Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Eternals by Neil Gaiman and John Romita, Jr.

Mark Curry is a overworked Medical Resident working in a New York City Hospital. But lately. he's been having some very weird dreams. So when he's approached by a golden-eyed man named Ike Harris, who tells Mark that he is actually immortal, with powers beyond his imagining, Mark treats such a statement with the seriousness it deserves- he treats Ike as if he is crazy and goes on with his life.

Only to have Harris track him down at his apartment, and once again try to convince him that he's some kind of immortal. Once again, Mark isn't interested, and he tells Harris to leave him alone. Meanwhile, not far away, a party girl named Sersi shows up at her friend Abigail's apartment. Sersi needs to borrow $900 from Abi for her rent, but she actually has a job now. She's set herself up as a producer of parties. Her first job- to throw a party for the leader of the Vorozheikhan Embassy, a man named Draig, for which she will be paid $20,000.

Ike, meanwhile, is being followed by two very strange-looking men. He tries to jump from the building to elude them, only to land in the metal mesh that is supposed to save jumpers. But none of that matters when one of the men throws a bomb, and it explodes. Somehow managing to survive, he's taken to the same hospital that Mark Curry works at. Mark is amazed at his survival, and he is also intrigued, promising to speak to him. But when the two men who were chasing Ike Harris earlier show up, they convince Mark that Ike is a dangerous lunatic and that they should take him into custody for the insane asylum they work for. He agrees, drugs Ike, and lets the two men take him away. But he soon finds out that nobody else seems to know about the two men or the facility he seems to work for, and he's suspended from the hospital for injecting ike with a sedative and allowing the two men to kidnap a patient.

In the meantime, he's met Sersi, and both of them have connected over coffee. She invites him to her party in the Vorozheikan Embassy, and he, having suddenly nothing to do with his time, agrees. He's also started hearing Ike's voice in his head, begging and pleading for help, and he isn't sure if he's hallucinating. He's also having strange episodes where his eyes glow white, but he doesn't seem to notice them, and he's coming to the realization that maybe Ike Harris isn't so crazy- because those strange dreams he's been having fit right in with what Ike has been telling him- about Deviants and Space Gods and Eternals.

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, a scientist named Thena has been helping Tony Stark and his company develop a weapon to neutralize people without hurting them. It's a strobe that temporarily blinds people- basically instructing the brain to ignore the input from people's eyes. Tony is very impressed. His own team have been working on it for 2 years without success, and Thena, on loan from the Army, has solved the problem in a mere two weeks. Needless to say, he also finds the beautiful Thena very attractive. But she is more interested in her son.

She is also in the party at the vorozheikan Embassy. But unbeknownst to anyone at the party save Draig and a very few of his people, the party is a trap. Draig has staged a "terrorist" attack on the party, which will allow him to take over Vorozheika. Unfortunately, everyone at the party but a very few will have to die to make that dream a reality. And while all this is happening, the two men are trying their best to kill Ike Harris permanently, but nothing they try works, until they annihilate him with Nuclear Radiation- and even then, his body reconstitutes deep underground, in place called Olympus. Ike Harris is really the Eternal called Ikaris, and there is a crisis brewing: someone is trying to awaken the sleeping Celestial- and the Eternals must find out who took away their memories and consigned them to a half-existence. But as the Deviants gear up for war, and a small boy named Sprite gloats in his victory, the Eternals are drawn into the fight to keep the Celestial from awakening... even if it may already be too late.

I saw this graphic novel, and I saw the name "Neil Gaiman", and I had to pick it up, even though i had never read about the Eternals before. And this Graphic novel, which is very thick, is the perfect way to be introduced to the characters, even if you have never met them before. At the start of the story. the Eternals have forgotten who they are, although some of them do seem to retain some memories.

I am sure that if you have ever read the original Eternals series, this book will be much, much deeper that the rather simple reading I got from being completely unaware of the characters. But I could definitely see that this was a revamp of the characters, and at the same time, I think living as "Ephemerals" would change their personalities, giving them more of an appreciation for normal-lived humans. Sersi certainly seemed to be good friends with Abigail, but Ikaris told Abigail to forget all about them, including Sersi, one would assume.

I liked this graphic novel, and I liked the direction that Gaiman took the Eternals in by the end of the story. i also liked the story threads that he wove into the issues- that Makkari might be the downfall of the Eternals- that there are 90 Eternals who no longer remember who they are, and that the sleeping Celestial is watching humanity, waiting to judge us. This is also set in the midst of the whole "Hero Registration" storyline, and I liked how the leader of the Eternals put the whole "Registration" thing in the Perspective of the Eternals to the Ephemerals- to the Eternals, Registration is like a bunch of children squabbling on the playground. Why should they care?

I don't know if or when there will be more graphic novels about the Eternals published, but this wasn't bad. It gave me an appreciation of the characters. I wish there would be more on the Eternals, because now I'd be interested in taking a look.

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