If there is one absolute truth of Kieron Gillen’s run on Eternals, and there are many, it’s that he positively nails the one-shot tales. Thanos Rises was an excellent example of that, and this week Eternals: The Heretic aims to continue to flesh out Thanos’s new Eternals experience. Only this time, as the title suggests in the preview, we’re to meet Thanos’s grandfather. You just know he’ll be even more evil and badass, but what of Thanos’s perspective?
If there was a theme to Eternals: The Heretic it’d be family, which is ironic since most Eternals are made, not born. I say most, but expect a handy data page that helps clarify family structures, dynasties, and other interesting information. These data pages add interesting context to a narrative about Uranos, the Undying, and his relation to Thanos.
This issue is also about how Eternals can have differing opinions on how to achieve their duties. Once again, Gillen is doing interesting work fleshing out the culture of the Eternals while also giving readers tidbits on how those differing opinions played out in the past. Given the new element of Thanos in the narrative, and his undying need to achieve his own goals, the growing drama gets deliciously more complicated here.
That includes Thanos’s helper in the issue, Druig. The Eternals have become all the more interesting and easy to understand under Gillen and with A.X.E.: Judgment Day on the way one can imagine there are elements here that will factor into this summer’s event. Druig is definitely the conniver of the issue, the Gríma Wormtongue to Thanos’s Saruman albeit he’s less pathetic. Although Druig isn’t in a lot of the book the art and writing develop him well.
One element that seems missing is how Uranos gives Thanos details about himself, but not the other way around. It makes a major choice feel a bit underdeveloped, as if we can assume Uranos knows enough about Thanos to make this decision. It doesn’t help Uranos blatantly insults Thanos when he first sees him. It’s a minor quibble, but the choice doesn’t feel entirely earned.
Speaking of art, this issue is drawn by Ryan Bodenheim and Edgar Salazar. Bodenheim tragically passed away last year at the way too early age of 44 and based on the work here the comics community took a huge loss. The book looks great, with excellent detail in every character and good subtlety in Thanos’s facial expressions. The dude is practically made of stone, but you still see a bit of joy, contemplation, or unease in the subtlest of line art.
Colors are by Chris O’Halloran who impresses when it comes to light and also the depth of field. Figures further in the distance have the right hues to bring everything in the foreground into focus. Characters must speak through glass walls throughout the issue and it’s largely O’Halloran who pulls these shots off nicely.
Clayton Cowles continues to bring sure-footed lettering with some special word balloons just for Thanos to make him a little extra-evil. The thing about Cowles is his lettering is not fussy and always clean.
Eternals: The Heretic #1 is not only a good Eternals story, but a good Thanos story. Gillen continues to impress by showing us new layers of the proverbial onion that is decades-old characters. To continue the metaphor, Gillen is an expert at plucking boiling onions from the stew and adding additional flavor for future creators to further explore and invent.
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