Marvel’s Eternals Revealed Celestials Created Mutants in a Surprising Place

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Today, we look at the surprising back-up feature that established that the Celestials were responsible for the X-Gene that led to Marvel’s mutants on Earth.

This is “Foundationed Deep,” a feature where we look at particular odd/strange/interesting instances of retroactively connecting different comic book characters (for instance, Uncanny X-Men #268 retroactively established that Wolverine knew both Captain America and the Black Widow from World War II).

A regular refrain I have been repeating in the last month’s worth of Eternals articles is about the very creation of the Eternals by Jack Kirby, but while I keep repeating it, it really is so important that I need to keep repeating it, as it is central to almost every one of these discussions. And that is the fact that Jack Kirby Eternals comic book series, which launched in early 1976 (soon after Jack Kirby returned to Marvel after briefly leaving to go to DC, where he launched the Fourth World along with a number of other series) was specifically intended to be its own continuity and NOT part of the Marvel Universe. In that series, the Celestials were returning to Earth after millennia earlier visiting the planet, when they altered humanity into three groups, the heroic, god-like Eternals, the evil, demon-like Deviants and, well, you know, humanity.

This page from Eternals #1 (by Kirby and John Verpoorten) was such a brilliantly concise description of the setup of the series that this one page has been more or less “reprinted” in multiple comic book series, as no comic book artist has really found an easier way of explaining this visually…

So now that the Celestials were returning, the Eternals had to reveal themselves. In the opening issue, a famous archaeologist 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. The Deviants wanted to stop the Celestials returning and when that failed, they planned to attack the Celestials when they got here, even if it meant killing all of humanity. The Eternals, naturally, wanted a different result and were willing to fight for it.

It’s important to keep repeating this because it explains just how confusing it has been to integrate the Celestials into the Marvel Universe when their creation were inherently designed to NOT be part of the Marvel Universe!

RELATED: Eternals: How One MCU Hero Almost Doomed the X-Men (and Earth)

While it was Roy Thomas who initially introduced the Eternals into the greater Marvel Universe a couple of years after Jack Kirby stopped working for Marvel again (Thomas revealed that Thor’s memories of the Eternals had been wiped out by the Eternals so that he would not interfere with them and the Celestials), it was Mark Gruenwald, the master of Marvel continuity, who decided to really get into the down and dirty specifics of how the history of the Eternals now intermixed with the history of the Marvel Universe.

Gruenwald, you see, was the editor of Marvel’s alternate history comic book series, What If…? at the start of the 1980s. The book was a bi-monthly series that was extra-sized. Gruenwald was already looking for stories to pad out the comic when it dawned on him to use back-ups in What If…? to detail the back story of the Marvel Universe and in 1980’s What If…? #23, Gruenwald started a string of stories on the Celestials and the Eternals. The main story was about the Hulk becoming a barbarian…

but the back-up story (by Gruenwald, Ron Wilson and Chic Stone) showed the Celestials’ first visit to Earth…

RELATED: The Eternals’ Speedster Was Secretly Two Forgotten Golden Age Superheroes

Once on Earth, we see that the Celestial known as Ziran the Tester created the Deviants on Earth…

Then Nezzar the Calculator created the Eternals…

and finally, Oneg the Prober just left the apes along to evolve into humanity, but he added a special gene…

That gene was always presumed to be the X-Gene, but later stories, like Peter Sanderson and Mark Bagley’s back-up in X-Men Annual #13, confirmed that that gene was the X-Gene…

Interestingly, years later, we learned in the opening arc of Jason Aaron’s Avengers that a Celestial had come to Earth before all of this and died, with his blood sort of merging into the Earth and later forming the early days of humanity (as the apes) and it was his poisoned blood that gave humanity to ability for Oneg to give them that gene that later became mutants…

This back story is precisely why some people were thinking that the recent Eternals movie was going to be used to introduce mutants into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

If anyone else has a suggestion for a Foundationed Deep (retroactive connections between characters), feel free to drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com.

KEEP READING: Eternals: Sersi Secretly Debuted Long Before the Other MCU Gods

from Ultimate Comic Blog
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