"Eclipso" debuted in House of Secrets #61 (1963). At the time House of Secrets already had a regular lead feature, "Mark Merlin", and the two divided the title between them.
It's tempting to describe House of Secrets as the first split-book. But Action Comics and Detective Comics were effectively split-books at this point; their pages were roughly evenly divided between their lead and back-up features.(1) Adventure Comics had been fairly evenly divided, but around this point the Legion's feature began to regularly predominate over Superboy's, albeit not by all that much. Marvel's only title with two features was Strange Tales, where "Doctor Strange" had just started and was not yet a co-feature.(2)
In #73-#74 Mark was converted into Prince Ra-Man. They got co-cover-logos from #75 and shared the title to its last issue, #80 (1966). Three years later House of Secrets was revived as a horror anthology title.
"Mark Merlin" was the cover-feature of #61, although "Eclipso" got an inset box (and three more pages). "Eclipso" claimed the covers of #66-#67, #70, #73, #78, #80. #76 and #79 had book-length stories in which Ra-Man and Eclipso fought.
Bob Haney wrote the feature. Lee Elias drew the first two instalments, and Alex Toth the next five. Jack Sparling drew the rest. The crossover issues were split between him and Bernard Baily. The Showcase issue has the complete run.
So far I've read the Elias and Toth stories. (I've a couple to go I've read previously.) They comprise roughly a third of the volume. I'm not the world's biggest Toth fan - I often find the stories he drew dull - but I like his work here. Will I still feel well-disposed towards the feature as I begin the Sparling ones? Time will tell.
Eclipso next appeared in Justice League of America #109, but that story isn't included here. It was set up by a bit in #106 where Kathy Sutton tells the Red Tornado she's found him a possible job as a "lab assistant to a Doctor Gordon".
(1) "Supergirl" was the back-up in Action Comics, "John Jones Manhunter from Mars" in Detective Comics.
(2) House of Secrets #61 came out the same month as Strange Tales #111, with the second "Doctor Strange" instalment. It was five pages, and the title also had a non-series story. The lead feature was "The Human Torch". "Doctor Strange" skipped the next two issues and was eight pages when it came back.
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House of Secrets #65
“The Man Who Destroyed Eclipso”
Written by Bob Haney. Art by Alex Toth.
Bruce and Mona are visiting a fairground. One of the attractions is an Eclipso-themed horror house called “Eclipso’s House of Evil”. Mona wants to go in, so Bruce buys and dons an ape mask to protect himself from its fake eclipses.(1) However, an air jet blows it off, and he’s exposed to one and transforms. Eclipso quickly dresses in an Eclipso costume from a dummy, grabs Mona, and makes off with her.(2)
Eclipso carries Mona to the track of a roller-coaster. (Was he planning to throw her off?) But as he emerges onto it a car is heading towards them and the operators trigger its breaks to save them. This creates sparks that cause Eclipso to begin changing back to Bruce. He falls off the rail, still carrying Mona, but they land on a sloped tarpaulin roof and Bruce manages to catch a rope when they slide off it. Bruce dumps the Eclipso costume and the two make off.(3)
As a result of these events Mona now knows Bruce is Eclipso. She says she will stick by him.
Prof. Bennett gives Bruce a letter from a Judson Randall that says he knows how to make him free of Eclipso. Bruce says Randall was a brilliant and rich classmate who was tossed out of their college. Against the advice of Mona and Prof. Bennett he goes to see him in the hope of a cure.
Randall’s estate is automated, and his home looks like a pyramid. Randall proves to be imprisoned in a “luminous blob”,(4) and apparently partly paralysed. He says he deduced Bruce was connected to Eclipso and confirmed it by investigation, and came upon a solution while trying to cure his own condition. He offers this to Bruce “as a token of our former friendship”.
