Eclipso: The Darkness Within #1 (July, 1992)
“All Men Make Faults”
Co-Plotter & Breakdown Artist – Keith Giffen
Co-Plotter & Scripter – Robert Loren Fleming
Penciller – Bart Sears
Inkers – Randy Elliott & Mark Pennington
Letterer – Gaspar
Colorist – Tom McCraw
Editor – Michael Eury
Special Thanks – Bob Kahan & Frank Pittarese
Cover Price: $2.50
Welcome to #BestEventEver… or #EclipsoTDW25, if you prefer. This is a collaboration between a group of great bloggers and podcasters to commemorate the… get this… twenty-freakin-fifth anniversary of the 1992 DC Comics crossover event, Eclipso: The Darkness Within! Feeling old yet?
Anyhoo, this week we’ll be getting really dark here at the humble blog trying to keep up with the rest of the great coverage. In addition, Reggie and I covered a four-part lead-up to the event which took place in the final four issues of Starman on the latest Cosmic Treadmill (episode 42 for time-travelers).
Wanna thank the gang for including us, it’s always fun to collaborate with the community. Today we’ll be discussing that issue that puts that strange diamond-shaped dent in whatever poor book winds up in front of it in your longbox, the bugger that started it all… Eclipso: The Darkness Within #1!
Anyhoo, after our normal spoilery-synopsis and reflection, I will list the other sites taking part… so keep scrolling after the Interesting Ads.
Our issue opens in 1890 where two men are being led though an African jungle. As they hack their way through the brush with their machetes they come across a rather ominous-looking cave. At this point, their tribesmen guides halt, refusing to go any further, and in fact, reverse course. Despite concerns of danger, the two gentlemen enter. Inside they find the giant black diamond known as the Heart of Darkness.
They stand in awe of their find for a moment… the mustachioed treasure-hunter turns his back for a moment to consider the sinister legend behind the Heart of Darkness. His partner draws his knife thinking that he might not be so keen on sharing the find.
One year later in London, our man, Joseph Conrad delivers the Heart of Darkness to a jeweler. He orders the fella to cut the stone up into one-thousand identical pieces. When the man balks about the scope of such a job, he is given one year to complete it.
We shift to the present day as Lar Gand flies over the dark side of the Moon. Inside a crater he spies something quite unusual… a palace-like structure he’d never noticed before. He lands to get a closer look. As he approaches, the doors open… almost welcoming him to enter.
Gand walks through the halls, acknowledging the echo of his voice. He comes across a strange throne… from which a man… grows! This man is, of course, Eclipso. He mentions not having had a body to call his own for quite some time… and how much he’d like to remedy that at present.
Eclipso begins to rustle ol’ Gand’s jimmies… trying to stir up some anger inside him. He is successful in riling the boy up, which leaves him opened up for some Ecliptical Exploitation. Suddenly, Lar Gand’s visage has that familiar Eclipso shade. The baddie admires his feat, and gets a pretty good idea just how powerful Lar Gand is… more powerful than Superman, even! I wanna say that this is the first time he’s taken over a superhuman… and now has a better understanding just how much trouble he could cause.
On Earth, we join Dr. Bruce Gordon as he is peering at a black diamond through a microscope. Not a whole lot is going on, so he steps away for a cup of coffee. This gives him the perfect opportunity to recount his origin… and throw himself an Eclipso-themed pity party.
When he returns to the microscope, the diamond begins to move… shuffling toward the edge of its petri dish. He thinks on it for a minute, and recalls that the diamond only reacts strangely when… Eclipso is nearby!
Bruce decides to go on a little Eclipso-hunt, using the diamond-in-a-petri-dish as a compass. He also grabs a “gizmo” he’d invented for the trek… which leads him, three hours later, to a Pawn Shop. He opens the door and calls out… there is no reply. He walks through the curtain leading to the stores back room, and winds up stepping in a squishy pool of blood! He looks up to find a man… very bloody, and very dead.
As he checks on the body, he hears the familiar voice… or at least the familiar timbre (if the stylized speech-bubble means anything) of Eclipso! Eclipso heads up a flight of stairs… and is, for whatever reason, wearing high heels! Well, Gordon gives chase… and finds that Eclipso has taken over the body of a woman!
She clumsily lunges at him… he dodges, and she winds up kayoing herself . Bruce takes a moment to collect himself before giving She-clipso the once over with his flashlight. Nothing looks terribly suspicious initially, however, when the light draws over the lady’s left hand… he notices she’s wearing another black diamond on her finger!
The next day Bruce shares his his findings with his girlfriend Mona. He reveals that he left the pawn shop (after wiping away the prints) before the police arrived. The conversation between Bruce and Mona is a bit on the tense side… and ends with the former expressing that he knows where he might find his dark-half.
At the same time on the Moon, Eclipso is visited by our old friend the Phantom Stranger… well, a projection of him anyway as he’s otherwise engaged. They exchange “pleasantries” wherein they both vow to take the other down. Not much of a scene, but does at least pay service to their history.
We rejoin Bruce and Mona as they visit a jeweler to see if they have any familiarity with the black diamonds. Upon seeing the gems, the fellas behind the counter positively beam with excitement. They know the stories of the Heart of Darkness, and share with Bruce that there are one-thousand pieces… each containing a chunk of the “Dark God”. Bruce is shocked to the point that he faints.
