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Adam Eterno

Ye Origin













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To get a better understanding of the overall development and backstory to the character,I would strongly advise acquainting yourself with the Origin story and it's various alterations.
ADAM ETERNO like most legendary comic characters had an origin which would have been forgotten as readers of Lion and Valiant viewed his adventures over the years. However some will be familiar with a different Origin plot to that later recorded. This was intended to simplify the whole backstory. But to set the record straight,below is the history as it was first told. I have included other Origin stories as told over the years to aid in study. I have also featured the Color Revised strip and several other stories that hearken back to the Origin(both of them)to reveal slight redrawing/re-imagining. So,compare and contrast the differences and make your own mind up! The strangest story ever told,no matter which version you prefer.

       

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THE ORIGINAL "ORIGIN"!
 
THUNDER 17TH OCTOBER 1970

   

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Every legend has a beginning and Adam Eterno was no exception. Readers of the first Issue of Thunder were able to read his very genesis on October 17th 1970 - " Origin ". Created by  Chris Lowder and first written and drawn by Tom Tully and Tom Kerr respectively , we were introduced to a London cellar in 1580. There a wizened old Alchemist and his assistant , Adam Eterno are excited as the potion they have been working on for years is almost ready - the Elixir of Life!

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Adam's master Erasmus Hemlock tells his impatient apprentice that the potion needs time to blend and simmer. However later that night while the Doctor slept,he sneaks back down into the cellar intending to drink the Elixir himself believing it to be his reward for all his years of devotion.

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Adam then quaffs the Elixir of Life! And unknowingly sets in train a string of events that will curse him forever. For just then his master appears on the steps catching him red handed. He states that Adam has betrayed him.

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The supposed benefit of drinking the Elixir was Eternal Youth so long as you lived but in his rage the Alchemist cursed Adam with a "second" gift - that of Everlasting Life! He was doomed to live for ever.However the apprentice merely scoffed at this "gibberish" smashing the empty glass container on the stone floor.

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The Doctor let it be known that only one thing could restore Adam to his normal self again-a mortal blow delivered by a weapon of solid gold. In his rage the quivering Sorceror fell down the steps , knocking over a burning brazzier in the process. Adam begged forgiveness from the dying man while lifting him to safety outside. But it was too late.

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Cursed to live forever,Adam tried to live a normal life but as the years passed and those around him grew old , he became an outcast. In desperation he joined the Armies of the world , fighting in the Napoleonic Wars right up to World War 2.Throughout the 50's and 60's he became a hobo until one day in 1970 when his whole life took an unexpected turn.

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It was fate that day that deemed Adam Eterno should unwittingly get involved in 1 bullion robbery , 2 rival gangs and 3 car crashes! The first car accidentally ran him down whilst the gang were escaping with their loot.

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Tricked into robbing the gold from a rival gang , Adam double crosses the other gang. Incensed seeing Adam running away with the gold ( which he intends to use to kill himself with ) they run him down.

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Escaping the clutches of both gangs and police Adam wanders blindly onto a busy London road straight into the path of a gold plated limousine. First Adam has been struck by a car , then struck by a car while carrying gold , now propelled into limbo by a gold plated one!

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Adam awakes as if from a dream on board a sailing vessel in 1770 - "BARNABY SHARK" , 200 years before the present day. He believes he now has to live his life all over again! He overcomes a band of pirates , but is still rejected by the very people he rescued. He goes on to have several more adventures trying to kill himself with gold.

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During a fight with a hooded scoundrel intent on robbing a gold turban from a visiting Dignitary - "THE FLYING FOOTPAD" , Adam instead hands over the robber and the turban to the police. Warmed by the thanks of the gathering crowd , Adam then and there vows to avoid gold and instead help people.

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I have drawn on the 1st , 2nd and 4th of the very first adventures from THUNDER comic for this article - "ORIGIN" , "BARNABY SHARK" and "THE FLYING FOOTPAD" respectively. The 4th story "CEDAR BEND" was not needed to explain the origin.

THE HOUSE OF HEMLOCK
 
THUNDER ISSUE 19 - 20TH FEBRUARY 1971

   

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On 20th February 1971,with the series only on its 19th episode,the writer decided to give Adam Eterno a bus man's holiday and bring him back to present day London. Note the typo of Erasmus Hemlock's name! This was also the second time during Thunder's tenure that Solano Lopez drew the character , where the artwork was still in development (very line-heavy) which would mature in Issue 20 to the style later found in LION & THUNDER.

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Here we are shown inside Adam's mind as he thinks back to the time he quaffed the Elixir of Life and being caught red-handed by Erasmus.

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Perhaps the saddest scene from the whole tragic tale of Adam Eterno. Emerging from the house with his dead master in his arms , impervious to the burning flames around him. The curse had already taken hold!

