Marvel’s The Eternal (2003) by Chuck Austen and Kev Walker is adults-only comics about gods on prehistoric Earth and their subjugation of man, which is ultra-violent, sexually gratuitous and actually really good.
Chuck Austen writes this book to make sense within an allegory of Adam & Eve with allusions to the great slave revolt of the ancient Egyptians.
It’s a brilliant re-imagining of Jack Kirby’s The Eternals (1976), which was a pastiche of Erich von Daniken’s Chariot of the Gods? That intertextuality grounds this book and I think it even stands the test of time.
See, this Adam & Eve story begins from the idea that humanity was created by advanced beings from outer space, in this case, god-like beings that are human in appearance called Eternals.
These Eternals experiment on life around the universe under the auspices of their masters, The Celestials, which are space gods working in ways only privy to those of seven dimensions or higher.
From there a domestic drama unfolds around Ikaeden, the Eternals leader, and Jeska, the first human woman (evolved from an ape not a male rib) that explores the notion of ‘being content with what you have’ (as per Hebrews 13:5) by delving into themes of lust, love, domestic violence, rape, slavery, sex out of wedlock, all caused by the curse of knowledge, The Apple.
There’s some great plotting and storytelling here. But the story suffers from wordy dialogue that slows down the fourth act. But it pays off.
Austen claims that knowledge enlightens and brings love and happiness, but he also warns that it destroys too: lusts and from that violence. By the time it gets to issue 4, Austen brings the curse of knowledge subplot to a turning point that not only moves the story forward by bringing it back down to the character level, but with undertones suggesting not to take scripture as law.
See, The Apple’s third dose of knowledge leaves them ‘spiritually detached and superstitious’ as Ikaeden puts it. So, without ruining it, through the characters actions it shows a progressive attitude on living life. By the end, it climaxes similarly to Adam & Eve, a tragedy of psychic enlightenment.
It’s a shame this was cancelled at six issues. I’m betting the second half would have dealt with the protagonist of Kirby’s series, Ikaris, the son of Ikaeden, whose story might have been told through the allegory of Adam & Eve’s children, Cain, Abel and Seth. That would have been cool.
This is a hidden gem. Don’t get me wrong and don’t listen to the hate about it online. It’s bloody and sexually violent but so is Game of Thrones.
Also, Kev Walker’s art is awesome!
Check it out.