Thursday, April 14, 2016

80-Page Thursdays: Countdown Special: Eclipso #1!

The last of the Countdown specials I have: from 2008, Countdown Special: Eclipso #1, featuring stories by Robert Loren Fleming and John Ostrander, with art by Colleen Doran and Ray Kryssing and Tom Mandrake.

Huh, for some reason I thought this was going to have a reprint of Eclipso's first appearance, but we saw that in another 80-page reprint several years back! Instead, this one leads with a highlight of Eclipso's 90's book, "Black Pieces," featuring a chess match with Eclipso vs. Darkseid! (Which reminded me of an old Thor Annual with Odin playing Dormammu, and man, I've been blogging a long time.) Moreso than the actual match, the conversation is key: Eclipso tells that story about Noah's ark again, which Darkseid probably doesn't believe. Darkseid reveals the secret origin of Desaad, which may or may not be true either, but is genuinely disturbing. Eclipso explains a little about his black diamonds...and why he can't kill his former host Bruce Gordon, or Bruce's long-suffering girlfriend Mona Bennet. Yet. And before the game ends in a draw, Darkseid confesses why he had his own mother assassinated: revenge, for her murder of Darkseid's first wife and only love. (Of course, consider the sources: any or all of the above could be lies. Or retconned.)

Next we have a two-parter from the 90's Spectre series: "Into the Dark Side" and "Final Judgments." On the cover for the latter, the planet-sized Spectre appears to be giving earth the People's Elbow...That would be entirely too playful and fun for this series, yeah. As occasionally happens, long-time ghost Jim Corrigan has had it up to here with being the Spectre. He wasn't able to save the life of the woman he loved, and the general ongoing awfulness of humanity has gotten on his last nerve. This leaves him open to possession by Eclipso, who argues that he's been where the Spectre is, and humanity isn't any more worth saving now than when he was God's angel of vengeance. The Phantom Stranger puts together a mystic all-stars team to confront the Eclipsed-Spectre--the Demon, Zatanna, and the female Dr. Fate--but snubs Madame Xanadu, for telling him his terrible plan won't work. Xanadu then, with Father Richard Craemer and Ramban, pulls the spirit of Corrigan out of the Spectre, leaving him soulless and completely controlled by Eclipso! This seems like a ridiculously bad idea, and the Stranger's team gets clobbered.

Even released from Eclipso's power, Corrigan doesn't want to become the Spectre again, but Father Craemer convinces him not to doom the earth out of grief and loneliness. While Eclipso possesses Zatanna and the Demon, and nearly gets Dr. Fate; when Corrigan comes back it's over pretty quickly. The Spectre imprisons Eclipso in his black diamond, then seemingly crams his black fortress in there as well, and then reduces all of it to ash. Afterwards, it's difficult to tell if the Spectre is chagrined or unrepentant, but he declares he can not judge humanity as a whole, only one by one, as he finds them. I believe that would be the last (in-continuity) Eclipso appearance for almost a decade, until an altered (and ultimately unsuccessful) version appeared in 2004's JSA #56.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Damn man, this seems really really worth getting, if nothing else bc of the fun imagery of Eclipso and Darkseid playing chess. Seems like that concept took up the whole regular issue, which it should. It's intriguing as hell seeing them play chess while swapping disturbing stories like that. Sounds like that should be a regular feature somewhere, Eclipso or Darkseid playing chess with the heroes and villains of the DCU while talking shit n talking shop. I know I'd buy it.