The Top Cow regular series, Eclipse, picks back up this month after a year long hiatus. In the future, a world wide solar event known as the “Flare” has wiped out the majority of the population on Earth. New York City has become one of the only safe havens for survivors, whose lives have become nocturnal and subterranean to avoid the now deadly sunlight that resulted from the event. The first two arcs of the series featured subplots about a sunlight immune killer and the dark secrets the leaders of the city might be hiding, respectively. It’s been a long wait for the outstanding series to return. Is it good?
In the world of post-apocalyptic landscapes, movies, TV and comics had become rather crowded with zombies and people who thought that tire rubber was a fashion statement. One of the reasons that Eclipse was able to stand-out when it debuted was its focus on a civilization that remained, rather than the downfall of society that has become something of a trope by now. It was creator Zack Kaplan’s first comic, but his background in film and television writing perhaps helped him keep the plot so tightly focused and lent itself to the book’s visual style. Background about the characters and “Flare” event came out in short prologue flashbacks or organically in conversation, rather than jarring overwrought exposition that more inexperienced writers tend to fall back on.
Starting out, our anchor in the world of Eclipse is ex-fireman David Baxter. Hailed as a hero for his service during the time directly after the Flare, he’s withdrawn from society because of the death of his wife and young daughter. Now a repairman/engineer who works above ground during the day in a refrigerated “Iceman” suit, he is called in by the city’s security force to help track a killer that is seemingly immune to sunlight. Baxter’s eventually successful mission included protecting a girl named Cielo. She happens to be the daughter of an old friend, Nicholas Brandt, who is one of the higher ups at Solarity, the power company that essentially controls the city.
From there onward, both Baxter and Cielo begin questioning the events that are taking place within the city. The mission gives purpose to Baxter and begins to break him out of his stupor and self-imposed isolation. He starts to work with the city’s police in order to find out more about them and what’s really happening, from the inside. Cielo’s survivors guilt leads her to a realization that she might have been turning a blind eye to some of her father’s questionable activities because of the comfortable lifestyle he provided, and decided to find out the truth, no matter the consequences. That led to the conclusion of the second arc, with Baxter, and ex-flame Val, left alone in the wasteland outside of New York, with the sun getting ready to rise. Cielo had firmly sided with the “underground” of the city, who helped lead her to the lab where the original sunlight immune albinos originated.
Issue #9 marks the beginning of a new arc. Another sunlight-immune albino is introduced and if the first few pages are any indication, he’s a lot more like the priest from the first arc, than the traumatized and non-violent Orson that Baxter attempted to rescue in more recent issues. Speaking of Baxter, he and Val are racing against time to get back to the city or find some cover before dawn arrives. Of course running for their lives doesn’t stop Baxter from confirming some of his suspicions with Val on the way. Meanwhile, Cielo has gone full “underground” and looks to have lost most of her indecisiveness and uncertainty from when she first began her search. No longer the victim or ingenuine she was when the series began, she’s looking to expose all of Solarity’s secrets, no matter if her father is involved or not.
The art looks fantastic, as always, courtesy of Giovanni Timpano. His detailed artwork brings the world of Eclipse to life, which is no mean feat considering the desolate sun-baked geography he often has to work with. Given that stretches of Eclipse often feature no dialogue, Timpano’s ability to convey the characters’ feelings through their expressions is one of the key elements that makes the book feel unique, moving the plot forward even when no one is saying anything. Colorist Flavio Dispenza has gotten the palate for the dry, hot world just right. Changes from interior to exterior aren’t noted merely by background changes, but are just as easy to spot by the cool hues he uses indoors and washed out colors of the daytime outside. They both do a fantastic job setting the tone for the book.
*”Sometimes desolate and lonely, sometimes intriguing and full of action, it’s surprising that it all works together so beautifully.”*
Is It Good?
It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to visit the world of Eclipse, and I was wondering how the story would hold up after the hiatus. I was able to slip back into the world right away, and reminded me my why I liked the series so much originally. Sun-kills, the mystery of the Albinos, the washed out and lonely world outside the city..all the familiar elements that set the tone for the previous installments are there. The one issue you should be aware of is that while there are a few new plot elements introduced, issue 9 really does feel like a continuation of what was going on previously, rather than a completely fresh start to a new arc. In all, Eclipse is in fine form in it’s return. Hopefully we’ll be treated to a lengthy run before another hiatus, as this is one of the best teams and books in comics today.