The Eternaut

Hector German Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lopez. Fantagraphics, $39.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-60699-850-2
Oesterheld's gritty and ruminative series, published in an Argentinian newspaper from 1957 to 1959, is one of the great alien-invasion stories of the golden age of SF. But until the long-overdue arrival of this beautiful, highly gift-worthy slipcased edition, it was practically unknown in the broader comics world, a status soon to change. One night in Buenos Aires, Juan Salvo is playing poker with his buddies when snow starts falling. But it's not just a weather anomaly—it's the deadly first wave of an alien invasion. A taut against-all-odds plot quickly snaps into gear, with Juan and his buddies fashioning deep-sea survival suits and tromping through an eerily empty, snow-shrouded city to do battle with ever more deadly waves of remote-controlled monsters. Lopez's noirish black-and-white art, the equal of his EC Comics contemporaries, cleverly highlights both Oesterheld's moody philosophizing and the high-octane action scenes. The complicated twists and existential bleakness deliver a richly mysterious experience. As with much '50s science fiction, the political subtext—made more poignant by the knowledge that Oesterheld agitated against the Argentinean government and was "disappeared" in 1977—is so smoothly embedded in the plot that it slides right past most readers while still resonating once the true masterminds are revealed. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/2016
Release date: 11/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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