Bruce accepts Randall’s offer. But Randall is evil. His cure releases Eclipso from Bruce’s body as his slave, with the new power of levitation…
This is the second story where Bruce and Eclipso exist simultaneously, this time for real. The rays of Randall’s machine cause Eclipso to emerge from Bruce wearing his costume. At the climax (spoiler warning) Eclipso and Randall are blown up. Bruce tells Mona this Eclipso was a “split freak” created by Randall’s machine and the real Eclipso remains inside him.
In this instalment Eclipso is brought undone by his own incompetence. When he steals a missile he hides what he’s doing using black light. But this only creates a black cloud around his helicopter and the missile, and the military easily follows it to Randall’s estate. And Eclipso goes back there even though he’s no longer under Randall’s control, and knows Bruce has escaped.
In both this and the previous tale the real villain is someone who wants to use Eclipso. Randall’s Egypt-obsession, intelligence and predicament make him an interesting villain, and his visual depiction by Toth is really striking. Toth's depiction of Randall’s estate and appearance make up for the tale’s unsatisfactory climax.
(1) Since the previous episode is set after this one, at this point Eclipso has never appeared and caused public havoc during a locally-observable eclipse. Perhaps he's associated with them in the public mind due to his appearance, chest symbol, and name.
(2) She must’ve stood and watched as he stripped and dressed. Perhaps she was paralysed with lust terror.
(3) The panel shows him making off in the clothing he was wearing before. But he can’t have been wearing it under the Eclipso costume as it has bare arms. So presumably they detoured to where he left it and picked it up.
(4) Its nature isn’t clear. It looks like a sphere of light or radiation.
I had no idea some of these issues were drawn by Alex Toth. That alone might be worth the price of admission.
He did five of the instalments and one of the covers, so the volume has 64 pages of his art. Elias's two instalments have Caniff-y figures and well-drawn backgrounds. Sparling's work, which takes up over half the volume, looks messy and ugly. Bernard Baily's parts of the book-length issues are staid, but the more important thing there is the stories are just awful. There are enjoyable twists in the early ones.
House of Secrets #66
“The Two Faces of Doom!”
Written by Bob Haney. Art by Alex Toth.
Bruce has become convinced he’ll never be free of Eclipso. His new plan is to turn him good by shooting him with ultra-violet rays during the next eclipse, “when the moon crosses the sun’s path and I take my other, evil identity -- in two days!”
A huge meteorite crashes on a farm, and a giant, glowing worm comes out of the hole. The radiance of the worm lifts and repels anything that comes close to it. The creature heads into a city, where it causes havoc.
Prof. Bennett and Mona hear about this from the news and tell Bruce. They want to help and head off for the crash site as Bruce thinks the meteor is the worm’s energy source. The site is being guarded by the army. Mona stays in their car as Bruce and Prof. Bennett investigate the meteorite. They find it repels things the same way the worm does.
Just then the eclipse commences. Bruce transforms into Eclipso, races to the car, and heads off for the lab with Mona in the back. As he enters the lab Mona secretly shoots him with the ultra-violet ray gun, but it seems to have no effect.
Eclipso recovers his costume and diamond from their secret hiding place in the lab’s reactor. Prof. Bennett arrives and he and Mona enter the lab, where they find Eclipso unconscious. When he wakes up he calls Prof. Bennett and Mona his dear friends. Has Bruce’s plan worked? Is Eclipso now - good?
This was the first instalment of this series I read, and my second Eclipso story. (My first was the tale from Justice League of America #109). I liked it for its unusual alien critter, well-depicted by Toth, and because so much happens in it: the initial storyline, with the worm and the attempt to turn Eclipso good, gives way to a second storyline where Eclipso runs wild with a new power. I also liked the sequence where Eclipso destroys the worm because he has to be clever about it and make use of both his eyebeams.
