With the regular series underway, the world of Eclipse is getting a little bigger. After a solar event, referred to as the “Flare,” turned sunlight deadly and killed the majority of the people on Earth, survivors in New York City have taken to living underground. In the first story arc, a sunlight-immune priest goes on a killing spree, only to be stopped by ex-firefighter David Baxter. Now, Baxter is trying to find another of the sunlight immune people, who might be the key to immunity for the rest of the population. To find him, Bax is going to have to venture out into the sun-scorched wasteland, with only his refrigerated “Iceman” suit to protect him. Is it good?
Writer: Zack Kaplan
Artist: Giovanni Timpano
Publisher: Top Cow Publishing
Since the Priest incident ended, Baxter has taken a job with Solarity, the city’s supplier of electricity, and began working with the police on a full-time basis. Of course, Baxter doesn’t really trust the government or Solarity, believing they know more about the sunlight-immune people than they are letting on. By working with them he thinks he’ll be able to uncover the truth and whether he can really trust mayor Brandt, who happens to Baxter’s old fire chief and the head of Solarity. This issue has Baxter on a mission to barter with the leader of a militarized faction of survivors that live apart from the city in West Point Military Academy. We found out last issue that the former mayor of New York, who was outcast from the city, is the new leader and they seem to be armed and dangerous.
The other angle being followed has Cielo, the mayor’s daughter and target of the priest from the first arc, searching for answers for why she was on the killer’s list. It’s making her question the leadership of the city, as she has to make a decision about finding the truth or letting the past trauma paint her as a victim. This leads her to venture to the “underground” portion of the city, a much more dangerous and shady area, to find a person called the “Conductor” who supposedly knows everything that goes on.
Writer Zack Kaplan continues to impress with his world building. Because the first arc was very self-contained, with the larger details of the Eclipse world only being reveled as were necessary, each new volume is a bit of a discovery. It’s a great metaphor to see Baxter walking alone through the desert to the heavily fortified camp of the Ex-Mayor Holden, as it parallels his mission to find out what secrets Solarity is hiding, and what danger may be all around.
Kaplan also expands the world within the walls of the city, as Cielo’s own quest for answers leads to the underground area of New York. There are some hints here of bigger things to come and the introduction of what I assume will be an important character in the future. It’s nice to see him expanding Cielo’s role, since in the first arc she spent the majority of the time being saved by Baxter and running for her life. Giving her the lead in her own storyline has allowed us to see a different point of view from someone who isn’t as world weary as Baxter. Kaplan writes her with these vulnerabilities and insecurities, but he’s also showing us that’s she’s willing to become strong in order to not be a victim again.
Artist Giovanni Timpano makes everything look great, as he has since the first issue. I always like the open, landscape panels that have come to be synonymous, to me, with an issue of Eclipse. It makes the world, with its harsh, lethal daylight, a character that plays as large a role as any of its human co-stars. Flavio Dispense is on colors and does some nice work. In particular, a scene in the underground has a nice contrast between the shadowy environment and the deadly rays of sunlight that have broken through holes in the roof. A chase happens here, where the runners have to dodge and weave through them, which is a highlight of the volume.
Is It Good?
Kaplan and company are on a roll right now. The book is interesting and filled with all the things that have made the series unique, such as the cinematic framing of action sequences and minimalist dialogue when there’s nothing to say and the panel can stand on its own. Both characters’ storylines are interesting, with lots of tension and cliffhanger endings. We’re beginning to see the story building its mystery to future revelations and the pacing has been fantastic. The fact that it’s been done without a deus ex machina or a lot of red herrings to prop it up gives me faith the book’s going to continue on its hot streak for the foreseeable future.