The splash from Eternals # 1 (July 1976). Kirby /Verpoorten.
Here’s a great email from Kenn Thomas:
Just finished rereading Eternals. What magnificent Kirby. He has a new set of gods; a lost, albeit evil, society a la the Inhumans; genetic manipulation; and these huge, Galactus-like space beings, albeit benign, but with a large measure of Galactus’ indifference toward the aspirations of mankind. I felt as if Kirby could have done so much more with it had the title lasted longer.
But despite my feelings of wanting more, I read the (non-Kirby) text articles in the hardback Eternals collection and wretch. Everything they did to flog that horse, trying to integrate Eternals into the Marvel universe, once again scaling back Kirby’s vision to create just a handful of new superheroes…The worst kind of depressing corporate crank out that makes you wonder who it’s designed to entertain.
Same thing happens after Kirby’s run on Thor and FF. It’s all just Kirby rehash and wannabe junk. I know everything ever produced has its fans, but there’s a whole lot of things I have to read, watch, listen to and do before ever touching that garbology. And I’m a big fan of people whose art is inspired by Kirby. I love it. But that’s not what the post-Kirby runs of these title have. They reflect desperate attempts to mechanically reproduce Kirby’s organic genius.
Thanks for the email Kenn. I didn’t read Eternals as a kid, I never saw an issue on the local 7-11 stands, but I read the series sometime around 2002 and really enjoyed it. Spectacular Kirby art throughout the entire series. It is amazing how Jack being forced to incorporate Marvel continuity into the series at the end of the run does seem to suck the life out of the story. It slams into a brick wall. It symbolized the end of Jack’s stay at that company. It was over. Imagine if Marvel had made some effort to give Jack a nice deal and cut him loose — they’d have probably hundreds of additional intellectual properties they could exploit.
Here are a few more pages from Eternals # 1 when it seemed like this book had tremendous potential to be a cosmic epic Jack could work on for many years to come.
Pages 2 and 3.
Here is a text piece by Jack from this issue:
I don’t know if Jack read Chariots of the Gods (1968), by Erich Von Daniken, cover-to-cover — he may have simply read about the book in the newspaper — but Jack certainly used some of the core concepts in Von Daniken’s book as a springboard for his Eternals mythos.
For me Von Daniken’s work is what I call “creative history.” Were there actual historical ancient astronauts who landed on the earth tens-of-thousands of years ago? Oh, who knows, I doubt it. It’s certainly possible — because anything is possible, and it is a lot of fun to speculate on the mysteries of our past and our future — but I don’t take all of Von Daniken’s speculations literally, instead, I choose to think of them as intriguing possibilities that are unlikely but still thought-provoking and entertaining.
To me, books like Chariots of the Gods spark the imagination, inspiring artists/writers like Jack to create their own fictional universes full of extraterrestrials and alien technologies resulting in stories like the Eternals, Celestials, and Deviants symbolizing the conflicting mysteries of ancient history.
When the Marvel-Disney vs. Kirby lawsuit is finally over, my hope is that Marvel will embrace Jack’s legacy, and consider doing an Eternals film where Jack’s Estate receives some of the profits.