The Comic Speculator: The Eternals

Cover of Eternals #16
Cover of Eternals #15
Cover of Eternals #14
Cover of Eternals #13
Cover of Eternals #12
Cover of Eternals #2
Cover of Eternals #1

This Wednesday Marvel revived the Eternals for yet another ”mini-series” in an attempt to once again reintroduce them to a new generation of readers or perhaps just to make some sense of who they are. Which is the subject of this week’s Comic Speculator: Who are the ”Eternals”?

The last time we saw the Eternals was the ”2006” mini-series written by ”Neil Gaiman” and Penciled by ”John Romita Jr”. The series did little too explain the origins of the Eternals and due to massive over-ordering has been relatively easy to find for cover price in most back issue bins. Even the 1/25 Romita Jr variant covers are hard to move for more than $5.00 each. In fact, to find an Eternals book that guides for more than $10.00 you need to go back to 1976 when ”Jack “the King” Kirby” introduced us to the Marvel Universe’s 1st heroes.

After seeing the last of his ”Fourth World” titles canceled at DC, Kirby brought his cosmically charged ideas back to Marvel, where he began his carrier in Superhero comics. The Eternals, like his ”New Gods”, was a psychedelic-cosmically charged romp to the birth of man. Millions of years ago the ”Clestials”, a mysterious group of godlike beings, visited earth and evolved early mankind into two races, the Eternals and the ”Deviants”. I’ll let you guess which one was evil.

Kirby’s writing on Eternals can be a bit much for the casual reader and the series has been called a rehash of his New Gods work but it was his amazing artwork that makes these comics worth picking up. By 1976 Kirby had been drawing superhero comics for more than 35 years and his Eternals work perfectly illustrates his mastery of the comic medium. Kirby’s splash pages seem to leap from the page regardless of borders crackling with cosmic energy. The Eternals was some of Kirby’s most ambitious work and, also like his New Gods, would be misunderstood, under-appreciated and ultimately canceled before he could finish his epic storyline.

The Eternals and Kirby’s other comics of the late 1970’s are not as sought after as his early works but are starting to see higher prices in the back issue market. Eternals #1, Marvel Comics, 1976, currently guides for $24.00 in Near Mint. Overstreet also lists a variant of Eternals #1 that had a .30-cent cover price that guides for $36.00 in Near Mint.
Several of the Eternals and other Marvel comics that were being published in the 1970’s had price variants that were .5-cents more than the regular cover price. These price variants were part of the initial print-runs and are much harder to find due to low distribution. As far as the reason for the price variations on the Eternals and other Marvel comics of the late 1970’s, there are theories that Marvel was experimenting with higher prices to see if readers would pay more for their issues. I haven’t seen definitive proof of these price experiments theory but it is noteworthy that shortly after they emerged and sold out Marvel raised the cover prices of their comics. The Eternals price variants are becoming harder and harder to find and are going to continue to guide higher than their regular priced counterparts :
Eternals #2, .25-cent cover price, $12.00 in Near Mint (first appearance of the Celestials.

Eternals #2, .30-cent cover price, $18.00 in Near Mint
Eternals 12-16, .30-cent cover price, $10.00 in Near Mint
Eternals #12-16, .35-cent cover price, $15.00 in Near Mint

If you don’t have the cash to track down the original Eternals issues Marvel has just released ”Jack Kirby’s Eternals: Book 1”, which collects Eternals #1-11 . There is also an amazing hardcover ”Eternals by Jack Kirby Omnibus” that collects the entire 19-issue run that is still readily available.