I couldn’t get thru this thing. The Eternals is a snooze. It is to boredom what a head-on auto collision is to fear and pain: a cataclysm that can be outlived but never analyzed. So don’t ask me why this comic is so bad; just chip in to my hospital fund.

John Romita Jr.’s stuff is fine; he’s not the problem here. Neil Gaiman is, and he baffles me. A few years ago I did a piece about him for The Comics Journal, one that featured a lush aria detailing all the ways a Gaiman script can run aground. As far as I can tell, none of those ways are present here. The Eternals features straightahead, streamlined storytelling with the occasional imaginative touch that … Christ, it’s still boring.

Years ago I worked for a bright, energetic fellow who screwed up everything he touched. He had incompetence in its purest form; no other factors assisted him in his production of disaster. Gaiman has a similar isolated gift for producing boredom. He didn’t use to: about 40% of his Sandman run counts as the most entertaining bunch of comics I’ve read. Then the rot crept it and then it spread and then I had finished The Kindly Ones and never got around to The Wake.

Some people you just can’t appreciate, but I sure used to appreciate him and it’s not like his new stuff is so different from what came before. In fact it’s too much the same old but with the removal of key elements that I’m pretty sure include fresh dialogue, unexpected ideas, and interesting balloon-caption-picture interplay. So maybe there’s the problem. But why did those elements go missing? He isn’t even 50 yet; Wodehouse kept churning out his formula for half a century and it stayed fresh.

An additional mystery: I have never met anyone who said they liked Gaiman’s post-’93 comics, but figures indicate that people buy the stuff in great quantities. 1602 was top seller for its year, I believe, and won some sort of award.

His books aren’t so bad, those that I’ve read. They rehash his old ideas, but I can get thru them. Coraline underwhelmed me, but American Gods was all right; a friend found the reverse. Whatever. They’re still a long way down the slope from the Sandman issues that I liked. Maybe I’m just older; then again I really liked “A Study in Emerald,” so I think I can still respond to what he’s got when he bothers to bring it along. He just doesn’t bother, and why not?

Anyway, I took The Eternals out from the library, so no money was lost. That fucking thing … I couldn’t get thru it.

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