"El Eternauta", wearing the improvised hazard suit and surrounded by the deadly snow.
|Writer(s)||Héctor Germán Oesterheld|
|Penciller(s)||Francisco Solano López|
El Eternauta is a science fiction comic created by Argentine comic strip writer Héctor Germán Oesterheld with artwork by Francisco Solano López. It was first published in Hora Cero Semanal from 1957 to 1959.
Oesterheld returned to El Eternauta with a remake and a sequel, published in 1969 and 1975 respectively. Both featured a more political script in tune with Oesterheld joining the Montoneros leftist guerrilla. After Oesterheld's kidnapping and disappearance, El Eternauta would continue in different versions by a plethora of writers and artists.
Publication history 
The Eternauta first appeared in Hora Cero Suplemento Semanal on September 4, 1957. Quickly becoming a success, the serial publication ran until 1959 and was reissued in 1961 in a dedicated magazine, Eternauta, published by Editorial Emilio Ramírez.
In 1969, Oesterheld rewrote El Eternauta, with changes to the story, more political references and more violent. It became an open critique of dictatorial regimes and United States' imperialism. This version featured artwork by Alberto Breccia who drew the story in an experimental and unique style diverging from the original expression. It was first published on May 29, 1969 in the weekly Gente. The following years the series was also published in several European magazines such as Linus, El Globo, Alter Alter, Il Mago, Charlie Mensuel and Metal Hurlant.
In December 1975, Eternauta II began publication for Ediciones Record in Skorpio, Oesterheld resumed the story, again with artwork by Solano López. Prompted by the disturbing political events during the period, the script became openly critical of the current dictatorship and Oesterheld himself became a narrating character within the story. Having joined the banned organization Montoneros, Oesterheld wrote the chapters from hidden locations until his abduction in 1977.
The saga was since continued after Oesterheld's death. A third part, El Eternauta, Tercera Parte, published in 1983 was met with moderate success, and was criticized for being just another sci-fi comic instead of a real continuation of the series. Later chapters El mundo arrepentido and El Eternauta, El regreso feature artwork by Solano López.
By Oesterheld 
- El Eternauta (1957) by H.G. Oesterheld (script) and F. Solano López (art)
- El Eternauta, segunda parte (1976) by H. G. Oesterheld (script) and F. Solano López (art)
- El Eternauta, remake (1969) by H. G. Oesterheld (script) and A. Breccia (art)
By others 
- El Eternauta, tercera parte (1983) by Alberto Ongaro (script), Mario Morhain and Oswal (art)
- Eternauta, el mundo arrepentido (1997–1998) by Pablo Maiztegui (script) and Solano López (art)
- El Eternauta, el odio cosmico (1999) by Pablo Muñoz, Ricardo Barreiro (script), Walther Taborda and Gabriel Rearte (art)
- El Eternauta, el Regreso (2003–2006) Pablo Maiztegui (script) and F. Solano López (art)
- El Eternauta, 50 aniversario (2007)
- El Eternauta, Odio Cósmico Libro (2008)
The story begins as a deadly snowfall covers Buenos Aires and the surrounding metropolitan area, wiping out most life in a few hours. Juan Salvo, along with a couple of friends (Favalli, Lucas and Polski who were playing truco at his house), his wife and his daughter remain safe from the lethal snowflakes thanks to the protection of Juan Salvo's home and the cleverness of Favalli. They soon get organized in order to survive the ordeal, making special suits to leave the house protected from the snow and gather supplies. During these trips they find Pablo, a twelve year-old boy, and realize that other, crazed or needy survivors have become as much of a threat as the deadly snow.
A few days into the snowfall they find out the true nature of the strange phenomenon: an extraterrestrial invasion to Earth, and get enlisted into an improvised resistance army to fight the invaders back. During this time, Salvo meets and befriends a few of his fellow enlisted soldiers, namely Franco, a lathe operator, and a journalist named Mosca. As the resistance marches towards the country's capital city they fight on different occasions against giant insects (cascarudos, "beetles"), a humanoid species with many more fingers than humans, especially on their right hands (Manos, "Hands"), giant elephantine beasts capable of knocking buildings down ("Gurbos"), and even fellow men who were captured (hombres-robot, "robot-men"). As it turns out, all of these beings are just pawns, remotely controlled through implants or fear devices by the real invaders, los Ellos ("Them"), eldritch creatures who remain hidden, controlling everything from the distance.
After managing a few victories, the resistance is finally ambushed and reduced to just a few men, whereupon Juan Salvo decides to return to his wife and daughter intent on going into hiding. However, a passing ICBM (which doesn't detonate much to their surprise) convinces Favalli and Franco that a bigger, even global, war is starting and that they can't return empty-handed now, Salvo reluctantly agrees to join them. After the trio manages to land a heavy blow to the aliens' HQ in Buenos Aires, taking down the "anti-nukes field", they flee and Buenos Aires is later leveled by a nuclear warhead.
Eventually, the aliens lure the pockets of survivors throughout the country to "snow-free zones" as part of an elaborate ruse. Salvo's group is forced to split, and he tries to escape with his wife and daughter using one of the alien spaceships, but he accidentally triggers a time traveling apparatus in the craft. As a result, the three are lost in separate time dimensions known as "continuums". Juan Salvo begins to travel through time seeking for them, eventually getting the name of Eternauta, a voyager of eternity.
- The Italian comics magazine L'Eternauta, started in 1982, took its name after the character and initially featured Ongaro's run on the series.
- The Italian pop-rock band Eternauti took its name from this science fiction comic.
