Eclipso acting like his usual self. Artist: Jack Sparling.


Medium: Comic Books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1963
Creators: Bob Haney (writer) and Lee Elias (artist)
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Comic books have always been rife with series about heroes. But relatively few have made stars of villains, and fewer yet have succeeded on that basis for …

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… any great length of time. In the 1940s, The Claw, the original cover feature of Silver Streak Comics, is of interest mainly as the guy who brought Daredevil to prominence; and in the '60s The Phantom Blot, a title devoted to one of Mickey Mouse's recurring villains, is notable mainly for having introduced Super Goof.

But DC Comics' Eclipso series didn't have a resident hero, unless you count his own alter ego. It ran more than three years, making it one of comics' most successful villain series, and the character went on to become a fixture in the DC Universe.

Eclipso debuted in House of Secrets #61 (August, 1963), in a story written by Bob Haney (Doom Patrol, Metamorpho) and drawn by Lee Elias (Black Cat, Beyond Mars). Haney stayed for the duration of the series, but two other artists, Alex Toth (Space Ghost, The Mighty Mightor) and Jack Sparling (Secret Six, Claire Voyant) handled it during its House of Secrets run.

Eclipso started out as a scientist, Bruce Gordon, who visited a remote Pacific island called Diablo to observe a solar eclipse, and got into a tussle with a local witch doctor. The native was killed in the fracas, but Gordon escaped with only a minor cut from a black diamond. However, during the eclipse, Gordon was transformed into a super-powerful being who embodied the evil side of his personality — Mr. Hyde to Gordon's Dr. Jeckyll; or, in comic book terms, The Hulk to his Bruce Banner. The black diamond (an inanimate object, not the western hero) became a means to focus destructive energy blasts from his eyes. Only his colleague, Simon Bennett, and Bennett's daughter Mona, knew his secret.

The transformation happened again during the next eclipse, and again and again thereafter. Lunar eclipses triggered it just like solar ones. In fact, even an "artificial eclipse" — someone passing a hand in front of a light bulb — would do it. Fortunately, Eclipso wasn't too difficult to banish. A sudden flash of bright light would turn him back into Bruce Gordon.

House of Secrets folded with its 80th issue (October, 1966), and with it, both of the series it had been carrying (the other being Prince Ra-Man, a minor and decidedly oddball superhero). The title was revived a few years later, but the running characters remained gone. Eclipso was next seen seven years later, fighting The Justice League of America. He went on to occasional bouts with the likes of The Phantom Stranger and The Metal Men, and briefly, during the early 1980s, became a supporting character in Green Lantern. But he didn't become a major powerhouse of a villain because, as later writers said, it was hard to take a character seriously when he could be defeated with a flashbulb.

That's why he was revamped in the 1990s. In Eclipso: The Darkness Within, a 1992 crossover event that involved Superman, Starman, The Creeper and many other DC characters, they powered him up and divorced him from Bruce Gordon. According to this retcon, Eclipso is an immortal god of vengeance and, from his castle on the dark side of the Moon, can manifest himself through any of a thousand black diamonds, turning anyone who thirsts for revenge into a version of himself. The name "Eclipso" no longer referred to his ability to manifest himself during an eclipse, but to his propensity for "eclipsing" a personality and submerging it within his own.

Eclipso had his own comic from 1992-94 and, now quite powerful enough to take seriously (he's even succeeded in permanently killing a couple of minor superheroes), is a familiar sight to readers of the entire DC line.


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Text ©2003-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.