Eclipse #1, the new Sci-Fi series from Top-Cow/Image, is out. The backdrop is a future where people live at night to keep from being burned alive by the light of the sun. After billions have died and society has finally begun to rebuild itself, a killer has appeared, using daylight as his weapon. Is it good?
Eclipse #1 (Top Cow Productions)
The first comic focuses on James Baxter, or “Bax”, if you’re drinking buddies, who is one of the “Icemen.” After a huge solar flare burned most of the planet’s population away and made sunlight deadly, a select group of engineers are able to still travel around and work in the daytime thanks to refrigerated protective gear, or “Iceman” suits. There’s some unrevealed as of yet backstory to Baxter that makes him silent and broody, besides the part where people light up like kindling in the daytime. Whatever it is, it turns out he’s one of the most experienced Icemen out there. So when a murderer begins leaving people out to fry and the government needs someone with experience in an Iceman suit to help the Police, Bax is the man they turn to.
I can’t say whether I like or dislike Baxter at this point, as this is the introductory issue and a lot of time has to be spent setting up the world. Zack Kaplan’s writing is good, though, and nothing is missed in the setup of the character, aside from more time to do it. The way Kaplan uses the lethal daylight premise is inventive, as we begin to see some of the rules of the world in action. At one point the killer forces people outside and we learn they can survive as long as they are in the shade, but uh-oh, it seems the sunlight is still deadly when reflected from a mirror. It adds a tension to the scenes, having this ever present danger that must be contended with, much like the Walking Dead comic has the zombie threat as the metaphorical sharks in the water around their raft.
Giovanni Timpano’s frames do a great job of scale, from the opening panels showing a crowd in Times Square being hustled into the safety of the underground city, to the then-empty streets as dawn breaks around the skyscrapers. The night and underground panels are more colorful, with a sense of liveliness, than the daytime scenes that are washed out, in tans and light colors, to give the sense of dry heat. Visually it sets the table perfectly for the story.
Is it Good?
It certainly made me curious as to what comes next. There’s a lot to play with in the premise that is set up, so it will be interesting to see if the story focuses on the big picture of the new society or keeps a narrow focus on the killer storyline. By the later chapters of The Walking Dead, even though the zombies are an ever-present threat, it’s clear the book is about the survivors and character development. If Baxter’s story unfolds into a compelling narrative, with the sunlight angle taking a backseat, this could become a “can’t miss” book. The first issue was a fun, inventive read, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the next issue plays out.