The story still seems a well-put-together one to me, and it comes to a good climax. Eclipso is defeated by a plan of Prof. Bennett’s in which Mona plays a key role. This is the first time in the series that they defeat Eclipso. Perhaps the only time: I’ll have to wait and see. It’s also the first instalment in which Bruce gets no hero moment, beyond his investigation of the meteorite early on.
The new power Eclipso acquires is the same repulse-and-lift-glow power the worm had. It’s essentially the same as the levitation power Randall’s Eclipso possessed in the previous story. It only operates through his left side. Possibly Haney put that in because it’s a glow power and that’s his uneclipsed side. The element plays no role in the story, but I like those kinds of nuances.
Bruce’s ultra-violet ray gun returns in future instalments, including the next one. His lab is an “underground lab complex”, as in the opening instalments, but here and elsewhere in the Toth ones it seems to be in a normal city. The story opens with Bruce and co. watching film of one of Eclipso’s thefts. This doesn’t correspond to an event from a previous episode, so apparently there have been Eclipso escapades we haven’t seen. His use of the reactor as the hiding place for his costume and diamond reappears here for the first time since the first instalment.
The deployment of soldiers at the meteorite site recalls SF movies like The War of the Worlds (1953). The soldiers defer to Bruce and Prof. Bennett when they show up, and later to Prof. Bennett when he returns with Eclipso, apparently because of their prestige as scientists.
The eclipse that transforms Bruce is a solar eclipse visible from the location. I don’t buy that Bruce and co. could have forgotten about it in the excitement of the worm crisis: they would’ve been thinking about nothing else for days. Now, I’ve always taken the story to be mostly set at night. In the meteorite arrival sequence and later scenes the sky is coloured mostly black, it reads as if the events up to Eclipso’s acquisition of his new power all take place in one night,(1) and the way the scenes are lit seems consistent with this. But of course it’s impossible for a solar eclipse to take place at night. But it could be Toth didn’t mean the scenes to be night scenes, and was just indulging his penchant for chiaroscuro lighting. And the sequences may not have come across the same way in colour.
Eclipso calls the giant critter an “amoeba-like menace”. It’s not at all like an amoeba: it’s a giant alien worm with a slightly pointed face. Perhaps Haney called for an amoeba in his script and Toth preferred this idea. One of the best things about doing a reading/rereading thread is it causes you to notice things like this.
The art doesn't dwell on the havoc the worm causes in the city, but the damage it's caused is there if you look for it. When Prof. Bennett arrives back at the lab there's a lot of rubble outside it, as if the worm has been by, presumably while they were at the meteorite site.
Bruce says most of the ultra-violet rays of the sun are cut off during an eclipse. This is true. I found a good explanation of why UV can nonetheless cause eye damage during eclipses here. Bruce calls UV “beneficial” and doesn’t otherwise explain why he thinks it’s the cutting off of UV in particular that causes Eclipso’s evil nature. (Perhaps he thinks it's due to vitamin B deficiency?)
(1) There could be a lapse of time between the meteorite’s arrival and the news report which informs the heroes about it. Eclipso’s rampage after acquiring his new power can be interpreted as taking place over several days.
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That issue of JLA I loved and it is still one of my favourites now, there was something maniacal I liked about Eclipso - it is also missing from Comixcology's JLA available issues which is sooo annoying.
This was the first instalment of this series I read, and my second Eclipso story. (My first was the tale from Justice League of America #109).
I'm not sure it wasn't my first JLA story. It was certainly one of the first.
I flubbed my punch-line. That should be vitamin D.
Luke, I pity you having to slog through this. I remember this one as being particularly dull--not as dull as Blackhawk or Sea Devils, but pretty dull.
I actually like the Toth instalments, because he draws Eclipso so well and for his handling of the fantastic elements. Except for the Randall episode they've also all been rereads for me, whereas I hadn't seen any of the Elias or Sparling stories. I like Sparling's storytelling but not his messy finish, so I don't know what I'll make of his instalments.
House of Secrets #67
“The Challenge of the Split-Man!”
