BY MATT TUCK
What’s the deal with the [SPOILER] cameo in Eternals? The answer will have you rushing to buy these key issues.
SPOILER ALERT. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ETERNALS, I RECOMMEND YOU WATCH THAT BEFORE READING TODAY’S POST. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
A BRIEF REVIEW
Despite the mixed reviews for Chloe Zhao’s foray into the world of superheroes, there’s a lot to love about Eternals. The story itself is a commentary on humanity’s timeless fascination with the world of fantasy and god-like beings. It is becoming cliche for filmmakers to look down their noses at superheroes and comics in general, viewing the subject matter as silly and trite. Certainly those same creators don’t mind the hefty paychecks, but oftentimes their end products are clear messages that superhero cinema is a joke, such as WandaVision.
What I most appreciated about Zhao’s take on Eternals was that she took the subject matter more seriously. Of course, every MCU entry is a Disney movie, which means their patented action-comedy formula is firmly in place. Like 90% of Marvel movies under the House of Mouse roof, the jokes were hit-or-miss and much of the comedy felt forced. It leads me to wonder if the comedy was added in a later draft to appease the test audiences. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed Kumail Nanjiani’s Kingo, who essentially provided the bulk of the comedic relief.
At its heart, Zhao’s Eternals was more character driven than many of the recent MCU movies. There was plenty of CGI action and ties to the greater universe, but the film embraced the world’s unending love of superheroes by tying them to ancient world mythology, and that is perfectly in line with Jack Kirby’s original concept. The only complaint I had was that the exposition felt rushed. There were so many characters, and Zhao seemed intent on giving them all their own story arcs, which generally makes for a more involved story. The problem was there was not enough time to fully develop each subplot, and Eternals may have been better suited for a Disney+ series.
In the end, this was an entertaining and thought-provoking addition to the MCU.
“SURE YOU’RE READY FOR THAT, MR. WHITMAN?”
Sure, Harry Styles’ fans are thrilled that he has joined Marvel. When he stepped on screen in his full Starfox/Eros costume, the singer-turned-actor’s followers were ecstatic. Of course, that surprise was spoiled weeks ago when Variety ruined the moment by Tweeting the big reveal after an early screening. Then again, Eros has never been an important character in the comics, so hardcore comic fans were unlikely to be enthused by the mid-credits scene anyway.
While Variety’s spoiler may seem like it killed the moment, Marvel had a much more important secret up its sleeve. Mainstream audiences may have been excited for Styles’ turn as Eros, but comic fans were much more interested in the second bonus scene. As Dane Whitman reached for the Ebony Blade, feeling the magical power within the sword, an off-screen voice gave him a warning.
Who was the mystery guest? Zhao confirmed it was none other than Blade himself, Mahershala Ali. That raises an important question: what does Blade have to do with the Black Knight and the Ebony Blade? The answer is MI:13.
Although it is mostly overlooked by the comic community, Blade and the Black Knight were members of MI:13, but what is it?
If you have seen any of the recent James Bond movies, you will have heard of the British version of the CIA, MI:6. Like Bond’s spy squad, MI:13 is a London-based covert team of superheroes who monitor supernatural threats. Think of them as a spin on Hellboy’s Bureau for Paranormal Defense. By pairing Black Knight with Blade, Marvel Studios appears to be bringing the team to the forefront of the MCU, and that will ignite fires under these key issues.
This is a sleeper pick if there ever was one. Back in 1996, Excalibur #101 featured the origins of MI:13. At the time, it was known simply as The Department. While there is no official team in this issue, it is the first mention of Great Britain’s supernatural watch dogs, and that will make it worth owning as the pieces fall into place. The best part is this issue has been overlooked for so long that you can own a 9.8 for around $5 for a raw copy.
NEW EXCALIBUR #1
Ten years after The Department was introduced to Marvel Comics, Chris Claremont renamed the division MI:13. While the team has never been overly famous, that name would be the more recognized moniker, and it is likely what they will be called in the MCU.
These issues are on the move. Since yesterday, the sales volume has been increasing, and the fair market values are along for the ride. Prices have jumped from $5 last weekend to close to $10 more recently. There are no graded copies on record, but that will change in the near future as word spreads about MI:13.
Pete Wisdom could soon become an important piece to the supernatural puzzle. He fits the mold of the MCU’s top recruiters, Nick Fury and the Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. In the comics, Wisdom becomes the leader of MI:13, and that is likely what will transpire on either the big or small screen.
Wisdom’s history lends perfectly to what appears to be unfolding in the MCU. Besides being the head of The Department/MI:13, he was involved in Secret Invasion, and he also helped thwart Dracula who led an army of vampires in an attack on Great Britain. Considering Marvel Studios has a Secret Invasion Disney+ series on the horizon and the consistent rumors that Dracula will appear during the MCU’s vampire invasion, it adds up to Wisdom leading MI:13 to combat these scenarios.
Like the other MI:13 comics on the list, this is another sleeper pick. Since there is a first appearance in Excalibur #86, it warrants at least some graded copies. As it stands, the last graded 9.8 to sell online was in 2018 when one brought $67. If Wisdom arrives in the MCU, look for this issue to inflate overnight.
CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI:13 #8
Thanks to the Blade cameo in Eternals, several issues of 2008’s Captain Britain and MI:13 have suddenly become popular. While #1 and #4 are climbing the ranks, it’s issue #8 that is standing above the rest.
What’s special about this one? This is the first meeting between Dane Whitman and Blade. Black Knight previously joined the team in Captain Britain and MI:13 #4, and Blade followed suit in the next installment, but the two did not share a panel until issue #8. Since the two are connected by the Eternals’ post-credits scene, is it creating buzz for this issue specifically for that one particular panel.
Again, this is a hidden gem. As such, the prices are dirt cheap at the moment. As of early this morning, raw copies were selling anywhere from a little over $1 to $5. For that low price, it is hard to say no to this comic.
THE BRITISH INVASION
Creating MI:13 in the MCU creates opportunities for Marvel Studios to connect the world of capes and spandex to the supernatural threats on the horizon. Vampires, werewolves, and zombies are coming, and MI:13 will help them fit into the overall MCU alongside even the cosmic side of the shared universe. It also opens doors for other long-rumored characters, but that is a post for another day.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.