DC Comics History: Eclipso
By Deejay Dayton
Aug 2, 2017 - 15:03
Eclipso, billed as the hero and villain in one, made his debut in House of Secrets during the period 1960 – 1964: the Silver Age. Solar scientist Bruce Gordon found himself possessed by an evil entity, and spent his time, and the series, trying to contain, expunge, and defeat his darker self.
Bob Haney and Lee Elias introduce Eclipso in House of Secrets 61. Although Elias creates the character, he is really not right for the series, and the visuals would improve later in the run. Solar scientist Bruce Gordon is about to open his high tech futuristic solar city when he winds up falling under the possession of Eclipso, who destroys the place. Gordon's fiancee, Mona Bennett, and her professor father almost get killed during the destruction.
The professor sees Eclipso change back into Bruce Gordon, and questions him about the situation. Bruce tells the professor about a trip he took to Diablo Island to photograph a solar eclipse. He got into conflict with a priest of the local god, who died after cutting Bruce with a black diamond. Bruce believes this is the cause of his split identity.
Eclipso has hidden the black diamond, which he can use as a weapon, sending destructive beams through it by looking into it. The remainder of the story has a brief battle between Eclipso and the professor as he tries to aid Bruce in getting rid of his other self.
The Eclipso story in House of Secrets 62 takes the characters out into space. Knowing that another solar eclipse is approaching, and that Eclipso will take over his body when it does, Bruce Gordon head deep underwater, with Professor Bennett at his side, and his fiancee Mona wondering what is going on. It's a good try, but it fails, and Eclipso is out and on the loose. But Bruce then shows up apparently fine, explaining that some power lines shocked Eclipso into returning to his body. This all proves to be a lie, though. Bruce Gordon is really Eclipso, just wearing make-up to hide his facial colouring.
This would not have been possible in later stories, in which Eclipso has an entirely differently shaped head. But it works here, and Eclipso joins Bennett on a test of a new two man space capsule. Eclipso's plan to is pass through a shadow cone outside the radiation belt, which he claims will ensure he never reverts to Bruce Gordon. Professor Bennett once again gets to play the hero, and Bruce conveniently changes back to himself. They avoid the shadow cone, and prevent Eclipso from re-emerging.
Haney is joined by Alex Toth for the Eclipso story in House of Secrets 63, the first one that really looks like an Eclipso story. An artificial eclipse (any light being blacked out) turns Bruce Gordon into an Eclipso briefly. Gordon thinks that this time he was lucky that Eclipso didn't have time to get into any trouble. But he is sooo wrong. Later, when Bruce is working on a cyclotron, it explodes, and seems to cause Eclipso to emerge from his body. This Eclipso goes on a fairly pedestrian crime spree, although he does kidnap Mona Bennett along the way, and throws her out a window.
Bruce saves her, and learns from Mona that this Eclipso is really a robot. Eclipso had constructed it during the brief time he was in control of Bruce's body. Knowing that it is a robot, Bruce and Professor Bennett try lure it into heat chamber, but get trapped in there themselves. Bruce actively creates an artificial eclipse to turn into Eclipso, knowing that he will save himself, and thus the professor. So it's Eclipso who winds up defeating his own robot.
The Eclipso story in issue 64 is one of the notable ones, although for the wrong reasons. While in the previous tales Mona Bennett had no idea that Bruce Gordon was Eclipso, in this story she is in on the secret right off the top. A note explains that they will get around to explaining how she found out in the following issue. Might have been a good idea just to tell that story. Anyway, Bruce, Mona and Professor Bennett are flying down to the Caribbean when their plane is forced down on a small island.
Professor Bennett and his experiments are blamed for the wild growth of plants on the island. Bennett insists he is innocent, but solves the problem anyway. The others are much more interested in the photo of a Nazi war criminal hiding in the area, who appears to be Eclipso. He isn't.
It was just an optical illusion created by some suntan lotion that had washed off. But before they find that out another eclipse happens, turning Bruce into Eclipso. The villain teams up with the Nazi for a bit, but winds up betraying him. A burst of light turns Eclipso back into Bruce, and we get to see Bruce in the outfit, which is not common.
The story in House of Secrets 65 gets around to revealing just how Mona Bennett found out Bruce Gordon is Eclipso. Bruce and Mona are exploring the park, and Mona wants to go in to a funhouse. Bruce is worried that the lights might prompt him to turn into Eclipso, and puts a mask on, but it still winds up happening, and right in front of Mona. Another burst of light returns Bruce to control of his body.
The story then shifts over to deal with an old scientist buddy of Bruce's, now immobile in a luminous blob. But the guy does have an idea on how to free Bruce from Eclipso. The plan works, in a way. Eclipso is drawn out of Bruce's body. But the scientist really wants Eclipso's power for his own, and makes the entity his slave. The scientist sends Eclipso out to steal a nuke, which gets the whole military involved.
Bruce manages to defuse the warhead, but the military wipe out the scientist's lab, and kill the Eclipso who was working for him. But Bruce sadly informs Mona and Professor Bennett that he can still feel Eclipso inside him, that the Eclipso who emerged was only part of him.
Eclipso continues in the next period, 1964 – 1967: the New Look.
Eclipso: House of Secrets 61 – 65 (July/Aug 63 – Mar/April 64)
Next up – 1964 – 1967: the New Look – an overview!
DC Comics History: Eclipso
Eclipso - The Darkness Within