Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Kei Zama
Inkers: Kei Zama & John Livesay
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson
Cover Artist: Esad Ribić
Publisher: Marvel Comics
A couple of years ago, the Avengers discovered the true origins of life on Earth and faced off against the dark “Final Host” of Celestials only to team up with the original Celestials to save Earth. The Eternals? They committed mass suicide after finding out their “true purpose” on the planet. The Eternals have been resurrected and are now aimless, none more so than Ajak who was the chief interpreter of the Celestials. Now Ajak wanders the planet with fellow Eternal Makkari in Eternals: Celestia #1 to find a spark of enlightenment.
Well, there’s a lot to go over in this comic, so let’s start with the positive things first then get into the nitty-gritty negatives. First, the art in this comic is good and honestly the art team on this comic really deliver in making a comic that evokes comic book legend Jack Kirby’s artwork in his original Eternals series. Not only does the art capture the grand scale and imagery of Kirby’s designs and characters, but it also keeps everything colorful and vibrant for the most part even during the brief moments of action.
Another good thing about this comic is the idea of Ajak going on a spiritual journey of enlightenment trying to find or rekindle their purpose. Since Ajak’s purpose was to interpret for the Celestials and is beyond irked when they stop talking to them. There’s a big story there: What do you do when your gods abandon you? Especially when it comes to the Celestials who have largely been depicted as these great and powerful cosmic titans seeding life in the universe with inscrutable motives and alien thoughts.
There have been scattered stories here and there in Marvel comics that try to add some more depth, complexity, and further the intrigue of the Celestials. Some do it better than most, but the idea of Ajak having a crisis of faith and desperately trying to contact the Celestials to get answers is a powerful tale worth exploring in Marvel Comics. And it could be a fun, grand, and compelling adventure. But that’s not what you get here.
So lets get into the negatives and Spoilers.
Let’s start with the obvious; Kieron Gillen gender bent Ajak and Makkari from men to women. And no, there’s no in-universe explanation, they were just women the whole time as far as this comic’s concerned. All I’ll say is that they didn’t need their genders changed, and if Kieron Gillen just wanted two female Eternals for the story, then he could’ve made two new ones. Also, the idea of these two palling around together on a big journey makes little sense given the relatively recent bitter history between them. Like the comic said, Ajak murdered Makkari but the comic trivializes why.
Here’s the context: Neil Gaiman (yes that Neil Gaiman) and John Romita Jr. made an Eternals miniseries in 2006 revolving around Ikaris and Makkari reuniting amnesiac Eternals which continued into a 2008 Eternals series. During that time, a golden Celestial slumbering deep in the Earth – the Dreaming Celestial – was awakened and chose Makkari as its interpreter, and Ajak was furious. So much so that Ajak plotted Makkari’s murder by manipulating another Eternal to do it and succeeded in killing him and nearly preventing his resurrection. By this point, the two should be duking it out to the death after that traumatic experience.
The biggest problem is the comic has no real story or purpose other than to set up Ajak as a possible villain and showing Ajak get beat to a bloody pulp by the Avengers B.C. team. There’s a lot of potential in a soul-searching journey for Ajak and the Eternals trying to find their purposes in life, but it’s wasted here. The journey itself is short and truly uneventful, and there is no real soul-searching or contemplation as both characters simply reaffirm what they already believed from the comic’s beginning.
The only interesting thing is Makkari proposes an ill-advised idea – inspired by the classic Frankenstein novel of all things – to literally build a new Celestial from dead ones as their new god. Now, that sounds like a great “terrible idea”, but the comic doesn’t explore it in length and just offers it as a possible idea. Ajak basically just says it sounds like a good idea and that’s that, no major reaction or anything. Ultimately, the comic lives up to its title “A Pilgrim’s Lack of Progress” since Ajak makes no genuine progress in this pilgrimage other than getting mad at the Avengers for living in a Celestial.
Worst, this comic doesn’t justify why it’s a one-shot and couldn’t just be in the main Eternals series, especially since it’s written by the same writer.
Eternals: Celestia #1 is an underwhelming entry in Kieron Gillen’s Eternals run. The story needlessly gender bends both Ajak and Makkari, pairs them up on a pilgrimage despite their bitter history, and the journey itself is woefully uneventful. There are no major conclusions reached in the characters’ soul-searching, and while one idea is proposed in the story, the comic doesn’t really explore it in detail. The only good thing in this comic is the art provided by Kei Zama and the colors by Matthew Wilson and that’s about it.