A tragic anti-hero doomed to walk the Earth for eternity until he can find the way to end it all – Adam Eterno is yet another great example of the wonderful strangeness of classic Brit comics, brought back in collection by the Treasury of British Comics
“Doomed never to die, he wandered the Earth for centuries on end!” – that was the tagline for Adam Eterno, yet another one of the never-ending stream of bizarre British heroes that we’re all getting the chance to enjoy thanks to the sterling work of the Treasury of British Comics.
Created by Chris Lowder and editor Jack LeGrand with artist Tom Kerr, Adam Eterno is one of the legendary characters of mid-20th Century British comics. Written by Tom Tully, the stories in this collection are beautifully illustrated with black and white art by Tom Kerr and Colin Page, along with extra material with art from Solano Lopez, Ted Kearon, and Rex Archer.
The never-dying Adam Eterno begins his tale as a lowly servant, jealous of his master’s achievements in creating ‘the Elixir of Life!’. But his selfish, greedy nature sees him cursed by his alchemist mentor – bestowing him with the ‘gift’ of eternal youth/life with the only release from his curse being a mortal blow with a weapon of solid gold.
Oh yes, this one’s no simple ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ thing, that’s far too American and simple for our British comics of old.
Instead, whilst this ‘hero’ spends his years and years and years battling evil-doers and saving lives, it’s all with one goal… a selfish quest for one man to find a way to kill himself (well, at least it is until Tom Tully realised there was more mileage to be had in making him a man who used his eternal life for good).
When you stop to think about it all, the whole thing really is rather disturbingly dark, especially as this was absolutely written for the young audience reading Thunder at the time.
As things progress, a pitiful Adam in 1970 gets to realise just how cursed his life truly is, with a twist to his tormented life sending him bouncing through time whenever Tom Tully finished one particular tale and decided he wanted to send Adam to adventure with pirates, or the Wild West, to Pompeii, or to Victorian England, or to anywhere else that could be thought of!
As I say, the first few adventures are all about Adam desperately attempting to find something of pure gold to kill himself with… and surprise, surprise, there’s always something in the tale that should do the trick… only for the increasingly distraught Adam to have any chance of salvation and death snatched away from him, time and time again.
That is, until Tully had a change of heart and realised there was far more opportunity in having Adam play the hero…. hence this sudden revelation…
And after that we get a procession of things in the story that suddenly pop up – all pure gold – again, what a surprise!
And whilst they start off pretty simple, such as the sword of pure gold, things do get a little silly when each and every new villain in each and every new time period has something that Adam realises could kill him – the whip handle of gold, the fist of pure gold, the stirrups of pure gold – you get the idea, I’m sure.
Despite some of that inherent corniness that you’ve seen thus far, the adventures of Adam Eterno read incredibly well. Sure, you might see at as somewhat old-fashioned at times and there’s certainly that continual weekly grind of new time and place, new threat for Adam to deal with, new way to get killed (whether he wants to or not) – but what you can’t fault is the conciseness in the storytelling and, in particular, the artistic delights of the work from Tom Kerr and Colin Page, their scratchy, solid, stark black and white art turning pages and panels into works of wonder to view.
So, prepare to take a trip through time with a man looking to end it all – from the high seas of 1770 to the Western Front in 1916, these are Adam Eterno’s earliest adventures from the pages of Thunder.
Adam Eterno: A Hero For All Time – written by Tom Tully, art by Tom Kerr and Colin Page.
Artists on extra material – 1973 Thunder Annual – Rex Archer and Ted Kearon, 1974 Thunder Annual – Francisco Solano Lopez and Eric Bradbury.
Collects material originally serialised in Thunder (17 October 1970 – 13 March 1971) and Thunder Annual 1972, 1973, and 1974.
Published by the Treasury of British Comics on May 27 2021 as a standard format paperback and Treasury of British Comics webshop exclusive hardcover.
Now… time for the preview of Adam Eterno… a tragic, wonderful kind of uniquely British sort of hero/antihero!