Written by Bob Haney. Art by Alex Toth.
Bruce hasn’t given up on his plan of turning Eclipso good. He finishes changing the ultra-violet ray gun just in time for an eclipse. Mona fastens him into prepared wall-manacles. The eclipse begins, and Bruce changes. Prof. Bennett fires the gun at Bruce (not at his eyes, I hope), but it again seems to have no effect. Eclipso tears free of the manacles and begins to run off. The gun blows up with a flash that incapacitates Prof. Bennett and Mona. When they recover they find Bruce unconscious and deduce the flash changed him back.
Bruce has built a large excavation robot called ROGER for a tunnel project in Scotland. There are two weeks to go before the digging commences, so he flies with the others to Eclipso Island to learn more about the fiend’s origin.
Mona finds Mophir’s cave. This is lit by large hole in the upper wall, and while they are inside a rock falls over it, causing an eclipse effect that catches Bruce and begins his transformation. Prof. Bennett pulls out a flashlight and finds Bruce unchanged: then they hear Eclipso’s laugh and spot Eclipso, in costume, running off. Eclipso stops Bruce pursuing him with the black ray from his diamond and steals their plane, stranding them on the island.
Bruce realises that the flash of the ultra-violet gun had the effect of splitting Eclipso from himself. Prof. Bennett infers he got his costume before merging back with Bruce.
After two days the trio are rescued by a passing ship. Bruce reads a newspaper that says he’s in Scotland assembling his robot. The trio realise that this must be Eclipso, impersonating Bruce. They catch a jet to Britain. Meanwhile in Scotland the disguised Eclipso activates the robot. Instead of digging the tunnel, he uses it to destroy a power transmission station. Arriving by helicopter, Bruce and co. spot ROGER heading towards a dam…
This instalment inaugurates a new status quo for the series, in which an eclipse causes Eclipso to split off from Bruce and Bruce fights him. A flash causes him to merge back into Bruce. Bruce speaks of the gun’s explosion as causing them to split “for the very first time”, but the split idea has actually been used twice before, in #65, where Randall split him off, and #63, where it was a hoax (but apparently caused by an explosion, as here).
The result isn’t here the improvement one might hope. The change allows Bruce to physically come to grips with Eclipso, so the final act of the story is a physical struggle between Bruce and Eclipso rather than a duel of wits. In #65 their encounter is likewise a physical one, but in that story Eclipso is mostly Randall’s slave. I’d much rather see Bruce outthinking Eclipso, so I hope it’s not the case that all the stories will be resolved with physical action from now on. This time around Bruce essentially triumphs because his clothing can’t support his weight.
At one point when Eclipso is about to kill Bruce the latter shouts out that it would mean Eclipso's end too. Why isn't established, but this causes Eclipso to hesitate. Perhaps he figures he's likely to be hit by a flash sooner or later, and if Bruce is dead remerging with him will kill him.
One of the interesting things about the previous instalments is that in them Eclipso always has to recover his costume and diamond, or obtain substitutes, after a change. The exception is #65, in which Randall’s Eclipso comes into being in costume. Here Eclipso has them when he splits off from Bruce the second time, but to my surprise the story is careful to explain why this is so. From now on he'll always have them right away.
In this story Eclipso’s second appearance is caused by an artificial eclipse. We’ve seen these transform Bruce in #63 and #65. I’d like it better if they only ever caused a temporary effect, as in #63, but here the split lasts until Eclipso is hit with a flash. In #65 whether the change would’ve been temporary isn’t clear, as it’s quickly reversed by a flash.
As in the first story, the eclipse that causes the Bruce’s transformation at the start is not visible from his location. We’ve seen Bruce changed by locally-visible eclipses a couple of times, but strictly speaking only the #64 story has indicated that the eclipse must be visible from Bruce’s location to change him (when Bruce says he’s checked to make sure there’ll be no eclipses at the trio’s holiday destination). Once again the caption speaks about what a significant event an eclipse is, which I never buy.
