A number of recent Image launches have done a terrific job setting up killer first-issue premises, but I find myself wondering how much I’ll enjoy the series. Take, for example, Eclipse #1 by Zack Kaplan and Giovanni Timpano.
It’s a world much like ours but in a future where the sun will literally kill you. Ten years ago, a solar flare wiped out billions of people, and now, the environment and culture has permanently changed. People interact at night and live underground.
The opening scenes establish the handling of the daily morning curfew, as cops clear a busy urban street before sunrise. The detailed art beautifully supports the world-building necessary for a science fiction story. (Although the spiky pen-like lettering by Troy Peteri reminds me of Rick Geary.)
Then comes the hook: someone’s been murdered by being forced out into the sun and burned to death in grisly fashion. Whomever did it is leaving warning notes, and a rich man’s daughter is next. He enlists a stereotypical loner, down-on-his-luck, past-hero guy to help him teach his crew how to protect party girl Rose.
There’s an impressively disturbed but creative murder weapon, plus some informative background comments on how the issue came together. I learned more about the kinds of decisions skilled layout artists make, which I found enlightening.
In short, I’m eager to see more. I want to know who the bad guy is and what his motivation was and how he managed to do what he did. But this is an Image comic. And too often, the interesting, creative ideas become just another set of action sequences. As happened with The Tithe #1, where religious cultural struggles and Robin Hood hackers became a battle over government conspiracy for power. Or The Beauty #1, the story of a sexually transmitted disease that makes you more attractive, that turned into a chase story as various factions fought for a cure. Or Wayward #1, which began with some intriguing possibilities about a teen girl changing cultures but lost me when it turned into big demon fights with underdeveloped characters.
(One could speculate on why this happens. Reasons might include the still-dominant teen male comic shop audience being more superficial in selecting material to buy; background thoughts of potential Hollywood interest and a knowledge that thriller-style plots are easier to adapt; self-publishing creators falling back on the kind of storytelling they’re most comfortable with (plot- instead of theme-driven); being stingy with big revelations to make it easier to keep serialization ongoing; or something else.)
I hope I’m wrong, and that the third issue of Eclipse is as good as this one. In the meantime, you can see previous pages at the publisher’s website.
It seems as enough people were attracted to this series launch to justify a second printing of the first issue, which will be available with the cover shown here on Wednesday, October 12. The second issue is due out the week before, this coming Wednesday, October 5. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)