From Eternals writer Kieron Gillen and artists Edgar Salazar and the late-great Ryan Bodenheim comes a fascinating trek through cosmic family history in Eternals: The Heretic #1. Featuring colors by Chris O’Halloran and letters from Clayton Cowles, this one-shot sees grand philosophizing and flashback storytelling between the new Prime Eternal, Thanos and his long-lost relative, Uranos. With a fascinating script and great visuals, this is a one-shot absolutely worth picking up for cosmic-Marvel fans.
“Thanos is now ruler of the Eternals! But believe it or not…he’s actually not the worst leader that the Eternals’ society has ever seen. No, that honor belongs to someone even more horrific. Thanos is evil, yes, but who was the original evil from whom all Eternal evils descend? Meet Uranos, the Undying. And may the Celestials have mercy on your souls.”
Writing & Plot
What works so well about Kieron Gillen’s script for Eternals: The Heretic is how grandiose he makes this relatively simple premise feel. Thanos seeks a conversation and possibly some wisdom from the original Eternal gone bad, Uranos. The ancient Titan then regales Thanos (and us readers) with the story of how he split off with the other original Eternals – as well as his philosophy regarding obeying the Celestials. I can’t get into specifics without dipping into spoilers, but trust me when I say that it’s genuinely fascinating and entertaining.
Gillen’s dialogue approach for these characters takes Kirby’s “cosmic Shakespeare” style and modernizes it. Every line carries immense weight thanks to how Gillen writes their conversation. We are watching gods philosophize and debate and it’s so damn entertaining. It may come off as slow to some, but it’s well-paced and interesting enough that I doubt it will come up often. The flashbacks to Uranos’ time as an Eternal and his discussion of how he came to his rather…dark conclusions about life are almost as compelling as the conversation with his young relative. There are also some Hickman-esque text-only pages that inform us about Celestial and Eternal life structure and philosophy. Much like a Hickman book, I find them completely satisfying. This is an era of Marvel’s cosmic history we don’t get to see in modern comics too often, and it’s a compelling treat in this book.
Our journey into the cosmic storytelling withinin Eternals: The Heretic #1 is visually put together by the late Ryan Bodenheim and Edgar Salazar. Their thin lines and deliberate direction create the thoughtful, conversational yet epic tone of this comic. Believe it or not, cosmically powerful beings in the Marvel universe, especially Titans and Eternals, aren’t much for emotional displays. As such, illustrating the faint smirks and frowns we do get from Thanos and Uranos is a hugely important task to get us into their headspace. Bodenheim and Salazar accomplish just that, with effective subtleties drawn into every close-up panel. Body language is important here as well, and is equally difficult to capture since these two characters mainly focus on being imposing. So much of what makes this comic’s fascinating back-and-forth work is watching them communicate. This is thanks to how Bodenheim and Salazar carefully handle this task. The moments we get massive displays of power are handled with intensity, with an obviously Kirby-inspired method of drawing this specific brand of cosmic power.
Chris O’Halloran provides the colors for Bodenheim and Salazar’s art, and here he does a solid job of bringing that art to life. For much of the book we’re in the crystalline cavern prison where Uranos is being kept. As suc, most of the coloring shows up in soft violets and blues that bleed together in a pretty and atmospheric manner. The flashback sequences end up being a suitably jarring change, but O’Halloran crafts these scenes with a tonal consistency. They’re intentionally a tonal shift, but they still look like a proper part of the story. Finally, Clayton Cowles had his work cut out for him with the lettering. Every page is littered with narration boxes and speech bubbles full of conversational dialogue. Cowles uses a simple, modern font that is easy to read and does its job well, carrying the reading experience forward in a clean manner. Visually this is a great looking comic, and an outstanding endnote for the phenomenal talent that was Ryan Bodenheim.
Eternals: The Heretic #1 is a fascinating and immensely compelling one-shot of cosmic Marvel storytelling. Kieron Gillen’s script is loaded with eloquent, grandiose dialogue that carries the weight of the two powerhouse main characters brilliantly well. The visuals from the late great Ryan Bodenheim, Edgar Salazar, and Chris O’Halloran are well-detailed and fantastically directed, crafting a nuanced reading experience that is perfect for the sort of comic we get here. Please be sure to grab this book when it hits shelves on March 16th!