THE ETERNAUT, a graphic narrative by Héctor Germán Oesterheld reviewed by Natalie Pendergast • Cleaver Magazine
Deadly, beautiful “flakes” falling gently, the bodies they touch folding neatly to the ground. The light thrower, a powerful weapon that spotlights your death, as though stage fright wasn’t real enough. Sinister devices “plugged in” to the necks of robot men, long before The Matrix was even a twinkle in the Wachowski Brothers’ eye. All of these: combining to form layers of artful threats to your well-being, like different sections of an orchestra imbricated and inter-punctuated to form a unified song. This is the world we enter upon reading the Eternaut’s, also known as Juan Salvo’s, recounted story. More: hallucinogenic, mind-controlling biological warfare, the telecommunication gadgets that dreams are made of, fifth column military pursuits by alien “hands,” enraged “gurbos” and an enemy automaton disguised as an attractive woman. A faraway extraterrestrial empire has designs on colonizing not only as many planets as possible, but also on pillaging the galaxy’s resources by picking pockets of time throughout eternity. Navigating this same eternity is the Eternaut. A displaced person in space, he borrows somewhere to sit from other slots in time, so as not to allow for his own vanishing. Set in “today”—or late 1950s Buenos Aires—The Eternaut, both man and story, arrives like a hologram in the office chair facing writer Héctor Germán Oesterheld. Together with Oesterheld, we are just one stop among many on his sempiternal journey.