An X-Men Villain Forced the Eternals Into a Team That’s Too Strange for the MCU – CBR – Comic Book Resources

In a feature looking at short-lived plot points, see how an X-Men villain caused the Eternals to briefly form a new superhero team.
Today, we look at the time that Apocalypse helped cause the creation of an incredibly short-lived Eternals superhero team.
In every installment of “If I Pass This Way Again,” we look at comic book plot points that were rarely (sometimes NEVER!) mentioned again after they were first introduced.
For a little while there about eight or so years ago, Marvel began to give the Inhumans a really hard push. Whether it specifically had to do with a desire to “replace” the X-Men since Marvel did not have access to the X-Men at the time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe while they DID have access to the Inhumans is really not the point, the point is just it clearly WAS happening, that the Inhumans were getting a major push as characters. This was interesting because it was something that so many Marvel readers had gotten used to for many years as the sort of thing that would happen with the X-Titles all of the time, where comics would constantly find ways to tie into the X-Men as a way of getting a character or concept to sell. A number of characters discovered that they were mutants and some, like Namor, had their mutant heritage highlighted after decades of it not really being a “thing.” The late 1990s were still in that era of people tying to tie characters to the X-Men however they could and that gave us the wonderfully bizarre attempt at turning the Eternals into a more traditional superhero team via the famous X-Men villain, Apocalypse.
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As I have discussed a few times recently, Jack Kirby’s take on the Eternals was more or less predicated on the idea that the Eternals were in their own universe. The whole concept was what would happen if humanity discovered that gods walked amongst them, and that so did devils, and that the SUPER GODS were now returning to Earth? It was a popular concept in science fiction at the time, especially after Erich von Däniken published his nominally NON-fiction book, Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past, which was a clear influence on Jack Kirby, as it is about the theory that extraterrestrials visited Earth millennia ago and gave us technology and thus kickstarted the development of the human race. So the Eternals was basically, what if those “gods” (the Celestials) returned?
The idea really didn’t work so much in a world where the Fantastic Four had previously essentially defeated “God” when he showed up in a big purple outfit wanting to eat the planet.
However, Roy Thomas decided to merge the Eternals into Marvel continuity (and had Thomas not done it, someone else would have) and then people pretty much just, well, didn’t do much with the Eternals. They had a few follow-up series and Mark Gruenwald had Makkari of the Eternals become a recurring character in Quasar and, most prominently, Sersi joined the Avengers for five years or so, but that was pretty much it. The Eternals would just pop in here and there and that was it. So that was why they were ripe for a new revamp and that’s just what Karl Bollers and Michael Higgins did with New Eternals: Apocalypse Now #1, with art by Joe Bennett and Scott Hanna.
In a nod to Kirby as the book revamped his characters, the great José Ladrönn did a Kirby-esque cover for the book…
The issue opens with a quick recap of the Eternals basic story (the Celestials coming to Earth millennia ago, splitting the people on Earth into Eternals, Deviants and Latents, also known as Humans) and then we see that someone has caused a confrontation between the Deviant city of Lemuria and the United States government. As you might imagine, learning that there was a whole city filled with demon-like people who just seemingly blew up a U.S. submarine was cause for some frightening reactions, especially as Bollers and Higgins were tying into the then-recent plot point that Magneto had taken control of Genosha and been recognized by the United Nations as a sovereign mutant nation…
So of course, this was all a plot by Apocalypse, designed to fuel a war between humanity and the Deviants so that it could kickstart what would lead to become the Age of Apocalypse…
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Meanwhile, we meet four new Eternals in the issue, Chi Demon, Ceyote, Aurelle and Psykos.
They were all Eternals just living among humanity, but when Ikaris put out the call to help due to Apocalypse’s machinations, all four of them answered Ikaris’ call.
Along with established Eternals like Phastos, Sersi and Thena, plus the Deviant “Reject,” Ransak, the heroes had to stop an Apocalypse-mutated Karkas (a Deviant who had also come to live with the Eternals), who was rampaging in San Francisco…
Ransak was forced to kill his friend, Karkas, but in the end, Ikaris (who has discovered Apocalypse’s involvement in the plot and ceased his ability to mutate more Deviants) and the Eternals staved off the human/Deviant war that Apocalypse was trying to instigate.
They then pretended to be a new superhero team to protect the world from the knowledge that the Eternals were a thing. They called themselves the New Breed and they all took on new superhero identities (despite Sersi, you know, having previously been a longtime member of the Avengers), which was particularly weird for the new characters, since they had JUST DEBUTED and now they were getting superhero names after we just learned their real names (well, Chi Dragon didn’t even seem to give an initial name, really, just her fake human name, Professor Suyin King)…
The idea wasn’t picked up by anyone else and the New Breed was never seen again, and then another Eternals revamp/reboot occurred a few years later by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. and that one was a lot more successful…
This is really just one of the most striking examples of a “failure to launch” in the last 25 years. It’s not that you would have expected a major revamp like this to necessarily hit big, but you’d typically expect it to last longer than an ISSUE before everyone ignored it. Crazy stuff.
I thiiiiiink my pal, Tom A., suggested I write about this a long time ago. If anyone else has a suggestion for a future If I Pass This Way Again, drop me a line at [email protected]
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CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over a dozen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed). He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo. He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed. Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at [email protected]!

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