Calling Adam Eterno… Where are Rebellion hiding you?

The origin of Adam Eterno is retold in this page by Solano Lopez for a 1970s issue of Valiant.
The origin of Adam Eterno is retold in this page by Solano Lopez for a 1970s issue of Valiant.

Given the increased pace of Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics collections, it’s perhaps no surprise the clamour for the return of even more heroes from yesteryear is growing… and one character that keeps getting mentioned is the time travelling immortal, Adam Eterno, a man vulnerable only to the purest gold. So why hasn’t he?

Could it be that Rebellion have greater plans for the character, beyond reprinting his adventures at some stage?

First, let’s establish here and now that Rebellion definitely own the character. As I’ve explained many times, under IPC’s agreement with Egmont UK, former owners of the characters Rebellion now own, any character (or comic) created after January 1970 under the Fleetway Editions banner is now owned by Rebellion.

Adam Eterno’s first appearance in lurid gree-tinged glory in Thunder Issue One, the work of script writer Tom Tully, art by Tom Kerr
Adam Eterno’s first appearance in lurid gree-tinged glory in Thunder Issue One, the work of script writer Tom Tully, art by Tom Kerr

First appearing in Thunder Issue One, published in October 1970 alongside the bat controlling villain Black Max and the World War Two robot Steel Commando (both revived for last year’s Scream and Misty Special, there’s no doubt Adam Eterno, created by the comic’s editor Jack LeGrand and writer Tom Tully, initially written by Tom and drawn by Tom Kerr, qualifies as being Rebellion owned.

As noted here, I even had this confirmed by then IPC archivist David Abbott some years back, when I was looking at reprinting the character for ROK Comics, after Egmont’s legal team claimed they didn’t own him. The correspondence put the matter straight for both companies.

(Towards the end of the Thunder run, the strip was drawn by Francisco Solano López, and it’s his take that’s most associated with the character. Other artists who drew him include Joe Colquhoun, John Catchpole, Eric Bradbury, Carlos Cruz and Colin Page , with Tod Cowan, Scott Goodall and Donne Avenell also attributed as writers alongside Tom Tully).

Adam Etterno reinvented for a fake Gold Key comic cover by Graham Hill. Adam Eterno © Rebellion Publishing Ltd
Adam Etterno reinvented for a fake Gold Key comic cover by Graham Hill. Adam Eterno © Rebellion Publishing Ltd

Adam’s stories might today seem pretty unsophisticated, his fictional origin a mix of alchemy and dark desire he was cursed to forever atone for – but they’re no more bonkers than many other British comic heroes of the time and they certainly stirred many’s imaginations, including artist Graham Hill and Shane Oakley, who sneakily dropped him, unnamed as he wasn’t IPC owned, into Albion #1.

(Glenn Fabry also drew a smashing encounter between Adam and Slaine for the Someone Old, Someone New blog)

Adam Eterno made a number of International appearances, reprinted, for example, in the French title Stark
Adam Eterno made a number of International appearances, reprinted, for example, in the French title Stark

Given those who worked on the strip, his popularity in the 1970s is in no doubt. His time travelling adventures – sometimes more Catweazle than Doctor Who inspired – survived Thunder‘s merger with Lion and Lion‘s merger with Valiant, the character continuing until Valiant‘s last issue in 1976.

So, to answer those who keep asking me – I find it very hard to believe Rebellion have no plans for the character. My suspicion is that we may yet see much more of this 16th century alchemist’s apprentice who drank the elixir of life, cursed by the alchemist to live forever. (Just imagine what a writer like Al Ewing might do with craziness like that!). Whether that’s in reprint volumes or as a key character in the “Fleetway Universe”, remains to be seen…

But after all, he’s an immortal to can travel in time… that’s worked very well elsewhere!

UPDATE: Hot on the heels of this post writer Stephen Jewell and artist Lew Stringer drew my attention tweets by Simon Furman about a little project he’s working on for Rebellion with 2000AD artist Simon Coleby…  read the exciting news here!

• The history of the Adam Eterno strip has been extensively researched on the Adam Eterno Forever site

Rebellion: The Classic Comics (and characters) 2000AD’s Publisher Now Owns

• If you’d like to see what some artists have done reinventing British comic characters, we thoroughly recommend you check out Eric Moore’s terrific “Someone Old, Someone New” project, which includes amazing art by the likes of Boo Cook (Gnasher versus Johnny Alpha), Carl Critchlow (The Three Bears versus Thrud), Leigh Gallagher (Janus Stark versus Defoe)!

Thunder and Adam Eterno copyright Rebellion Publishing Ltd

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", working as an editor, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years. His credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel UK and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines. He also edited STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics, including Team M.O.B.I.L.E. and The Beatles Story. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare” for Tian Books. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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