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The Eternaut: The Graphic Novel that Inspired a Revolution

The Eternaut: A Classic Sci-Fi Comic from Argentina

If you are a fan of science fiction comics, you may have heard of The Eternaut, a seminal work from Argentina that has been hailed as a masterpiece of its genre. But what is The Eternaut, and why is it so important? In this article, we will explore the plot, the history, the themes, and the legacy of this amazing comic, as well as how you can read it in English or watch it on Netflix.

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What is The Eternaut?

The Eternaut is a science fiction comic created by writer Héctor Germán Oesterheld and artist Francisco Solano López. It was first published in weekly installments in the magazine Hora Cero Semanal between 1957 and 1959. Since then, it has been reprinted, remade, translated, adapted, and celebrated as one of the most influential comics of Argentina and Latin America.

The plot and the characters

The story begins with Oesterheld himself as a narrator, who receives a visit from his friend Juan Salvo, a mysterious man who claims to be a time traveler from a dystopian future. Juan tells Oesterheld his story, which he records as a comic. Juan was an ordinary man who lived in Buenos Aires with his wife Elena and his daughter Martita. One night, while playing cards with his friends Franco and Favalli, a strange phenomenon occurred: a deadly snowfall that killed anyone who touched it. Juan and his friends managed to survive by wearing homemade diving suits, but soon they realized that they were facing an alien invasion. They joined a group of human resistance fighters who tried to stop the invaders, who used various weapons and creatures to enslave humanity. Along the way, Juan met other characters, such as Pablo, a young boy who became his sidekick; Mosca, a charismatic leader; and Elena's brother Alberto.

The history and the context

The Eternaut was created during a turbulent period in Argentina's history, marked by political instability, social unrest, and military coups. Oesterheld was a progressive writer who was critical of the authoritarian regimes and the US imperialism that affected his country and region. He used science fiction as a way to express his ideas and to challenge the status quo. He also drew inspiration from other sources, such as Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, HG Wells' The War of the Worlds, and Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. Oesterheld collaborated with López, a talented artist who gave life to his vision with realistic and expressive drawings. Together, they created a comic that was both entertaining and thought-provoking.

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The themes and the symbolism

The Eternaut explores various themes that are relevant to its historical and cultural context, as well as to universal human values. Some of these themes are:

  • Survival: The main challenge that Juan and his friends face is how to survive in a hostile environment where everything is against them. They have to use their ingenuity, their courage, and their solidarity to overcome the obstacles and the dangers that they encounter.

  • Resistance: The comic also portrays the struggle of humanity against an oppressive force that seeks to destroy their freedom and dignity. Juan and his allies represent the spirit of resistance that defies tyranny and injustice. They fight not only for themselves, but for their loved ones and their ideals.

  • Identity: Another theme that emerges in the comic is the question of identity. Juan is an ordinary man who becomes an extraordinary hero thanks to his circumstances. He also undergoes several transformations throughout his journey, both physically and mentally. He has to face the loss of his family, his friends, and his world. He has to question his own identity and his role in the cosmic scheme.

  • Time: The comic also plays with the concept of time, as Juan is an eternaut, a traveler of eternity. He experiences different temporal realities, from the past to the future, from the linear to the circular. He also witnesses the effects of time on himself and others, such as aging, memory, and destiny.

The comic also uses various symbols to convey its messages, such as the snow, which represents death and isolation; the diving suits, which represent protection and adaptation; the aliens, which represent imperialism and exploitation; and the maniobra, which represents manipulation and deception.

Why is The Eternaut important?

The Eternaut is not only a great comic, but also a significant cultural and political artifact. It has been recognized as a masterpiece of Argentine and Latin American literature, as well as a landmark of science fiction and graphic narrative. It has also been a source of inspiration and influence for many artists and activists, both in Argentina and abroad.

The cultural impact and the legacy

The Eternaut has been widely praised by critics and readers for its artistic quality, its originality, its complexity, and its relevance. It has been considered as one of the best comics of all time by various publications and institutions, such as The Comics Journal, Time Magazine, and the Angoulême International Comics Festival. It has also been studied and analyzed by scholars from different disciplines, such as literature, history, sociology, and philosophy. It has been included in several anthologies and collections of comics, such as The World Encyclopedia of Comics, The Comics Library, and The Graphic Canon. It has also been exhibited in several museums and galleries, such as the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires.

The political relevance and the resistance

The Eternaut has also been a powerful symbol of political resistance and social justice in Argentina and beyond. Oesterheld was a victim of the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. He was kidnapped and disappeared in 1977, along with his four daughters and his son-in-laws, who were also involved in the leftist guerrilla movement. His fate remains unknown to this day. His comic was banned and censored by the regime, but it was also circulated clandestinely by his fans and supporters. Many people saw in The Eternaut a reflection of their own reality and a call to action against oppression. The comic became a rallying point for human rights movements and democratic transitions. It also inspired other artists to create works that denounced violence and injustice, such as Juan Sasturain's novel Manual de perdedores (1987), Fernando Pino Solanas' film Sur (1988), Ricardo Piglia's novel La ciudad ausente (1992), Alberto Breccia's comic Mort Cinder (1996), Juan José Campanella's film El secreto de sus ojos (2009), and Pablo De Santis' novel El enigma de París (2010).

The artistic innovation and the style

The Eternaut was also a groundbreaking work in terms of its artistic innovation and style. Oesterheld and López created a comic that was different from anything that had been done before in Argentina or elsewhere. They combined elements of pulp fiction, adventure stories, horror tales, social realism, political satire, philosophical speculation, an


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