Creating ROGER must have been time-consuming and I appreciate Bruce has to pay the bills, but the trio really should prepare better for eclipses. In this case they should’ve put Bruce behind bars as well as manacling him and had a flash device handy in case the ultra-violet gun didn’t work. Perhaps they did have the latter, and Mona just didn’t get a chance to use it.
Eclipso Island (previously Diablo Island) is described as a “volcanic isle off the South American mainland”. I couldn’t see a statement about its location in the first instalment and thought it must be somewhere in the Pacific. This time around we don’t see any natives. Have they all died off?
Eclipso previously impersonated Bruce in #62. There he was able to do it because in the Elias instalments Bruce's face didn't physically change apart from the eclipse effect. How he disguises himself here isn't gone into. I have to suppose he wore a full-face mask, if only to hide his ears. He uses a different disguise later in the tale.
At the start the story has an image of an Eclipso escapade we haven’t previously seen, but it could be something he did during his rampage in the previous instalment. The panel shows him making off with a suitcase labelled “Bio-Laboratory Inc. Rare Serums and Isotopes” that he's stolen from an armoured van. Isn’t it helpful, that they label them like that?
One of the Scots says "'tis".
After its failure Bruce decides he was on the wrong track with the ultra-violet gun, but I believe we’ll see it again.
Although he looks very different, ROGER and his role in the story remind me of Banner's super-robot in Tales to Astonish #60-#61. In both cases the feature's genius hero creates a powerful robot which a villain then turns to evil. This story appeared one-and-half months before the first instalment of the Hulk one.
This is the last instalment drawn by Toth, and the one he did a cover for. The cover is a variation of the splash-page image. In Toth's instalments Bruce has been a snappy dresser. In this one he wears a white t-shirt during the eclipse sequence through the introduction of ROGER that makes him look like the pre-costume Rip Hunter, a couple of whose stories Toth drew. He wears several outfits in the course of the story.(1)
(1) The shirt he's initially wearing while working on the ultra-violet gun; the white t-shirt; the shirt he wears on the island (with a singlet underneath); and the roll-necked jumper and jacket he's first shown wearing on the ship on page 8. (The jacket isn't visible there, but the roll-necked jumper can again be seen on pages 11 and 13.) Eclipso, disguised as him, is seen in two further outfits: a suit and dark open-necked shirt in the newpaper photo, and a lab coat when he activates ROGER.
House of Secrets #68
“Eclipso’s Deadly Doubles!!”
Written by Bob Haney. Art by Jack Sparling.
Bruce’s new plan is to exile Eclipso to another dimension:
Look here--my experiments with photographic plates exposed during eclipses led me to deduce that at the exact instance of total eclipse, a certain combination of prisms and stroboscope could be used to bend light rays and reduce their speed slightly!
If my formula is correct, it could possibly open a “door”--into another dimension! A dimension we could exile Eclipso into and lose him forever!
R-i-g-h-t. Bruce has the device ready well ahead of the next eclipse, so the trio go to a scientific exposition to relax. Mona suggests she and Bruce check out an astronomy pavilion. (Danger, Bruce Gordon! Danger! Danger! Danger!) This has an model of an eclipse. Rays from it strike Bruce and trigger his transformation into Eclipso. He rushes off, but Prof. Bennet pursues him and triggers the reverse change with a flashbulb camera. Bruce theorises the effect of the artificial eclipse was too weak to separate him and his other self.
When the next eclipse arrives the trio are prepared. Bruce goes into a chamber with an observation window. The eclipse separates him from Eclipso. He dashes out and Mona shuts the door behind him. Then the trio bathe Eclipso in rays from the stroboscopic device through the window, channelling rays from the eclipse. Eclipso fades into “Dimension Zero”.