The most remarked characteristic by different comic book artists and members of the specialized press is the amplitude of subtle interpretations, veiled references and double readings (many being involuntary by the author) which can be made into the comic. Oesterheld himself, for instance, indicates that the protagonism of the work always befalls a group of people - sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller - something he terms a "group hero" or "hero-in-group" and which he considers more valuable than the traditional individual hero who triumphs without any help from others.
The most frequent commentary refers to the invaders and their methods as veiled references to the various military-led coup d'états which occurred at the time in the country. In this regard, the three versions written by Oesterheld (the first part, its remake and the second part) coincided with the de facto governments of Pedro Eugenio Aramburu, Juan Carlos Onganía and the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional respectively.
It has also been highlighted that, except for the "Ellos", none of the invaders are truly evil, they are but noble beings forced to comply the orders of others. This aspect has been cited as a critique of war in conceptual form or an allegory of class struggle.
Cultural references 
||This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (October 2010)|
One the most notable characteristics of the comic book, is an accentuated use of local imagery, specifically to the city of Buenos Aires during the fifties. In spite of this, Buenos Aires characteristic form of "voseo" is not used.
- Truco is a trick-taking card game, popularly played in the Río de la Plata basin. It is used at the beginning of the story to represent the normal home peace suddenly broken by the invasion, and at the end, bestowing the story a cyclic nature.
- The short wave really permitted to receive transmissions from other countries. It should be noted that, during its original run, television was still not common in Argentina.
- Regarding the use of snow as a science fiction weapon: in Buenos Aires snowing does not regularly happen. The last snowfall had occurred in 1918, and the subsequent one occurred 89 years later.
- The different ads drawn reference real brands or organizations - such as YPF or Cinzano. Graffiti are also shown, like "Vote for Frondizi", referencing then-elected president Arturo Frondizi.
- Every reference to streets or places are veridic (except for those specifically created for the story).
- The first battle takes place at Avenida General Paz, a beltway freeway surrounding the city of Buenos Aires. It is shown the same as it was during the time, having changed severely since then.
- The resistance is headquartered at the Monumental Stadium, of Club Atlético River Plate. The "CARP" acronym can be seen on several occasions.
- The gazebo represented at the Barrancas de Belgrano, from which the Mano commands his forces, is a true representation of the real one present at the place, which is used for small musical events.
- Plaza Italia is a semicircular plaza, where several important streets come together. Avenida Santa Fe - a continuation of Avenida Cabildo (along which the resistance army marches towards the city centre) - borders this plaza, while "Avenida Las Heras" starts at the place (along which the resistance retreats).
- On the same plaza, the homonymous subway station can be found, which is used by some characters to escape. The "Canning" station is furthermore mentioned, although it has since been renamed Scalabrini Ortiz in 1974.
- The Plaza de los Dos Congresos, where the invaders headquarters is placed, is located next to the Argentine National Congress.
Film adaptation 
The possibility of adapting El Eternauta to the silver screen had been tossed around for years, with several interested directors, such as Adolfo Aristarain, Fernando Solanas or Gustavo Mosquera, but due to excessive production costs the project never materialized.
Nowadays, an Italian production company is working, under supervision by Elsa Oesterheld, on a movie adaptation of the original comic. The story would take place in Buenos Aires and the Italian producers are in discussion with the INCAA over the possibility of co-producing the film.
Lucrecia Martel was slated to direct the film, having stated that production was already past the "embryonic stages", but she was later removed from the project due to conceptual differences with the producers.
- Historia de El Eternauta Historieteca (Spanish)
- Dan Dare. "Francisco Solano López".
- Dan Dare. "Alberto Breccia".
- Dan Dare. "Héctor Germán Oesterheld".
- "Now that I think about it, I believe that perhaps it is because of that lack of a central hero, that El Eternauta is one of my stories which brings me more pleasure to remember. The true hero of El Eternauta is a collective hero, a human group. And so it reflects, even if it wasn't my intention, my inner feelings: the only valid hero is the hero "in group", never the individual hero, the lone hero" - Oesterheld, Héctor Germán (2007), El Eternauta, 50 años, Buenos Aires: Doedytores, ISSN 978-987-9085-26-04.
- "you didn't have to be an exhaustive metaphor seeker to associate the military junta with the Ellos'" - Trillo, Carlos (20 April 2007), "Eterno resplandor.", Diario Clarín
- "Este sensible Mano que dirige ocasionalmente las operaciones de limpieza en un confín de la Tierra y el Universo llamado Barrio de Belgrano, en Buenos Aires, no tiene nada, particularmente, en contra de Juan Salvo o Franco. Y sin embargo trata - y debe hacerlo- de aniquilarlos. No es diferente a cualquier situación de las historias de Ernie Pike" - Sasturain, Juan (1985), "Oesterheld y el héroe nuevo", El libro de Fierro / Especial Oesterheld, Annual supplement (1)
- "La explotación de unos seres vivos para el exclusivo beneficio de otros, como impuesto sustento de un determinado orden político y social es, a priori, el gran tema que El Eternauta debate, denunciando claramente una herramienta de sometimiento: El enfrentamiento de oprimidos contra oprimidos (¿pobres contra pobres?)" - García, Fernando (2007), El Eternauta, 50 años, Buenos Aires: Doedytores, ISSN 978-987-9085-26-04
- Argentina festeja su día de la independencia vestida de blanco
- Rosa, Eduardo, ¿Scalabrini Ortiz, Jeorge Canning o el camino del ministro inglés?
- Diario Clarín
- Página/12 - "Las grandes películas que nunca veremos"
- Perfil - "Lucrecia Martel filmará "El Eternauta""
- La Capital - "Historias de crímenes de clase"
- El Eternauta official site (Spanish)
- Hector Oesterheld's The Eternaut translated synopsis
- Translated into English (excerpt)