Review by E. Kirshe
Eclipse, author Zack Kaplan’s debut work, has a promising sci-fi premise that doesn’t quite find its footing.
In Eclipse, Earth’s sun has turned deadly and living things can no longer go out unprotected in daylight or they will be burned to a crisp. Much of the population burned alive the day the sun became deadly and the remaining humans now lead nocturnal lives. One day, a body is found in New York City. The victim was murdered by sunlight- literal writing on the wall says this is the work of a religion-crazed killer.
Bax, the main character, is immediately drawn into the narrative because he works outside during the day in an iceman suit. It’s believed the killer must be using one of these suits if he was able to keep a victim outdoors until they burned. Bax teams up with the police to protect the killer’s next target- the teenaged daughter of a solar industrialist.
The plot follows a lot of action story tropes. Grizzly loner with a sad past, Bax, must protect a teenaged girl from a psycho-killer. It’s not super clear why this mostly falls to him and not the police. He occasionally gets information before them and doesn’t share it even though there’s no clear reason not to trust them. There’s a slight corporate criticism element and the killer is a religious fanatic. It’s later revealed that his motivation is mostly that he went crazy (for good reasons) but the event that led to it has no clear motivation by the exposition we get. Also what’s unique about the killer doesn’t seem as important as it should but perhaps that’s explored more in later issues.
The scorched earth feel of establishing panels is nicely done- full pages drenched in harsh yellow light really gets the point across. On close up Timpano’s art often fails- there were pages where I lost the thread of conversation because every square jawed bestubbled male looked exactly alike- I couldn’t tell if the main character was even on the page. Even though they were drawn uniformly at least they had human proportions- the only female characters have weirdly oversized eyes and lips, and breasts.
Speaking of everyone looking the same it’s strange that almost every character is white- even in large crowd establishing shots- for a narrative that takes place in New York City. This leads me to my next criticism which was that the world-building in general was pretty weak. As I’ve said the location isn’t used well. Not every sci-fi narrative needs to have massively complex rules but for a society driven underground making clear use of NYC’s underground subway infrastructure would have been interesting and also just makes sense. They kind of do but there’s a lot of focus on moving around outside in suits, or just using upper floors of boarded up buildings- most of which seem to be crumbling in outside shots so make up your mind, also where is your water supply coming from guys? Didn’t that evaporate? Obviously none of this is necessary but the plot wasn’t strong enough to stand on its own so it would’ve been nice to have something else to focus on.
Eclipse is a decent enough flip-through first work that shows some creativity even though it falls flat here. Hopefully Kaplan works out some of this stuff in the next volume.
The Furious Gazelle received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review