We jump ahead a week to the offices of television station WHAM-Boston where an Eclipsed chromium-age cliche busts his way in guns a’blazing. He’s in search of the Creeper… and this station just so happens to run the popular television program “Jack Ryder’s Hot Shot”.
Ryder manually “creeps up” and leaps into battle. From here we get several pages of fighty-fight, exchanging some uninspired quips between punches and black-diamond blasts. The fight ends with the pair up on the roof of the building. The Creeper arrives after the Youngblood reject, and finds him floating in air. Creeper tells him to drop the diamond… and, surprisingly… he does! At this point, the no-longer-powered baddie plummets to the ground. The next time we see the Creeper, he’s been Eclipsed!
Back on the Moon, Eclipso is thinking to himself how he designed and constructed his “Sanctum”. The Eclipsed-Lar Gand stands by. The scene ends with Eclipso vowing to plunge the Earth into eternal darkness! This has something to do with a total eclipse would be expanded upon during later chapters of the event.
Back on Earth, we rejoin Bruce and Mona… who are now joined by Mona’s father, whats-his-face. Bruce is steadfast against going to the authorities with the Eclipso schmazz… claiming that the event in Boston (remember, with the Creeper) may not have had anything to do with the moon-faced baddie… after all, there was no black diamond at the scene… You and I know why that is, but Bruce and company don’t! Bruce reveals his latest invention… a true tracking compass, powered by the two black diamonds. He intends to track Eclipso down and… I dunno, fight him? Get killed by him? I’m sure he’s got something planned after finding him… right? Anyhoo, Mona refuses to let him go alone and insists to accompany him…
… all the way to the Metropolis Mall! Their compass leads them to an arcade… er, “video game parlor”. Inside a manchild pushes a young kid away from a Rage-Boy video game. That was always one of my favorites when I was a kid. We can see that the lad is holding a black diamond… and when he’s enraged he… er, vomits?!
The throw-up takes the shape of a shadowy-black video game monster that grabs the manbaby and tosses him away. Bruce is quickly on the scene, and “attacks” the beastie with… a flashbulb?
Yeah, that worked about as well as you thought it would…
At the Daily Planet the news of the Mall-Monster comes across the wire. Luckily Clark Kent is there, dutifully typing away… which is to say, it’s not long before Superman is on the scene.
Inside, Superman confronts the Mall-Monster… and, well… kinda gets whupped a bit. The Monster/Eclipso thinks to himself that he needs to keep an eye on that kid with the black diamond if he really wants to take Superman’s body, and so he breaks away from the battle to look for him. He comes across Bruce Gordon who uses that gizmo (basically a solar blaster) from wayyy back toward the beginning of the book… which works quite a bit better than the flashbulb. The Monster disintegrates before their very eyes.
Well, that was a lot to take in, wasn’t it?
I wanna start by giving a bit of my personal experience with the character. Having come into comics at the dawning of the 1990’s, I didn’t have all that much of a frame of reference for Eclipso. This event was one of the things that initially drew me to DC Comics… I saw it as an opportunity to broaden my reading/collecting horizons… and, well… I’d be lying if I said speculation had nothing to do with it. So many new number-ones, know what I’m sayin’?
Anyway, I say all of that so I can say this… I thought Eclipso was a really big deal… like Darkseid level… hell, I didn’t know Darkseid at the time, so I’d have put Eclipso even above that! So, if this story set to give Eclipso the, in wrestling parlance “push”… I wasn’t able to fully appreciate his “leveling up”.
For the story itself… I gotta say, I love the idea of the Heart of Darkness. It stands to reason that Eclipso’s black diamond would have had to come from somewhere, right? A giant black rock is as good a place as any… and opens up so many storytelling possibilities, such as the one we’re enjoying here. That’s something I couldn’t appreciate my first time through, as I didn’t understand that this was a “revelation”.
Speaking of which… I didn’t know that Eclipso had never tried to “eclipse” anyone other than Bruce Gordon. Or that he wasn’t exactly Bruce Gordon’s “dark mirror/dark half” but a demon who regularly possessed him. Despite all of this, I really enjoyed seeing Eclipso in action here. Not only can he possess other humans, but he can eclipse… superhumans as well! I thought it odd they used “superhuman” rather than “metahuman”, but whatayagonnado?
Bart Sears art here was really good. Sears is an artist that I go hot and cold with. I really enjoy him on certain characters, wherein his large and bombastic style really suits them… and really dislike it on others. I find his style, for a lack of a better term… meaty. Especially the faces. That is certainly the case here, however, it suits those featured… excluding the women, which, I gotta say, he didn’t go all-out “meaty” on them here. I always think of how he depicted Power Girl during early issues of Justice League Europe… really didn’t dig that. This over-sized issue features a pair of inkers, and I couldn’t tell ya where one stops and the other starts… so, that’s a good thing!
Overall, I’d definitely recommend checking this out. I feel that throughout the full event the gimmick may have played itself out, but as opening chapters go, this was really quite good. The stage is (somewhat) set, and we have a taste of what’s to come. I’m rather surprised to find that this event is not available digitally… nor has it been collected! Don’t fret though… because if you’re down for some “darkening”, I have a sneaking suspicion you won’t have to look much further than your local cheap-o bin. Can’t speak for all of ’em, but at least this issue is worth the hunt. Just make sure it comes with the ginchy jewel!
The Darkness Continues…
Eclipso ’66… What a Puzzling Beginning!
Eclipso ’66… Playing Cards With Batman, Part One
Eclipso ’66… Playing Cards With Batman, Part Two