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Here Adam approaches the house which to his amazement has become a place of historical interest. Note the plaque on the wall with the same typo of Hemlock's name! Adam's retort to the claim made thereon makes for chilling irony.

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It is almost like we are being given a virtual tour of the house as it originally was! In the background is a wax model of Erasmus surrounded by the effects of a typical Sorcerer. Adam seems genuinely impressed at the authenticity of the whole setup though a little unnerved.

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Adam really gets into the swing of things here as he takes the Curator to task on the placement of objects. Just goes to show he had a good memory!

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The backplot to "The House of Hemlock" is centered on a gang of thugs who cause trouble for a visiting dignitary and is not really pertinent to the ORIGIN thesis. However , Adam foils them and in return is asked for his autograph by the thankful man. Alas it is a gold pen! Adam reveals another hidden secret of the House by twisting a knob on the wall and escapes down into the dungeon where all those years ago he met his fate!

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Here we are shown the "dungeon" replete with manacles on the wall ( though what use a Sorcerer would have for manacles is up for debate! ) . Of course Adam is long since gone,when nobody knows.

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And so we have seen the only trip through time Adam was to make of his own volition. Of course this was a major departure from the plot and perhaps not to be taken seriously though enjoyable nonetheless. It also afforded us a glimpse into the house where it all began nearly 400 years earlier from the previously unseen upper floor down into the cellar via a secret trapdoor. Perhaps it was also the inspiration TOM TULLY needed to streamline the later ORIGIN.

       































THE LION "REVISED" ORIGIN 1

LION & THUNDER 20TH MARCH 1971

   

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On 20th MARCH 1971,LION amalgamated THUNDER. The ADAM ETERNO saga began with "THE INCAS" and to introduce the character to his new readers,TOM TULLY & SOLANO LOPEZ revised and simplified the ORIGIN plot. Here we see a bouffant Adam declaring the liquid to be already coursing through his veins in mock defiance of his Masters cries.

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Unlike the first version from THUNDER back in 1970 , the 1971 update shifted the Alchemist's curse from before he fell down the steps to when he was lying mortally wounded in the burning cellar.

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This scene is almost pantomime in many respects with the Doctor wagging a finger at an increasingly worried-looking Adam! In the original version , Adam simply laughed at his dying Master's threats.

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Here we see a major deviation from the original plot. The curse is changed from a weapon of "solid" gold to just gold itself!

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As in the first version,we see Adam being knocked down by the gold - plated Limousine. Although in this streamlined version , THORG and HYMIS METATAXIS are expunged from the story.

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Another major deviation from the original version. Here we see Adam as he is hurled into LIMBO for the first time joyfully announcing that he can now travel through time and space. In the original version ( "BARNABY SHARK" from THUNDER )  he awoke as if from a dream on a sailing vessel in a very confused state of mind , not knowing where or when he was.

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Here we see Adam vow to help Mankind with a montage of his battles past and future in the background. This would not occur in the original version until after a few adventures where Adam actively seeks death to release him from his curse. To be fair,the streamlined "LION" version , although it dispenses with his "suicidal" quests for gold , nevertheless does give a clarity and clean cut history to the new readers. Alas , it also erases much which was integral to the whole persona of Adam Eterno.

       

THE LION "REVISED" ORIGIN 2

LION & THUNDER 16TH OCTOBER 1971

   

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Seven months later and ironically on 16th October 1971(exactly 1 year after AE first appeared in THUNDER)LION readers are treated to yet another incarnation of the ORIGIN story!This particular version of events was related in "THE PIRATE ISLAND" as a precursor to the strip.This ORIGIN strays slightly from the one given in the first merger issue of LION & THUNDER.Here Erasmus Hemlock utters my favorite cheesy line ever..."May you beg for death and may the boon be denied you!"It certainly shows old Hemlock in a more sinister role than previously depicted.

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Here the Author strays yet again from the initial draft of the ORIGIN.It is stated that the Sorcerer and his Apprentice struggled wildly,when in fact way back in THUNDER he merely fell down the stone stairs in a fit of rage!

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Here is perhaps the most sad scene ever depicted in comics.A tragic hero carrying his dead Master from the burning flames knowing that he is doomed to a life of Eternity for one foolish mistake...Infinity's Child indeed!

       

THE RETURN OF ERASMUS
 
LION & THUNDER 23RD & 30TH OCTOBER 1971

   

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Fans may be surprised to find that Adam's old Master Erasmus Hemlock made a "guest" appearance just over a year after his demise in the last frame of Part 2 of "THE PIRATE ISLAND" from LION & THUNDER 23rd OCTOBER 1971,appearing as a "vision" before Adam's astonished eyes!Perhaps the only thing Adam feared more than gold!I believe it too deserves inclusion here as the Sorcerer was integral to the ORIGIN story.

