It is hard to believe that Eclipse is a first time comic from Zack Kaplan. It is a great example of well-developed characters engaged in a story line that follows a plot that is both original and interesting. Kaplan, a screenwriting teacher, certainly pays attention to his own lessons and provides a great tale. This trade paperback collects the first four issues of the series.
In Eclipse, we are introduced to a world where everything has become inverted. In the 10 year following a solar flare that roasted the Earth; daylight has become deadly and the surviving population of New York has to live underground or in heavily shuttered buildings to avoid being burned to a crisp by the sunlight. People can only come out at night and have to be back underground before dawn.
In this world, David Baxter, a former fireman, is now an iceman. He goes outside during the daylight hours to repair the systems that keep people alive. The icemen are protected by heavy environmental suits that uses NO2 gas to keep them from dying of exposure to the sunlight.
When the icemen find the murdered body of a man exposed to the sunlight, Bax is recruited to lead a team investigating the death. It turns out that the man had been receiving death threats and the daughter of the CEO who now runs New York has been getting the same threats.
Along the way, they discover that there is one person who can survive the harsh sunlight without an encounter suit.
In many ways, I think that Kaplan has reversed the book/movie I Am Legend (or Omega Man or Last Man on Earth, if you prefer) where a man has survived a plague that has turned everyone but him into a zombie that can’t survive being exposed to sunlight. In the movie, the man hunts the zombies to save himself. This series reverses that and the man who can survive the sunlight is the monster hunting the humans who must remain in the dark.
As good as the writing is, this book wouldn’t be anywhere near as good without the cinematic style of Giovanni Timpano. It is rare that a writer without a lot of comics experience, is so willing to trust an artist, but Timpano (Lone Ranger/Green Hornet, The Shadow, Hellraiser) really rewards that trust. There are a number of scenes where your eye is drawn right along where Timpano wants and you are shown how much Bax feels isolated; how much humanity he has given up in the decade spent underground.
There are plenty of scenes in the book where despite being surrounded by large crowds you can see how isolated Bax is. These are alternated with ones showing Bax alone in the devastated remains of the above ground New York. So much of the world building done in this story is done visually. This is a great example of showing this new world and not having people just talk about it.
If you haven’t read the individual issues, this trade is a great way to get on-board with the story. A new story arc is beginning next month. Let your comic book dealer know that you want you want the trade and then add the new books to your pull list.
Writer: Zack Kaplan
Artist: Giovanni Timpano
Colorist: Chris Northrop
Publisher: Image/Top Cow