Publisher: Top Cow Productions/Image Comics
Writer: Zack Kaplan
Artist: Giovanni Timpano
Colors: Flavio Dispenza
Letters: Troy Peteri
Review by PeteR
The setting for the series, Eclipse begins in Manhattan sometime in the near future. The Z4 solar event killed billions people. Was the atmosphere of the Earth changed that made sunlight deadly? Was the sun itself altered causing any shaft of sunlight, no matter how small into a death ray that burns all flesh? Neither plants nor animals can exist outside during the day. The only way to be able to survive outdoors in the daytime is by wearing specialized equipment called Iceman suits. A whole new civilization had to be created beneath the surface of cities. Every morning, right before sunrise, general curfew is imposed and the populace is rounded up and herded underground.
Most of the United States Government fell apart, so New York City ultimately walled itself off from the rest of the country. With the aid of Solarity Inc. CEO, Nick Brandt, the city was able to create a society unto itself. He was previously a firefighter, along with David (Bax) Baxter before the Z4 happened. Nick Brandt is also the father of eighteen year old Rose (Cielo) Brandt. David (Bax) Baxter is a reluctant hero who lost the people who were the dearest to him on the day of the event. Now working for Solarity Inc. as an outside repairman, Bax’s expertise using the iceman suits and previous relationship with Nick Brandt, makes him the idea person to bodyguard Rose Brandt when she starts receiving death threats.
Issues #1 to 4 of Eclipse sets up the premise of the civilization and main characters of the series. It also introduces the concept that at least one person is immune to the harmful effects of direct sunlight. Issue #5 begins the second story arc. Rose is trying to understand why someone would want to kill her. In her quest she starts to uncover the real history of the events that followed Z4 and how her father went from a fireman to CEO of Solaris Inc. and de facto ruler of New York.
Issue #8 of Eclipse teaches Bax that regardless of intentions, all nation states are forged in blood and death. Rose Brandt’s quest for answers forces her to choose sides and finally burst from the chrysalis of her high society status and embrace her new life as Cielo.
There are two moments that stood out to me while reading issue #8 of Eclipse. The first is when the agents of Solarity Inc. are having a standoff against the army of survivors led by the ex-mayor of New York, Mayor Holden. Wallace Brandt yells “We’re fighting for the greater good”. Mayor Holden responds, “And we’re fighting for justice against evil!” The conviction of the two sides and inability to come to compromise speaks volumes about the “Us versus Them” tenor of our current political climate.
The second moment is page 16. Rose leaps off the remains of a broken ramp high above the city to escape her father. The moment she throws herself backwards into the void, followed by the expression on her face in the next panel beautifully represents her metamorphosis from teenager to adult.
“The sun has set. The curfew is now over. You can now move freely about the city.” I can’t wait to see where Cielo’s choices lead her.
Eclipse is Zack Kaplan’s first foray into the world of comic book writing. He has, so far woven a complex set of original characters. He has created a unique society that is desperately trying to convince itself that nothing is wrong while the world literally burns around it. Eclipse asks the question of the ages; do the ends justify the means and what is sacrificed to achieve them?
Penciler Giovanni Timpano, who previously has done excellent jobs on The Shadow, Justice Inc. and The Lone Ranger/Green Hornet, series is the artist for Eclipse. As much as I enjoyed his artwork on the three afore mentioned Dynamite books, his art on the Eclipse series has reached a new level. At various panels, Timpano has been able to incorporate the best aspects of artists John Cassidy and Geof Darrow while still having his own distinct approach.
Flavio Dispenza took over the coloring chores for Eclipse on issue #5. The use of color in Eclipse is immensely important. Sun light kills but artificial light is necessary for humanity to exist. Dispenza’s use of tonal hues allows the reader to be able to differentiate between good light and bad light. The availability of shade can be the difference between life and death. Dispenza provides a subtly to the various degrees of shadows and how tentative or fleeting they can be.
Why you should buy this book? The post-apocalypse society concept has been reused so many times in the last decade it’s almost impossible to imagine that someone could find a new perspective on it. With Eclipse, Zack Kaplan and Giovanni Timpano breathe new life into a tired genre. They are able to create hope in characters who have no right to any optimism or aspirations.
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