Synopsis to The Eternaut
Translated from Spanish by Ricardo Garijo, edited by Kurt Kuersteiner ©2005 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards
"El Eternauta" (The Eternaut) is a fantastic story by Hector Oesterheld. And his oldest too. It began getting published in 3-page chapters each week in a magazine called "Hora Cero" (Zero Time) in 1957. The story was planned as a long range book, like a real novel, but drawn by a young new artist called Francisco Solano Lopez (he's still working today). The characters are common people from around the town. People like you and me that happen to live in suburbs of Buenos Aires. They are well constructed and very "real", very believable.
The story starts with a comic-writer working in his studio. Suddenly, a man appears in a chair just in front of him. The man is not very solid in the beginning, but in a few minutes he becomes completely solid and introduces himself: his name is Juan Salvo, also called The Eternaut, a time traveler. Salvo wants to know what year he is in, and when he realizes that his great adventure was a couple of years in the future, he starts to tell the whole story to the comic-writer.
The story begins a night with Salvo and 3 friends (all adult people) playing cards at Salvo's house. Suddenly, the snow begins to fall. It's very weird, because NEVER has snow fallen in Buenos Aires. Looking through a closed window, they can see that some vehicles crash for no apparent reason and a neighbor dies when he is touched by the snow. They realize that the snow is poisoned and they block every small hole in the house. One of the Salvo friends is killed by the snow almost immediately, when he ran out of the house screaming for his family. After that, Salvo feels very lucky because he has with him his wife and young daughter. Slowly, the group works together to deal with the situation. They "build" an isolated suit made of plastic, an underwater mask and a breathing filter. The risk is high, but Salvo goes out of the house (using the garage as a "compensation chamber") and for the first time, he puts his feet in a dead world: his own neighborhood.
It turns out that the whole city is under the "killing snow", which can only kill if it touches the skin. Most of the people are dead, but some survivors exist, most of them armed with shotguns, pistols and such.
Salvo is forced to kill some thugs who try to steal his well constructed suit. But some other "good guys" also exist and they are eventually included in the original group.
Salvo and one of his friends, professor Favalli (who had the scientific theory for every situation) join a small Argentine Army unit who survived and building similar suits. They have a few dozen of men who begin the travel downtown. From time to time, they can see "lights" falling from the sky in the downtown direction.
The first extra-terrestrial beings they see are human-size bugs, which use ray cannons to kill people. They're not too hard to kill, but they suddenly see a complete building destroyed. The cause are the Gurbos, massive four-legged animals bigger than elephants. They walked through buildings and have very thick skin and are almost indestructible. You can immobilize them only destroying a small "tele-director" hidden in their neck. Those devices are in the bugs also. Several battles take place in different places of Buenos Aires (in places well known by most Argentines). For the first time in Argentina, the adventure was not in Africa, American, Europe or the Pacific... but here, in our own town.
In his trip downtown, Salvo and his group discover what they called "robot-men", common people captured by the invaders and taken as soldiers, with a tele-director in each one of them.
At last, they arrived in the center of the invasion, a place called Plaza del Congreso (the Parliament place). A huge force field covers the place, so bombs and missiles launched by "the northern countries" like American can't damage the place.
The aliens that rule the invasion are almost-human shaped creatures called Manos (Hands), who have very evolved hands with dozen of fingers. The Manos controlled the bugs, the Gurbos and the robot-men using huge electronic keyboards.
But the Manos themselves where controlled by some kind of super-aliens called Ellos (They or Them), that are never seen in the whole story.
Salvo's group destroys the electronic device that produces the force field and that allows some bombs to reach the head quarters of the invasion. The group returns to Salvo's home to gather with his wife and daughter. After that, they received some mysterious radio broadcasts that give some instructions to go to "safe areas", free of the deadly snow. They followed the instructions, but everything was a ruse from the invaders to catch survivals and kill them.
In the end, Salvo and his family go inside an alien spacecraft (a giant egg), which is uninhabited. Salvo touched the controls and the machine took him and his family to different places in time and space, separating them from other another. In that moment was born The Eternaut, a man that travels through an eternity of time and space, in search of his family.
This is a bad short version of a 350-pages story. So it's missing a lot of important details, including the "negotiation" between the "northern countries" and the invaders. North America agrees to "let" to the invaders stay in the southern hemisphere, in exchange for their own survival.
This story became a classic through the years, and it has been re-published several times.
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