This summer's big Marvel event Judgment Day was announced to start making waves in March 9's Eternals #10 (opens in new tab), but it actually started early - in January 18's Eternals #9 (opens in new tab).
Eternals #9 by writer Kieron Gillen with artists Esad Ribić and Guiu Vilanova continues the long-running feud between Thanos and the main group of Eternals. In this issue, Thanos - after already haven taken the mantle of 'Prime Eternal' - is chasing the Eternals leadership all the way to Lemuria - the homeland of the Deviants, the Eternals' long-time rivals.
It's what happens next that turns this from more than just a Thanos vs. Eternals battle to the start of something bigger.
Spoilers ahead for Eternals #9.
Although Thanos has usurped the throne of the Eternals to become 'Prime Eternal,' the main group of Eternals we know as fans haven't fallen in line behind him as ruler. Instead they've rebelled, and after Eternals #8 they've spirited themselves away to the Deviants oceanic kingdom after an uneasy alliance was formed.
But while Thanos doesn't control these Eternals, he does control another group of Eternals - the Oceanic Watch - and uses them to begin a massive attack on Lemuria. What results is destruction which kills or maims a majority of the Lemurian population, and Thanos is doing it all to kill one person - Phastos. Because he needs him.
You see, in Marvel Comics' Eternals lore, when an Eternal dies they are reborn inside a machine to live again. Thanos, as Prime Eternal, has dominion over the machine, and is able to pry information around those dead Eternals as they re-incarnate anew.
So what knowledge does Phastos have? Phastos was able to revive Thanos (that's what started this new Eternals comic book series) despite Thanos being unique among Eternals. Feeling the potential of being able to reincarnated so effortlessly, Thanos wants to know how Phastos did it - but Phastos, realizing the mistake he made, isn't giving it up. But if Thanos can kill Phastos and force him to be reincarnated at the Eternals' machine, he'll be able to get that information - and use to improve himself.
Cutting to the end, Phastos sacrifices himself to Thanos in an attempt to curtail Thanos' bombardment of Lemuria. His plan works, and Thanos quickly spirits himself away once Phastos is murdered.
In the wake of this, the remaining Eternals figure out a new plan. In Phastos' dying breaths, he mentions that he was able to resurrect Thanos due to, he thinks, due to the strain of Deviant DNA in the Mad Titan. But how? What makes the Deviants tick, and why were they created by the Celestials in the first place?
Remember, we know the Eternals were created by the Celestials to be the 'antibodies' against a cosmic plague known as the Horde. But the Deviants' role was never revealed.
Given the Deviants are in the midst of the downfall of their Lemurian civilization thanks to the Eternals, they're not quick to help the Eternals find out what they know about their ancestral history.
So instead, the Eternals must go directly to the source and ask the Celestials themselves.
But there's one problem.
Eternals go looking for the Celestials
The Eternals and the Celestials don't really keep in touch in comic books. And the only means that they have to chat with the Eternals is stored within the body of the deceased Celestial, the Progenitor. And his body has been taken over by the Avengers as their base for the past few years - Avengers Mountain.
This aspect of Avengers Mountain was revealed in the recent Eternals: Celestia (opens in new tab) one-shot, seemingly setting up the upcoming struggle.
So why can't the Avengers and Eternals be friends? Well, the Eternals view the Progenitor's dead body as a religious icon and sacred site, and seeing the Avengers take it over for their own purposes riles them up. The Eternal Ajak said as much back in Eternals: Celestia #1.
"If the gods are angry with us, I now know why," Ajak said. "The blasphemous maggot Avengers burrowing through the corpses of the divine, for a start."
"A million years ago, I made a mistake," she continued. "I let the Avengers live."
Ajak is referring to the Eternals' meeting with the 1,000,000 B.C. Avengers, and this feud lives on - unbeknownst to the Avengers, largely.
Marvel have already teased what's to come, as on Tuesday the publisher revealed in two issues Captain America and the Avengers would be confronting the Eternals over this.
The story continues in March 9's Eternals #10, leading up to the Judgment Day event proper in summer 2022.
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