Of the big three “non-human races” of the Marvel Universe, the Eternals have long been playing catch-up. The X-Men are, well, the X-Men. While the Inhumans have a rich and varied history interwoven into the fabric of the larger Marvel Universe dating back to the Silver Age (to say nothing of a failed TV series and that time when Fox still owned the X-Men movie rights so Marvel tried to position them as their new, more cinema-friendly, version of mutants).
The Eternals, while of a similar pedigree (all three share an artistic creator in Jack Kirby), have long existed on the fringes of the Marvel Universe: various artists and writers, often top-notch ones, step-up and present their take on the long-lived demi-gods secretly protecting humanity from the monstrous Deviants in the name of the cosmic Celestials, and when they’re done, the Eternals quietly fade once more into the background of the Marvel Universe.
Eternals: Only Death is Eternal is the latest such creative effort. Collecting the first six issues of a new ongoing Eternals series from writer Kieron Gillen and artist Esad Ribic, the book is clearly being positioned to capitalize on and contribute to the Eternals’ upcoming moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe zeitgeist, with their feature film (after a lengthy pandemic-induced delay) scheduled to premiere just a scant few months after the publication of this volume. In Gillen & Ribic, Marvel has again entrusted top-tier talent to this effort, and Gillen and Ribic, to their credit, reward that trust. Every iteration of the Eternals attempts to put a new spin on the concept in some way, and the inaugural launch of this series is no different.
Gillen and Ribic don’t just put a new spin on things; they do so in a way that contextualizes and synthesizes all of the previous versions, creating a kind of grand unified theory of the Eternals that honors what’s come before in the Eternals history while breaking new ground. Along the way, they also tell a densely-plotted, gorgeously-illustrated, rip-roaring tale filled with moments of fist-pumping excitement and tragic heartbreak alike. The end result is the best possible entry point into the Eternals for a new reader.