Monday, 23 December 2013
The comics are chosen completely at random and apart from a four week lead-in period, even I don't know what I'll be looking at in the weeks to come!
ECLIPSO #5 - March 1993
After the events of the previous summer's crossover Eclipso: The Darkness Within, DC decided to give a new series not to the heroes of the piece but the villain - Eclipso had his own ongoing series detailing the attempts of his arch enemy Bruce Gordon and his friends to defeat the bad guy.
He quickly set himself up as the dictator of a Central American country, Parador, whose main export was cocaine. Bruce Gordon and his team - Mona Bennett, Cave Carson and the Creeper - infiltrate the country but are caught by the people of Parador, almost all of whom have been eclipsed and are under Eclipso's power. Bruce and Mona are brought to face the dictator at a grisly meal:
Grisly because the dishes beneath those serving plates consist of the remains of a small boy and his dog! This book did not carry the Comics Code Approved seal!
While not explicitly shown, the pair of them are forced to swallow a black diamond each, a fate shared by the Creeper:
With the three of them playing host to the diamonds, Eclipso takes them through a nightmarish tour of Parador where he shows them the atrocities he's committing but, despite his hopes, they manage to control their anger, preventing them being eclipsed by him and the diamonds. As they're no use to him, he deposits them in the wild, twenty miles from the border, telling them to walk. As soon as he's gone . . .
. . . they get rid of the diamonds in the quickest way possible before heading off to face the trials of the Paradoran jungle.
Giving a villain his own title wasn't exactly standard practice - it had happened a few times before but it was still something of a gamble on DC's part to go this route. Sadly, the gamble wouldn't really pay off as it lasted only eighteen issues (although these days that's quite respectable) before the Justice League and the Spectre were called in to deal with Eclipso. Along the way, though, the villain (and the series) would become known for killing off several low level characters: Manhunter, Wildcat, Dr. Midnight, Creeper, Major Victory, Commander Steel and Peacemaker would all die in a single issue.
It was a bold move and a brave attempt resulting in a year and a half of quite bloodthirsty stories which tried to establish Eclipso - originally a very low level villain himself - as a force to be reckoned with. Trouble is, I'm not sure it worked, making all those deaths in vain.