Believing they’re free of him forever Bruce promises Mona they’ll be married as soon as he and Prof. Bennet have finished a project they’ve been assigned by the government.
Days later, as they’re working on it, a glow appears in the lab. There is a humming sound and the figure of Eclipso appears. A whole crowd of Eclipsos follow, surrounding the scientists. Bruce declares “It’s an invasion… from Dimension Zero!”...
I thought this an awful story. I disliked the gobbledegook science(1) and felt the instalment was too carelessly-written. (Why are the trio comfortable with sending Eclipso to Dimension Zero when they know nothing about it? Why do they name it “Dimension Zero”?) But I think the fault is in the execution rather than the basic story. The duplicate Eclipsos could’ve been fun if they’d been lively and gleefully evil, boasting of their plans, and if they’d gotten up to mischief.(2) I would’ve liked the sequence where Bruce pursues Eclipso to Dimension Zero more if the other dimension had been depicted in a more striking way.
The instalment saw the arrival of Jack Sparling, who drew the feature for the rest of its run. Sparling’s storytelling is livelier than was common in DC titles at the time - he doesn’t keep the figures in the middle distance all the time - but his work has a messy finish that makes it unattractive. He also has a different approach to Eclipso’s face to Toth, drawing it with the right, shadowed side distorted, so he looks like Two-Face. When the character was revived in the 70s the Toth face was used.
Sparling's Eclipso has an angry look and doesn’t come across as enjoying his schemes, like the Toth Eclipso does. His Bruce is a snappy dresser who favours light suits and open-necked shirts. His Prof. Bennet is smaller than Toth's and plump, which occasionally gives him a slightly comical look.
The eclipse that separates Bruce and Eclipso is a total solar eclipse, visible from their location. Eclipso has his costume and diamond when they separate but they don’t appear when Bruce is affected by the model eclipse in the pavilion. Bruce’s and Eclipso’s thoughts during their fight at the climax repeat the idea from the previous instalment's that if Bruce dies Eclipso will too.
I like the idea that the weaker effect of an artificial eclipse can still cause Bruce to change, as he formerly did. I like rules about how a character's powers work but I want them to be consistent. The science exposition sequence isn't built on by the climax. Possibly it was included to establish Bruce's transformations/separations can be reversed by flashes of light.
Prof. Bennet’s name was spelt Bennett initially, but it’s been Bennet since #66. I didn’t notice.
The logo of the instalment is used as part of the title. This was previously done in #61, #63 and #65. So the full title of the first instalment is “Eclipso, the Genius who Fought Himself”.
(1) One might ask why it matters to me: I’ve never complained about Doctor Who reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, which is also gobbledegook. My answers are (a) SF is fun when it captures the imagination, and the idea of creating a portal to another dimension by manipulating light prismatically and stroboscopically seems too nonsensical to me (b) better science gives more reality to stories, aiding the suspension of disbelief (c) as Clark often says, when anything can happen we don’t care what does: if the science is too nonsensical you end up in anything-can-happen territory (d) when I was a kid watching Doctor Who I didn't know any better (and anyway a neutron flow might have direction).
To be fair, solidified sound is even more nonsensical, and I've seen it used well. There's a good sequence in Marvel Two-in-One #57 where the Thing busts through a shield of Klaw's by pressing against it quietly.
(2) After they demand Bruce and Prof. Bennet build a device from blueprints they provide they just stand around holding Mona hostage. It’s a plot point they can’t build it themselves as they don't have Bruce's knowledge, unlike the true Eclipso, but they don’t even keep a close watch on Bruce and the Prof. while they’re working.
I could quibble Eclipso had no paper with him to draw blueprints on when he was exiled but I only noticed that while writing this.
House of Secrets #69
“Wanted Eclipso Dead or Alive!”
Written by Bob Haney. Art by Jack Sparling.
A man is secretly watching Bruce Gordon through one of his underground lab’s skylights. A grenade is thrown at the watcher from a speeding car. He shoves a bin over it and dives through the skylight. The grenade explodes.
