, and the books haven’t sold well.

Enter Neil Gaiman, whose revival of the Sandman, another Kirby creation from even longer ago, once led to a highly successful 75+ issue run of a book by that name which, unlike most series books, had a beginning, a conclusion, and came to a natural end when Gaiman decided it should.

Gaiman has taken the “Space Gods once walked the Earth and meddled with humanity” theme from Chariots of the Gods to a whole new level, has altered a bit of Kirby’s premise, and has produced a very engaging reboot of this concept.

Aided by the powerful artwork of John Romita Jr., Gaiman tells us the story of Mark Curry, a medical intern whose world comes unglued when a strange man named Ike Harris comes to tell him he is immortal. Curry remembers nothing of this, and Harris’s memories are garbled, for reasons which will become clear over the run of the miniseries. Say the names of these two fellows really fast and you’ll figure out who they are.

It’s a delightful retcon (retroactive continuity adjustment) of a premise that never quite worked in the original series, but might just have a longer run this time.

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