El Eternauta ("The Eternaut") is the most famous Argentinian Comic, (alongside Mafalda, of course. And maybe Cybersix, assuming people remember it was an Argentinian comic book). It was first published in a weekly basis from 1957 to 1959 in the Hora Cero magazine, scripted by Héctor Germán Oesteheld and featuring art by Francisco Solano López.
The story is set about a decade into the future where a deadly snowfall suddenly strikes. The protagonist - who along with his family and a few friends was sheltered safely at home - must then try to survive in the new desolate and hostile environment: finding rations to live, avoiding all contact with this fluorescent snow that kills everything it comes in contact with, and, most importantly, battling fear, desperation and the potential threat of fellow human survivors. As the story progresses, the real cause of the snowfall is revealed and the protagonist is quickly drafted into a makeshift resistance army.
There is a sequel, made in 1976-77, which is a bit Darker and Edgier, and mostly regarded quite a good comic but not as brilliant as the original. There was later a third installment, known for lack of endorsement by the original authors, with Oesterheld being already dead and hired writers and artists who remained anonymous at the time. Starting in The '90s, a lot of other sequels and homages, both official and unofficial, were released, cementing it as an important part of Argentine pop culture. Solano López eventually created the Universo Eternauta brand ("Eternaut Universe") in order to publish both new and old (with bonus material) stories.
Plans for making The Movie have been tossed around for decades. It was announced on 2020 that a television series was being produced by Netflix and directed by renowned filmmaker Bruno Stagnaro. The series will adapt the story to our contemporary setting instead of 1950s Buenos Aires, and is currently set to be released by Netflix on 2022.
There are translations to English, French and Italian, Italy being a country where El Eternauta hit it bigtime and a major reason for the sequel being made. Besides Argentina, the last original edition is available in Spain too.
List of publications:
- El Eternauta, First Part: (1957) By Oesterheld and Solano López. The original that started it all, made purely of awesome. Regularly reprinted, with 2007's 50th Anniversary edition being a standout.
- El Eternauta, Remake: (1969) By Oesterheld and Breccia. This included several drastic changes to the storyline, which coupled with Breccia's weird and experimentalist approach arose an uproar from the fans. Consequently, it got rushed up. It's not merely that the alien invaders are depicted as The Empire, a certain somebody even helps them and all!
- El Eternauta: Segunda Parte: (1976) By Oesterheld and Solano López. A direct, Darker and Edgier sequel. Drops most of the six hundred and seventeen different themes present in the first part in favor of a more direct and arguably leftist message. Generally considered at least a worthy sequel. Last work by Oesterheld before his forced disappearance.
- El Eternauta, Third Part: (1983) By Ongaro, Morhain and Oswal. A controversial, radically different sci-fi comic, reusing the characters in some uninspired setting. It was not aproved by the surviving author at the time.
- El Eternauta, The Repentant World: (1997) By Maiztegui and Solano López. Featuring talking cows.
- El Eternauta, The Cosmic Hatred: (1998) By Muñoz, Barreiro, Taborda and Rearte.
- El Eternauta, Returns: (2003) By Maiztegui and Solano López.
- El Eternauta, The Calling Dog and Other Stories: (2010) By Kern, Solano López and others.
WARNING: Roaring Rampage of Spoilers ahoy!
- Alien Invasion: An All-Out Attack.
- Aliens in Cardiff: Even in Argentina itself, when first published. Most comic books available were translations of comics from the US, and even the Argentine comics were used to set things in the US, just because that was what readers were used to read. Since then, Argentine comics set in Buenos Aires became common.
- And I Must Scream: After watching it happen to a friend, the protagonist, who's fully paralyzed, gets an antenna shoved into the back of his head, knowing in advance it will make him a slave forced to kill, betray or worse his fellow human survivors. Thought bubbles: No! NOOOO!!!
- Appeal to Force: Nuclear strategic missiles from some superpower from the North fall over Buenos Aires. They are defused in mid-air by the aliens, but when the protagonists blow the artificial habitat of "Them" with a bazooka, it is bad news that one last missile was still on the way, nuking Buenos Aires. For good.
- Apocalypse How: A green phosphorescent snowfall which, by unknown means, wipes virtually any kind of lifeform it comes into contact with, including bacteria. The few who survive, have less subtle methods awaiting. Class 4, maybe worse.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Most of the alien technology is so advanced that even the scientist of the group, Favalli, doesn't have a clue on how it works.
- Armor Is Useless: static defensive tactics never end well in this universe, and Tank Goodness is a consistently averted trope due to giant indestructible mind-controlled monsters with an appetite for tanks and extremely advanced BFG tech. If you are La Résistance, you better keep it light and swift.
- Badass Normal: Most of the main characters are just common middle-class Buenos Aires citizens. However, when the shit hits the fan they discover they were much more resourceful that they thought, and actually pretty badass, particularly Franco. It also must be noticed that the militiamen fight without order but, with some exceptions, they are consistently brave and loyal.
- Big Blackout: The first consequence of the snow, besides the deaths, was a general blackout. Even phones were caught by it.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Body Horror: Having an antenna's dozens of spikes forced into the back of your head... while all you can do is scream inside your mind because you are fully paralyzed. See Ridiculously Human Robots.
- Captain Obvious: The very first thing Juan Salvo says when he appears at Oesterheld's house, before explaining his origin or his odd way to appear out of thin air, is "I'm on Earth, it seems...". Poor Oesterheld was not sure what to answer to that.
- Cavalry Betrayal: the "Safe zones" announced by radio are just a scam of the invaders, to capture the last remaining survivors.
- Clue from Ed.: In the first pages the characters are casually playing Truco. It is a popular card game in Argentina but not so elsewhere, so the translation to English had to add a brief explanation of the rules below.
- Cosmic Horror Story: Independence Day-style Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion this ain't.
- Cozy Catastrophe: Uh-uh. Forget it.
- Desolation Shot: When your city is a frozen fluorescent graveyard, it goes without saying that every single shot count as one.
- Despair Event Horizon: Salvo and his friends are pushed against it, over and over again. Most of the times, they manage to stay in the good side.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: The aliens silenced all radios worldwide. They don't use them for their own means: there's nothing but static. The idea was simply to difficult large-scale resistance. By the end of the story, after their defeat and escape, the radio works was again It's a trap!
- Faceless Goons: Played straight with the "cascarudos", as they have not any recognizable or distinctive feature from one another; terrifyingly subverted with the hombres robot, as even Juan recognizes a high school fellow among their enemies.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: The radio dashed the gang's hopes: there will be no rescue. No in the short term, at least. Lucas began to lose it: everything will run out, and they will die like rats! Juan cried the names of Elena and Martita. So Favalli halted it: yes, circumstances are bleaker than they thought, but they can still survive if they keep cool heads. Let's build a hazard suit to protect themselves against the snow, and gather resources.
- Improbable Infant Survival: Despite of the insane death toll of the series, Martita and Pablo do not die in the series. Pablo is enslaved as a robot-man, though.
- Inner Thoughts, Outsider Puzzlement: Juan Salvo was having such a good moment, reflecting on his life. He has a transformer factory at home that allows him to live well enough, he has a warm house in that winter night, his loving wife is reading at the bed, his sweet daughter Martita is sleeping at her room... and Favalli interrupted the inner monologue. "Well? Are you asleep, Juan?" Stop daydreaming and distribute the cards!
- Giving Radio to the Romans: Or, in this case forges, steam machines, primitive pistols, muskets and cannons to the Cave People (which are actually in the future, but have been enslaved and kept in the stone age).
- Hope Spot: The comic throws them frequently - only to crush them sistematically.
- Idiot Ball: The Major leads the group into an Obvious Trap, in spite of everyone else's warnings. When it turns out it was a trap, he has an Heroic BSoD.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: When the lethal snow starts to fall, the characters are playing cards in the attic of Salvo's cozy home. Everything is sealed, so the snow doesn't get in. However, they manage to make a suit to protect Salvo from going through the snow for supplies, using only the things available at the house. It works.
- Lying to Protect Your Feelings: Martita is helping her mom to takes notes of their stock of food, and points to Juan that her friend Susanita must be doing the thing at her home. Juan agreed... but thought that it was most likely that Susanita and all her family were dead.
- Mind Screw: The circular ending. Jorge Luis Borges is probably the one to blame. Also counts as a Moment of Awesome.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: An improvised army mostly made of unprepared civilians fights against an invasion armada of Big Creepy-Crawlies, robot men and monsters 30mts. tall with skins made of indestructium directed by a Higher-Tech Species. Of course, as it turn out they are all but controlled pawns of Eldritch Abominations. Averted partially, since they die in great numbers, are treated with disdain by the professional officers and they all suffer a Fate Worse than Death except for Salvo and his family. It is also a Justified Trope, since in both parts there is no professional army to rely on.
- La Résistance: Both the first and second parts of El Eternauta develop around this trope.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The crash? Just a mundane car crash. The sudden blackout? A fuse. The first thing that made the gang realize that something was wrong was the sudden silence. All the noises you can hear in a city, even at night, suddenly stopped.
- Red Herring: The gang hears in the radio about a nuclear test that produced massive ammounts of radioactive dust, which is being spread by the wind. When the snowing starts, they suspect it's the radioactive dust. Needless to say, it isn't. Not by a long shot.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: TERRIFYINGLY Human Robots, since the Manos use a device that, inserted in the spine of a human, transforms his nervous system into a living puppet used to kill or capture more humans. You know... for kids!
- Rock Beats Laser: Literally justified and used, as River Plate stadium is chosen because the big concrete walls are the best cover against the heat rays. Metaphorically averted, as alien tech is too big (although somewhat mundane) to be fighted straightly with seemingly "primitive" weapons (tanks, conventional artillery, even nuclear weapons). But if the tech itself is not absolute, the intelligent tactics of the Manos are.
- Scenery Gorn: Many places and landmarks of late 1950s Buenos Aires are carefully reproduced, and destroyed. And then the entire city is nuked.
- Shout-Out: The gang was hearing Louis Armstrong in the radio during the Truco game. Favalli changed the station in anger when he lose.
- Shown Their Work: a great deal of the success of El Eternauta was due to the lavishing depictions of Buenos Aires Solano made, with landmarks as Plaza Italia, Estadio Monumental, Zoológico Municipal or the Congress Building being invaded and devastated by aliens. The different ethnic and social types of Argentina, the decoration, cars, guns, just everything is extremely accurate, in order to make the invasion trope very real, and the perspective of this 20 Minutes into the Future scenario more dreadful for the 1950's reader.
- Slave Mooks: Every single enemy we see turns out to be naught but a fear- or mind-controlled slave to the REAL invaders.
- Talking the Monster to Death: The information obtained by Juan Salvo from the first Hand and how they are actually being controlled by a fear gland probes to be massively useful later on trough the series.
- Professor Favalli manages to be the first to weaponize this knowledge and it's as awesome as it sounds.
- The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires: Averted, since both writer and artist are Porteños (i.e. from Buenos Aires). See Shown Their Work.
- The End of the World as We Know It: if not the end of the world, period.
- The Watcher: In the second part, a good invader kindof has this role.
- Vichy Earth: Implied by some "Mano" that this is what will become of the planet if The Resistance loses (humans made slave labor and resources plundered). Then, at the end, its implied by another "Mano" that this actually came to pass after Earth fell.
- While Rome Burns: Unknown to the gang, the snow has began to fall, and everybody in the street is falling dead. A car whose driver died crashed, and someone screamed. "You sit down, Juan! It's probably just a car accident, we're not stopping the game for that. I told you: we called final raise!"
- Zee Rust: Alien technology seems quite outdated and camp-material, but, well, the same thing happens with just any Sci-Fi comic of that decade. Actually, put in context, some thingamajigs still look pretty cool and/or deadly. The trope runs very straight for the futuristic Buenos Aires of the third part.