Why None of Marvel's Heroes Remember Jack Kirby's Series

Today, we look at what no one remembers the original Jack Kirby Eternals series in the Marvel Universe.

This is "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking," a feature spotlighting notable examples of retcons that don't fit into the framework of Abandoned an' Forsaked, which is specifically about stories that outright "overturn" older stories. There are many examples of "retroactive continuity" that do not actively abandon the works of the past (especially cases where the overall continuity was rebooted). Some of them are minor, some of them are major, all of them are interesting enough to me that I figure that they are worth writing about.

As I've said a number of times in recent weeks when discussing the Eternals, Jack Kirby's original take on the Eternals was more or less predicated on the idea that the stories of the Eternals were set in their own universe, separate from the Marvel 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? That approach really doesn't work in a world where humanity KNOWS that gods walk among us as Thor and Hercules are both longtime members of the Avengers and Loki is trying to attack New York City every other month. So how do you work something like the Eternals into the Marvel Universe?

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The basic set-up of Kirby's first Eternals series was that the Celestials were returning to Earth after millennia earlier visiting the planet, where they altered humanity into three groups, the heroic, god-like Eternals, the evil, demon-like Deviants and, well, you know, humanity. So now that they were returning, the Eternals had to reveal themselves. In the opening two issues, a famous archaeologist, Dr. Damian, and his daughter, Margo, discovered all of this during a dig at a temple in the Andes when their cameraman revealed himself to secretly be the Eternal known as Ikaris and that their dig had discovered a cosmic beacon designed to call the Celestials back to Earth. In the second issue, they meet Ajak, the Eternal who is the liaison between Earth and the Celestials...

The Deviants, however, decided to choose this moment to turn on their creators and try to keep them from returning. Once they proved to be too late, they decided to use their weapons to fight the Celestials, even if the Earth was razed in the middle of all of this. Daniel Damian stayed at the dig with Ajak, but his daughter, Margo, was taken by Ikaris back to New York City and since Ikaris needed to be able to go battle against the Deviants without endangering Margo, he left her with a fellow Eternal who lived in New York City, Sersi.

In Eternals #6 (by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer), Margo revealed the news to a doctor Samuel Holden that she trusted, to see how they would go about telling the rest of humanity...

And finally, right before the finale of the original series, Kirby had the Eternals reveal themselves to humanity in Eternals #16...

Humanity teamed up with the Eternals to face off against the Deviants, but then the series ended and a few years, Roy Thomas decided to work the Eternals into the Marvel Universe.


In Thor Annual #7 (by Roy Thomas, Walter Simonson and Ernie Chan), Thor discovers some lost memories of meeting the Eternals hundreds of years ago, who were shocked to discover that Earth had actual gods like Thor on top of the Eternals who people on Earth had MISTAKEN for gods over the years...

During their initial meeting, one of the Eternals sacrificed himself and we later learn that he was Ikaris' brother...

In the end, the Eternals rob Thor of his memory of their meeting...

Their concern was that Thor would try to fight the Celestials and the Eternals couldn't have THAT and sure enough, when he remembers the Celestials, Thor DOES freak out a bit...

Okay, so now Thor had his memories back and he was all, "Dang, I gotta see what's up with these Celestials" and so he looks into things further and he almost instantly encounters a Celestial on Earth in Thor #283 (by Thomas, John Buscema and Chic Stone)...

This brings Thor to Ajak and Dr. Damian in the next issue and they basically tell Thor the story of the first Eternals series...

We then check in on Ikaris and Margo and they tell us that humanity basically just got bored and forgot about their deal with the Eternals...

That's not really much of an explanation, right? "Oh, yeah, we just got bored about this story and moved on." Also, how would Thor not know about the Eternals FROM that speech either way?

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The answer was revealed in Peter B. Gillis and Sal Buscema's Eternals maxiseries in 1985, where we learn that the Celestials messed with humanity's memories and only Samuel Holden remembers the events of Kirby's original Eternals series...

That makes a WHOLE lot more sense and obviously, over time, the Eternals were slowly reintroduced to the world.

Thanks to my pal, Tom A., for suggesting this one! Okay, folks, feel free to suggest more examples of this sort of thing! Obscure ones, famous ones, whatever! Send your suggestions to [email protected]!

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About The Author
Brian Cronin (15129 Articles Published)

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 and other pop culture features at Pop Culture References. 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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