Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fair Trade: Eclipso: Music Of The Spheres

Not too long ago, I picked up the DCUC Eclipso toy off of eBay.  Around the same time, I also snagged a very, ahem, affordable copy of the Eclipso: Music of The Spheres collection, further fueling my Black Diamond-infused fury.  For those who don't know, this book collects the Eclipso stories from the Countdown to Mystery miniseries, which had Steve Gerber's sadly unfinished Doctor Fate story as the lead.

Oddly enough, I had read the first few installments of this series.  I ended up buying the first three issues of Countdown to Mystery, but dropped the title since I couldn't really afford the $3.99 pricetag.  That, and the fact that while the Fate story was awesome, the Eclipso story featured the Jean Loring Eclipso.  And let's call a spade a spade: no one liked Jeanclipso, except possibly Dan DiDio.  Ironically, I would end up reading both the Eclipso story and the Fate stuff in collected format.

Before I get too into this let me give you a rundown.  In the wake of Countdown, Eclipso has taken to corrupting heroes and making them serve darkness, such as Plastic Man.  With The Spectre pulled away, his host Crispus Allen (along with a recently deceased English punk who won't "move on") has to find a way to stop Eclipso.  His first move is to retrieve Dr. Bruce Gordon, the original host of Eclipso.  Through a series of machinations, Eclipso abandons Jean Loring and reinhabits Gordon, who seemingly can contain the malevolent force.  But with Eclipso festering inside of him, how long can Gordon hold out?  What about the plans Eclipso put into place beforehand, and the heroes he has bent to his will?  And what will be the fate of the universe when Eclipso and The Spectre meet on the field of battle once again?

Overall this collection is something of a mixed bag.  The first three installments, which stars Jeanclipso and is entitled "A Syzygy in Plastic" is mildly interesting.  Eclipso doesn't do a whole lot, but the heroes she corrupts (Plastic Man, The Creeper) and the chaos this causes are pretty neat. The second story, the titular "Music of the Spheres" starts when Eclipso is back in Gordon, and at this point the volume really picks up and gets very entertaining.  The events very quickly seem to spiral out of control, all leading to an appreciably epic throwdown on the surface of the Moon.

Matt Sturges continues to impress me with everything of his I have read.  He always brings his A-game, no matter what the assignment.  This is no different.  He manages to take a three part story starring Jeanclipso and make it palatable, primarily through the use of the supporting cast, and then very artfully dump her and bring back the original.  And this take on Eclipso is very much a return to the original character, although there are very strong elements of his 90s persona as well.  In the end we have a much stronger, more threatening Eclipso to menace the DCU (as it seems he will be doing evidently in the pages of Justice League of America, if Brightest Day is any indication).

The art is handled by Stephen Segovia and Chad Hardin.  Segovia's art is very bombastic, and he is better handling certain characters (Plastic Man and Offspring) than others (Batman).  His Eclipso is featured on the cover and looks great.  Hardin's style is more grounded, but he ups his game for the final battle, which is very grand.  Plus he handles the possessed heroes, including Dove, who pops up towards the middle, very nicely.  Both styles work in their own way even if they don't marry particularly well.

At the end of the day this is a collection which will only appeal to fans of Eclipso and possibly the Spectre.  Most run of the mill DC readers can safely pass on it.  Countdown didn't exactly engender a lot of good faith in the fans, and as such there's not a huge amount of clamor for the tie-in material.  But if you can find it for a good price, check it out, because it's much more successful than you might think.

No comments: