Timeless Argentine pulp SF
released OUT NOW! Publisher Fantagraphics
Writer Héctor Germán Oesterheld
Artist Francisco solano lópez
You may well not have heard of The Eternaut, but in Latin America, this thing is basically Watchmen – the seminal comic whose iconography has taken on a life of its own. It’s never been published in English before, but, characteristically, Fantagraphics have taken on the task of bringing its delights to a wider audience.
First serialised in Argentina between 1957 and 1959, The Eternaut is a work of vast scope that leaps across different SF genres. First, as the world falls victim to deadly radioactive snow, it’s a Cold War-era postapocalypse story; a bleak, eerie section details the laborious steps taken by hero Juan Salvo and his family and friends to survive in a world suddenly turned hostile.
However, it gets steadily weirder, going on to encompass alien invasion and time travel. Playing against this, Francisco Solano López maintains a lucid art style that’s neither stylised nor overly detailed. His monochrome line work generates real empathy for the characters caught in this surreal world. Meanwhile, writer Héctor Germán Oesterheld fills the story with satirical allusions and is constantly inventive, changing the status quo just as you feel you’ve got the measure of it.
The attitudes are a little dated (especially towards women), and the serialised nature means that, when read in large chunks, the plotting can be disjointed. But it’s easy to see why the story endures – this is very smart pulp SF with originality and heart. It stands up today as both a period piece and strangely timeless. Eddie Robson
This is very smart pulp SF with originality and heart
Writer Héctor Gerán Oesterheld was one of the thousands “disappeared” by Argentina’s military junta in the late ’70s.
The X Factor auditions were getting emotional.