The sound brings Prof. Bennet and Mona. The man explains he is Mike Cooper, a British private eye investigating an international crime syndicate called the Octopus Gang. They want to kill him “because I’m tracking down their boss…a bizarre bloke called… Eclipso!”
This gives Bruce a bad moment, as he fears he's been found out. He asks Cooper what has brought him there. Cooper says Bruce has been involved in a lot of Eclipso’s capers and is an expert on him. He says he needs “scientific help” against Eclipso’s powers and asks Bruce to team up with him. Bruce agonises over it for a couple of panels and agrees.
Cooper has information that the gang are planning the abduction of the premier of a foreign country from a diplomatic meeting on the island of Monte Fiume. On their way to the island he explains he’s noticed Eclipso pulls his crimes around eclipses. He has chalked this up to superstition and expects him to attempt the kidnapping after one due the next day.
As their plane nears the island it’s intercepted by an Interpol jet that plays a searchlight on it and radios for them to identify themselves. The searchlight, playing on Bruce through the window, triggers his transformation. He parachutes out of the plane and Prof. Bennet throws a parachute after him and tells Cooper Eclipso must've stowed himself on board and Bruce has followed him. Cooper, Prof. Bennet and Mona parachute too. When they catch up to Bruce he's already changed back.
Cooper tells the others to act like tourists until the meeting. Bruce and Mona go to a location overlooking the town (possibly a castle; it’s not clearly seen), and Bruce sends Mona away so he’ll be alone during the eclipse. The separation leaves him dazed. Eclipso heads off, vowing that “this time Eclipso will triumph forever!"...
I liked the art much more this time. It's more precise, although also more constrained. There's a nice night carnival panel.
This is a much more down to earth story than its predecessor. It struck me as very much like a The Brave and the Bold tale from the 70s: villainy is provided by an international crime gang; the hero gets involved when someone contacts him who has information about the gang and what's it's planning and asks for his help; Cooper's escape from the grenade is just like a Haney/Aparo Batman sequence.
We only see a few members of Octopus. Eclipso does seem to be the gang's head and pulls the snatch himself. I thought Cooper was obviously going to turn out to be the gang's real head but he proves to be just who he says he is, an "international private eye" who always gets his man. (There's nothing about who's employing him.)
We're never told how Cooper knows Eclipso is involved with Octopus. I would've pegged Eclipso as a loner but he turns out to be right about it. Bruce speculates in conversation with Prof. Bennet that Eclipso contacted the gang "during one of his previous appearances", which reminds me of how I explained his involvement with Cyclops in The Brave and the Bold #64. This is the prior story, from a year earlier.
The appearance of another artificial transformation sequence suggests I was wrong in my speculation about the previous one, and that Haney threw them in to spice up the stories' earlier pages. This time the artificial eclipse causes Bruce to transform clothes and all. (There's a reference to Bruce not yet being fully transformed in the #68 sequence, but no sign in the art of his clothes changing.) He parachutes from the plane because Bruce retains control long enough to hide what's happening. Usually Eclipso takes control right away. The transformation proves temporary, as in House of Secrets #63 and unlike in #67.
Arguably, since Eclipso knows what Bruce knows (House of Secrets #66) he should know what Bruce is planning when they separate. Allowing Eclipso to get away and join Octopus strikes me as very high-risk. What if he'd gone after Mona?
At the climax Bruce outfights Eclipso and two Octopus thugs by himself. Eclipso even runs away! Just call him Bat-Scientist.
Presumably the jet intercepts the plane because Interpol is providing security for the diplomatic meeting. I think it doesn't do things like that.
The "Eclipso" logo is once again incorporated into the story's title.
House of Secrets #70
“Bruce Gordon, Eclipso’s Ally!”
Written by Bob Haney. Art by Jack Sparling.