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This is the 2nd frame from Part 3 of "THE PIRATE ISLAND" from LION & THUNDER 30TH OCTOBER 1971.Adam's nightmare appears to come true as his Master curses him to death!Luckily for Adam,it is only a vision and disappears as soon as he throws the gold pendant overboard!

       

THE VALIANT "CONDENSED" ORIGIN

VALIANT & LION ISSUE 1 25TH MAY 1974

   

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When LION joined VALIANT in 1974,we were again treated to the origin of Adam Eterno as a precursor to "THE TITANIC".This showed our hero in thoughtful mode,contemplating what the potion might taste like,whilst his Master exulted-"'Tis mine!"As we know that was not to be the case!Again a small deviation from the original text and plot.

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The original plot is condensed down into a few hastily uttered nasty words from old Erasmus culminating in the fire which would ultimately kill the Sorcerer.

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At least the box out reveals Adam's bravery in attempting to save his Master's life.Which is ironic in that the old man with his last breath cursed him to all eternity!

       

THE LION "SPECIAL" ORIGIN

LION HOLIDAY SPECIAL 1974

   

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Even though by 1974,LION had been annexed to VALIANT,and Adam Eterno continued to have adventures in the newly merged comic,he was so popular,that his ORIGIN was reprinted in LION HOLIDAY SPECIAL 1974 later that summer.Although it only included the first two adventures-"ORIGIN" and "BARNABY SHARK",it was also the first time the strip appeared in color!Alas it was just the first page,recolored by an unknown artist.However,rather than ruin the original art,it enhanced it.Added to this,was a scroll explaining the strip before the first frame.

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Here we have Adam's first appearance,this time in color,uttering the words-"BY THE POWERS".The scene is beautifully lit and does more than justice to the original black and white(and green)art.Extra color touches on various objects adds tremendously to the overall effect and cannot be faulted.The Colorist is unknown but could have been a staff artist.

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There is something about the bubbling green liquid that sends a shiver down the spine and this scene is notable in that we are seeing the last moments of the "Apprentice"!Again the Colorist manages to enhance the scene brilliantly giving the bubbling liquid an effervescent quality.

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Here we have the last frame from the 1974 SPECIAL,this time with a box advertising VALIANT & LION(the new merger).The year 1970 in the artwork is perhaps pertinent in that it is the year he is blasted into LIMBO!This version of the ORIGIN is also ironic in that it prompted me to create this site when sent me by STEVE LAMING a few years back.Kudos my friend!And many thanks.

       

THE VALIANT "BARON DORNAY" ORIGIN

VALIANT 29TH MARCH 1975

   

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In March of 1975 and as a precursor to the following 3 part "BARON DORNAY" tale we get an insight into Adam's mind as he hurries towards another mission.He is vague about his past and his memory is all at sea which happens quite frequently.
"I seem to see myself drinking the Elixir of Life"...
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Here we see an angry Adam as he recalls the curse bestowed on him by Erasmus Hemlock all those years ago!
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The final frame of part 1 of "BARON DORNAY" shows Adam having one of his visions which usually revolved around gold,only this time it showed the scene from the burning house in London back in the 16th Century with Adam carrying his dead Master out of the building.Adam ponders on the link with the vision and the search for the Elixir of Life and how to turn metals into gold.Not for the first time is our hero afraid!
       

THE VALIANT "LION REVISED ORIGIN" REPRINT(REVISED!)

VALIANT ANNUAL 1978

   

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VALIANT ANNUAL 1978 reprinted "THE PIRATE ISLAND" which appeared way back in 1971(see above)which as we know showed as a precursor to the story the background to Adam's terrible destiny.However this time the text was altered slightly and the lettering was replaced with type-written text!Here the curse is shortened significantly and the "boon" is absent :-)

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Perhaps it is worth mentioning here that old Erasmus was perhaps a tad hard on Adam!He had already discovered how to make the potion.Why not just mix up another batch?Or maybe he knew the power it carried and wanted to be the only one to have it.Sort of kudos from his fellow Sorcerers?Another point of note is why not just let Adam live his life as a youth(at least as far as physical appearances go)and then die.This also raises the anomaly of just what "eternal youth" meant.Did it mean "Young" so long as you lived or did it mean life for all eternity?Did the two go hand in hand?If so,why did the Sorcerer curse him to "live for ever"?Food for thought!

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This story when it first appeared in October 1971 was also the first time that Adam mentioned the "LIMBO OF TIME".As a reprint in VALIANT ANNUAL 1978(published 1977)it would be the last time we would be witness to the ORIGIN or any derivative thereof!Whichever version you prefer,it was certainly the strangest,saddest story ever told!Here's to ADAM ETERNO,wherever or whenever he may be!