Monday, December 27, 2010

"The End" Week: Eclipso #18!

I was thinking this one was going to be a cautionary tale about the hazards of giving a full-on unsympathetic capital-V villain his own comic. Instead, it might be about the dangers of escalation. Eclipso used to be a garden-variety villain, with a bit of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in there. In his limited series and annual crossover event "The Darkness Within," he was revealed/upgraded to demon, and possessed a number of super heroes in a battle royal on the moon. In his ongoing series, Eclipso killed a number of C-list heroes. (Kind of. The Creeper would come back, the Manhunter killed was a fake, and a lot of the names would come back as well.) By the last issue, Eclipso had taken over an entire South American country, and was fighting the Spectre; as it was revealed he wasn't just a demon, Eclipso had been God's own Angel of Vengeance before being cast down for being too hardcore. (Eclipso is given credit for Noah's flood, but would've killed everything if given the chance.)

Where else is there to go from here, but down? And down this last issue goes, partially because it features a cast of thousands and looks a bit rushed. As the giant Spectre and Eclipso tussle...and you know, if you're going to do this, you might as well go all out and have them be bigger than the earth and hitting each other with planets and comets and so forth. I know this was the 90's, and comics were all 'realistic,' but we're already looking at angels and demons and superheroes and time-travelling paradoxes and a big old deus ex machina from the Phantom Stranger; well, hell, go big or go home.

Earth's heroes use the solar weapons of Bruce Gordon (Eclipso's former unwilling alter ego) to fight back the possessed citizens and wildlife; the Spectre and the Phantom Stranger mash all of the black diamonds back into the single piece of the Heart of Darkness, Eclipso's prison. And longtime Flash supporting character Chunk delivers a crucial blow in the demon's defeat. Yeah, Chunk. I'm as surprised as you are.
That's enough art from this one, I think.
All over the world, the possessed are freed, while Eclipso swears to return. As Bruce Gordon and his girlfriend Mona Bennet embrace, a man approaches them, calling them mom and dad, before collapsing into ashes. That was apparently their time-travelling son, who had been the one to accidentally free Eclipso in the first place over a hundred years ago; but Mona thinks the poor man was merely deluded. She happily tells Bruce that she's pregnant...while somewhere else, Eclipso watches.

Cramming everything they could into this issue doesn't help it, but I kind of see why they would do that: you don't want Eclipso to go out like a punk, you want to make it look like it took everything to bring him down. Eclipso would of course return, going through versions in JSA and then Jean Loring; before ending up with Bruce Gordon again. (Because, comics. Name a character like this that's ever escaped from their unwanted alter ego once and for all.)

Eclipso #18, "Works of Darkness" Written by Robert Loren Fleming, pencils by Audwynn Jermaine Fleming, inks by Ray Kryssing and Luke McDonnell.

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