Bruce is in a South American country to build an atomic power plant. He’s giving a speech at a banquet when he suddenly grabs a candle and throws it out the window. It explodes, and Bruce explains he knew it was a bomb as he smelt cordite.
The President explains that this was an assassination attempt by the Matanzas Gang, “a terrorist organization that wants to overthrow my government and restore the tyrant, Generale Gomez, to power”.
Gordon flies alone to a jungle location to investigate a potential site for the plant. While checking a river he has an accident that robs him of his memory.
Days later, Prof. Bennet and Mona arrive in the country to join the search for him. Prof. Bennet realises an eclipse is due.
Bruce has been wandering in the jungle, dazed. He witnesses the eclipse and does not know what’s happening as it separates Eclipso from himself. Eclipso’s emergence leaves Bruce temporarily helpless, and a panther readies to attack him. To protect himself Eclipso saves him from it.
Bruce, recovering, doesn’t recognise Eclipso. Eclipso befriends him and takes him with him to join the Matanzas, who he describes as “a band of patriots who are dedicated to overthrowing the tyrant president”. The Matanzas recognise and welcome Eclipso.
Eclipso and the Matanzas plot a terror attack, and Eclipso deceives Bruce concerning its purpose.
Meanwhile Mona and Prof. Bennet have been taking part in the search for Bruce. Prof. Bennet has lost hope when the newspapers report Eclipso has joined the Matanzas, proving Bruce is still alive…
Like last time the episode opens with an action sequence, this time with Bruce Gordon, Bat-Scientist. Like last time too the instalment has no fantastic elements other than Eclipso himself. This was new for this series and it’s interesting that they followed #68, which I thought too arbitrarily fantastic.
I was worried I was imagining things when I said the art was more constrained last time, but now I know I wasn’t as it’s even more in the standard DC style this time. The art actually benefits from this, as it means it has a more attractive finish. The biggest weakness is Sparling’s Eclipso, who just isn’t as much fun as Toth’s as he lacks the other version’s evil glee. Sparling’s Mona isn’t as modern and attractive as Toth’s either.
At the start of the story Bruce is in the South American country alone. Given how many times he’s been affected by artificial eclipses I think this a hell of a risk.
When Eclipso sees the panther about to attack Bruce he says “If anything happens to him, it will affect me!" They keep saying stuff like that, but I don’t see what evidence they have of it. They don’t seem to share each other’s pain, like the Corsican Brothers. At the climax Eclipso takes Bruce with the guerrillas on the terror raid. I’m sure the irony of this gave him great joy, but I don’t think he really thought it through. Bruce could easily have been shot; he very nearly is. (Mona saves him.)
Bruce’s temporary helplessness on Eclipso’s emergence also appeared last episode, but is a new development.
One of the guerrillas refers to Eclipso being “back again in this country”. He’s been there before? It could be the same country as the one in #64, but he didn't interact with any guerrillas there. The guerrillas are probably Communists but the President’s description of them is politically neutral.
During the fight at the climax Eclipso levitates a carriage. He can do that? I assumed he’d lost his levitation power after the conclusion of #66.
Bruce wears a tux at the start and working clothes on his trip into the jungle. He’ll be back in his standard threads next time.
The cover shows Eclipso emerging from Bruce, so its action has to be read right to left. It shows a scene from the story but the interior sequence isn’t very interesting as he takes care of the panther easily.
The stories keep insisting that Eclipso is Bruce’s other self. If Bruce had not changed into Eclipso originally I don’t know there’d be grounds for claiming this. He doesn’t come across as embodying the dark side of Bruce’s personality.
The eclipse that triggers the separation is a total solar eclipse, visible from Bruce’s location. The caption refers to the moon as “careening” across the face of the sun during the eclipse. Haney has used that before. It seems wrong to me.
A page mid-way through the story has an ad tier. Previously only the final pages of the stories have had these.
The logo again forms part of the title.