If you hadn’t heard of the Eternals when Marvel announced their upcoming movie, then you aren’t alone. Korath is more familiar with Star-Lord than most comic book fans are with the Eternals.
In fact, the Eternals have few memorable appearances in the comics. Sure, one is the Jack Kirby original from the 70s, but it has very little to offer a modern audience. Still, we’ve outlined the details there and that summary is worth a read, as the movie will undoubtedly capture those broad stories.
The typically stellar Neil Gaiman wrote a 2008 mini-series that attempted to look at the Eternals as every day people but it was lifeless, joyless, and completely lacking of an ending, so I can’t recommend that one either.
The Kirby original lacked any character work and the Gaiman reboot was all character. Is there an action-packed Eternals storyline that also let’s readers get to know the characters? Nope. But Avengers: The Gatherers Saga comes close, so let’s a take a look.
Avengers: The Gatherers Saga
The Gatherers Saga is a skull-busting 18-parter that appeared in the Avengers title in the early 1990s. The Avengers lineup was funky during that era, consisting of an emotionless Vision, Hercules, Black Widow operating as little more than a support character, Chrystal of the Inhumans, Black Knight, Sersi of the Eternals, a supporting Captain America, who was on again and off again due to him sanctimoniously leaving the team, and an identity swapped Thor going by the name of Thunderstrike.
So, a weird Avengers team but that doesn’t mean the action slowed down or the drama wasn’t running high. The Gatherers Saga begins with an unidentified team bamfing in from another dimension to “gather” particular individuals.
The story unfolds slowly but as it escalates, we learn that other dimensions are winking out and this alternate-dimension team is ‘gathering” their counterparts in order to preserve themselves. The operation is orchestrated by a mysterious figure known as Proctor.
Meanwhile, Avengers mansion is full of drama. Crystal is separated from her husband Quicksilver and is developing feelings for Black Knight. Sersi is an endless flirt and has her eyes on Black Knight herself.
As Proctor’s plot begins to focus more and more on Sersi, the other Eternals appear to warn the Avengers that Sersi seems to be suffering from the w’yry, a condition where the incredibly long lifespan of the Eternals eventually cause them to go mad. Sersi, upon hearing this, chooses Black Knight as her Gann Josin, irrevocably bonding herself with him.
Well, Sersi indeed does appear mad and the Avengers wonder if she can be trusted. Worse, the Gatherers capture Vision and use him as a mole. I won’t spoil the ending for you.
What Might We See of The Gatherers Saga?
So, what might the Gatherers Saga tell us about the upcoming Eternals movie?
First, Eternals is unlikely to use the primary storyline of The Gatherers Saga. I wouldn’t bet on this one way or the other but I’m not certain the Eternals movie will lean into multi-dimensional hijinxs right after Avengers: Endgame.
Then again, they just might. It’s a very cinematic storyline that could be told in a single 2-hour sitting. There would be no time for an origin story, meaning Kevin Feige and company would have to jump right into it, choosing to focus on Sersi.
Yet again, they likely won’t. Judging from the casting of the movie, the Eternals are being introduced to the MCU as a group. Rather than a Sersi-centric story, it appears we’re getting a story that focuses on the whole group’s dynamics.
Second, it’s likely the love story is pulled from Avengers: The Gatherers Saga. The casting of Black Knight highly suggests that the love triangle that included he and Sersi is being used somehow in the movie.
Will the 3rd wheel be Crystal from the Inhumans? Doubtful. Isabelle Cornish is lovely and I’m sure a better actress than the scripts on ABC’s Inhumans allowed her to be, but that short-lived TV show was a terrigen-MISS. It’s highly doubtful they’ll try to re-introduce that trainwreck into the MCU so soon, when it’s just as easy to allow another Eternal to be used in the storyline with Black Knight.
A sub-plot involves the Kree. The Gatherers Saga provides a nice tie-in to Captain Marvel because the Kree are involved. The comic event just prior had Black Knight kill the Supreme Intelligence. As a result, the Kree in cahoots with the Starjammers send a kill team to exact revenge.
Finally, I’m back on the ‘they just might’ bandwagon again. After re-reading The Gatherers Saga, I’ll actually be disappointed if the Eternals movie doesn’t borrow elements of it for the film.
It’s cinematic in nature. Sure, many characters would need to be substituted but if the main throughline of the plot would be focused wholly on the Eternals rather than the Avengers, then we’d be on to something that just might work.
Besides, the twist reveal at the end is pretty great and it’s a compelling journey to get there. But we’ll just have to wait until we see Eternals in the theaters to really know how much this comic book storyline will influence it.
Speaking of the comic, it’s tough to rustle up, but Marvel has been giving it more attention of late. First, they reprinted the first issue of the saga (Avengers #343) as part of their $1 True Believers initiative.
They also included The Gatherers Saga in their Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Box Set Slipcase. < Click through and give that rascal a look. The list price is $500 and it’s billed as a collection of the best Avengers stories ever told. It has the Kree-Skrull War, Korvac, Disassembled and much more.
If you are looking for individual issues, you’ll need to collect Avengers #343-344, #348-349, #355-363, #372-374, and material from #364 and #375. All together those issues tell a really cohesive story and the fact that’s it’s allowed to breathe is a real benefit.
Artist Steve Epting was killing it during this period. Most of the sub-plots are also great stories, except ironically for a Deviant-focused two-parter in Avengers #370-371 that’s so bad it’s unreadable. Alas, the end of the run was getting into 90s-inspired foil covers but you’ll be fully hooked into the story by then.
Here’s an exact list if you want to track The Gatherers Saga down. I binged it via Marvel Unlimited and was glad I did. In fact, I’m hoping I see it played out in theaters in 2020.