Saga, Descender, Roche Limit, Trees, Nowhere Men, Ody-C. That’s a list of some of the science fiction comics currently being published by Image Comics. It’s not a complete list, but the variety of tone, style, and subject matter represented by those comics does a pretty good job of illustrating why, in my opinion, Image is the premiere destination for science fiction in comics. Yeah, DC and Marvel have their cosmic books, but those are still ultimately superhero books, not too different from the Earthbound comics those publishers produce. Image does straight up sci-fi, and if you take a look at that list again you’ll see that they do it really damn well.
Eclipse, by Zack Kaplan and Giovanni Timpano, is Image’s newest sci-fi book. The first issue is out tomorrow, and while it remains to be seen if Eclipse will reach the heights of those other books, this first issue is certainly a solid start.
In Eclipse, the sun has become the enemy. A massive solar flare hit the Earth, killing billions and stripping away some of the Earth’s atmosphere. Or something; no one really knows exactly what happened. The upshot is that during the day, intense temperatures make the surface of Earth uninhabitable. The remaining humans have shifted to a nocturnal schedule, working on the surface at night, retreating to underground living quarters during the day.
Except for the Icemen. The Icemen are people who walk the surface during the day in thermoregulated suits doing…stuff. If I have one significant criticism of Eclipse #1, it’s that we don’t really get a sense of why there needs to be this group of people walking around during the day. We see our main character, David Baxter, out fixing some electronics, but why that couldn’t wait until after sundown isn’t made clear.
At any rate, Bax gets caught up in a mystery when someone is found outside, burned alive by the sun. This was no accident, either; this person was murdered by someone who left a cryptic biblical quotation by the corpse. Why this person was murdered, and by whom, are questions that obviously aren’t going to be answered in the first issue, but an intriguing last page reveal indicates that there’s more going on here than a straightforward murder.
What Eclipse #1 does well is what any first issue should: it sets up the details of the world and the characters. My issue with the Icemen organization aside, we get a good introduction to Bax and the world he lives in. We see that Bax isn’t a pure-hearted soul, even if he might have some heroic deeds hinted at in his backstory. We see distinct class differences, with many people living in slums while the rich live in buildings with high definition screens giving them the illusion of still living on the surface. It’s a society that I’m interested to see more of; there’s certainly enough teased here to sustain stories extending well beyond the murder mystery that marks the center of this first arc.
Eclipse may not have blown the doors off their hinges with its first issue, but it’s off to a solid start, and ends with a cliffhanger that will definitely see me pick up the second issue. And at the end of the day, that’s exactly what a first issue needs to do. So well done, Eclipse, see you next month.