Most people love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even many of the usually hard-to-please, old-time comic readers who are wary of Hollywood maladapting “their” precious source material. Even those who don’t love it might reap some synergistic benefits, though, as bringing obscure characters to a new audience often prompts Marvel publishing to reprint old, “classic” material, like histories of Taskmaster and Mysterio. The coming of the Eternals has even brought a brand new series featuring Jack Kirby’s space gods, from the all-star creative team of Kieron Gillen and Esad Ribić.
And of course, the requisite reprinting of old stuff, like 1985’s The Dreaming Celestial Saga and Thor and the Eternals: The Celestials Saga, from the late ’70s. None of that is actual Kirby stuff, but it fits well enough into his narrative — unlike, perhaps, the recently republished five-issue mini-series from 2012, Thor: The Deviants Saga.
Stretching the movie connection (and the very definition of the word “saga”) to its absolute limits, Robert Rodi and Stephen Segovia’s story is a globe-trotting tale that features some hyper-obscure characters. The “well-known” Eternals like Ikaris and Sersi were previously taken out, leaving Thor to heed battle with Virako (who’s made a grand total of 11 comics appearances) and Gilgamesh, who has completely changed his appearance and is now literally calling himself “the Forgotten One.”
As you might expect, the heroes are opposed by the Eternals’ … well, eternal enemies, the Deviants. In the grand old tradition, the Deviants are villains mostly because they’re ugly, and that concept is brought up way more than you’d think it would be in a book that’s only nine years old. Even those gross, sea-dwelling monsters are fielding the B-team for this one, as Ghaur (perhaps best known for his role in the original Atlantis Attacks) is usurped by the surprisingly sexy Ereshkigal (who clocks in at 29 appearances, if you’re keeping score).
Ereshkigal confronts Thor in the ruins of Asgard, and steals a MacGuffin that would make the Infinity Gauntlet blush — the “unbinding stone,” brought to the Realm Eternal (see what I did there?) for safekeeping by the bauble’s accidental, interdimensional creator. Ereshkigal thinks it will kickstart Deviant evolution (or something), but doesn’t realize its sole purpose is to unravel an entire universe. Maybe put a warning label on that?
Thor and the Eternal Phastos (a superstar at 37 appearances!) take off in pursuit, and since the stakes are so high, they have to make pit stops at the Savage Land and Phastos’ former house first. Seriously, that second one could have been really touching and powerful if it were expanded more, but in The Deviants Saga it’s a waste of time for someone to be melancholy when there is much, much more on the line. There are many more of these strange lapses in logic.
And Stephen Segovia really hasn’t hit his stride as a penciller, yet. It kind of seems like he’s trying to ape Leinil Francis Yu, and all the characters look like they’re squinting. The colors brought by Andy Troy, John Rauch, and Wil Quintana are rather drab, and fail to accentuate Segovia’s lines.
Thor: The Deviants Saga is probably one movie tie-in too many if you’re looking to go down an Eternals rabbit hole before the film debuts. Probably best left buried under an Asgardian throne room.
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