With their cinematic debut fast approaching, this week’s Eternals Forever #1 offers yet another opportunity for readers to learn more about the Marvel Universe’s next big thing.
Eternals Forever is set in current continuity (i.e. Sprite is depicted as female, a very recent development) but unlike the recent one-shots by Kieron Gillen, it’s not especially connected to the larger story happening in his ongoing title. Writer Ralph Macchio’s approach here is fairly standalone and actually more indebted to the Eternals’ past rather than their present or future, with lots of nods and callbacks to their established history. This is consistent with Macchio’s Marvel work of late; he often handles one-shots that aren’t connected to anything else happening in the universe. So if you’re interested in following a new Eternals story because of the imminent film, this isn’t a bad place to start. But as with basically any Eternals comic, however, prepare to do a lot of reading, because they remain as dense as ever even in streamlined form.
The plot itself is a fairly standard Eternals setup. The Deviants (their sworn enemies) are looking to conquer them once and for all, forcing the Eternals to mount a defense with their heaviest hitters. The Eternal known as Ikaris (portrayed by Richard Madden in the film) serves as the protagonist in this story, which makes sense; he’s often the one relegated to main character status because of his flashy powers. He’s not the most interesting character of the bunch, though, so YMMV on how well that works out here. Ikaris is also the de facto lead of Gillen’s Eternals, so I might have appreciated centering on a different Eternal in this story, but it is what it is. Macchio’s script isn’t especially complex, but that’s perhaps an unfair comparison to the ambitious material Gillen has been covering up to this point.
Ramón F. Bachs at least makes the most of what he’s given, with clean art accented with Rachelle Rosenberg’s bright colors. The two are especially good together in key flashback scenes, which are rendered to look straight out of the Bronze age, with simple linework and flat colors that you could very easily mistake as actually being lifted straight out of old comicbooks. It’s a neat trick I might’ve even liked to see a little more of throughout the issue.