Writers: Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming
Penciller: Bart Sears
Inkers: Randy Elliott and Mark Pennington
Cover: Nice and easy to start – this is a close up of the villain Eclipso holding a black diamond.
Page 1 – Panel 1: This, as the caption states, is Africa in 1890 where writer Joseph Conrad has travelled, a journey which will inspire one of his best known works, Heart of Darkness.
Page 1 – Panel 2: The man in the front is Henry Gordon; the man in white behind him is only referred to as “Professor.”
Page 2 – Panels 1 and 2: Gordon refers to “that writer” signalling that Conrad has stayed behind and plays no part in what is about to happen.
Page 2 – Panel 4: The entrance to their destination; note the carved column to the left which has two faces.
Page 2 – Panel 5: The natives who have acted as guides now, in the best tradition of natives guides in literature and film, refuse to continue and, on the next page, turn and flee.
Page 3 – Panel 3: Gordon mentions “IT” must be within the cave/temple structure.
Page 3 – Panel 4: Gordon dismisses the Professor’s fears of booby traps, a common feature in stories featuring ancient tombs being raided. As Gordon says, after hundreds if not thousands of years, any such traps are likely to have rotted or simply broken down.
Page 4 – Panel 5: And here we discover what “IT” is – the Heart of Darkness, a perfect black diamond. Whether it’s the perspective of the art shown on the right or the predominately purple colouring that confuses the eye or a combination of both, that diamond appears – in this picture – to be around six feet tall. The stairs appear to finish at the base and it’s not immediately clear that the diamond is raised up on a pedestal.
Page 5 – Panel 4: The Professor imparts an important plot point about the nature of the diamond – the diamond itself isn’t evil, rather it attracts evil to it.
Page 5 – Panel 5: A fact that becomes apparent as Gordon succumbs not to the diamond but to his own greed. While not seen, it’s clear that Gordon kills the Professor and steals the diamond.
Page 6 – Panel 1: As the caption says, it’s now a few months later in London.
Page 6 – Panels 2 to 4: A jeweller employed by Gordon to cut the black diamond up into a thousand pieces. Its dimensions are a lot clearer here, being perhaps a foot tall.
Page 6 – Panel 6: Gordon’s request explains why the black diamonds that will plague the heroes throughout the rest of this series all look the same.
Page 7 – Panels 1 to 3: Not only a drastic change in time – travelling as we are a hundred years on from the previous scene – but also in location as we leave London for the dark side of the moon. It’s interesting to note that as the previous scene was dated down to the day, the caption in Panel 1 implies that the events of The Darkness Within take place in 1991, the year before the actual series is published.
Page 7 – Panels 4 and 5: The quote is from William Shakespeare’s Sonnet number 35, including the title of this issue shown on the next page.
Page 8: Flying high above a large, purple structure is . . .
Page 9 – Panels 2 to 4: Lar Gand, a Daxamite hero based on Earth who, apparently, has a habit of flying around the moon.
Page 9 – Panel 6: He wonders if the whole structure is organic – any bets on whether he’s right?
Page 11 – Panel 3: Lar Gand wonders why his temper is fraying . . .
Page 11 – Panel 4: . . . and he’s answered by . . .
Page 11 – Panel 5: . . . someone who appears to have grown from a chair . . .
Page 12: . . . the villain of the piece, whose palace Lar Gand has wandered into Eclipso. Technically, this is Eclipso’s first appearance in this form; prior to this, he was believed to be the evil side of Dr Bruce Gordon (whom we’ll meet soon) rather than a character in his own right. This series (along with later revelations in The Spectre) retconned his origin and revealed him to be more powerful than previously thought.
Page 13 – Panel 3: Eclipso’s claim to be “all-powerful” here in his palace will come in to play in the next issue.
Page 14 – Panel 1: Lar Gand is possessed – or eclipsed – by Eclipso, hence the blue semi-circle over his face and Eclipso’s thought balloons.
Page 15 – Panels 1 to 4: Eclipso comes to realise that the superhumans, whom he had avoided attempting to possess over the years, are actually a source of power for him if he can eclipse them.
Page 15 – Panel 5: And with that realisation comes the determination to take the fight to them.
Page 16 – Panel 1: From the moon to Manhattan where we find . . .
Page 16 – Panels 4 and 5: . . . Dr Bruce Gordon who we mentioned a moment ago. Here he’s examining what he believes to be Eclipso’s black diamond – a single stone that he’s had for some time now. Oh, and if you’re wondering if there’s any connection between Bruce Gordon here and Henry Gordon who found the stone at the start of the issue . . . well, you’ll have to wait and see.
Page 17 – Panel 3: As mentioned above, at this time Bruce thinks that Eclipso is nothing more than his own evil half rather than an entity in his own right.
Page 17 – Panel 4: Perhaps the most succinct re-telling of an origin story ever! Eclipso’s earlier origin was tied into a tribal sorcerer called Mophir (shown here) who attacked Bruce and, as Mophir fell to his death, scratched Bruce’s skin with the black diamond. This would be the curse that would release Bruce’s evil side, ie the weaker, earlier version of Eclipso.
Page 18 – Panels 1 and 2: The black diamond Bruce owns moves of its own accord, something its never done before.
Page 19 – Panels 1 and 2: Bruce realises that this means Eclipso must be nearby – a fact he believes impossible as he still thinks he is Eclipso.
Page 19 – Panel 5: Bruce picks up something that’s going to come in handy soon.
Page 20 – Panel 2: The diamond leads him to a pawn shop where he finds . . .
Page 20 – Panel 9: . . . the murdered pawn broker.
Page 21 – Panel 2: The pawn broker’s wife runs away from Bruce. The purple border around the speech balloons obviously show the reader that it’s Eclipso speaking but, from the lack of recognition from Bruce in the next few panels, it seems as though her voice doesn’t sound particularly different. Within the story, then, there’s no need for the purple border, and as a plot device it ruins the reveal on the next page.
Page 22 – Panels 2 and 3: The gizmo that Bruce picked up on Page 19 is revealed to be a flashlight . . . at least for the moment.
Page 22 – Panels 5 and 6: The woman calls him by name leading Bruce to stammer the name of his nemesis in disbelief.
Page 22 – Panel 7: The woman is revealed to be eclipsed (but we knew that from the speech balloons on the previous page) something which Bruce has never seen before.
Page 23 – Panel 2: As the woman collapses unconscious on to Bruce, note the black diamond peeking out from beneath his leg (and also the panel border)
Page 23 – Panel 5: Bruce is at a loss.
Page 24 – Panels 1 and 2: Bruce realises that someone other than himself can be eclipsed and that the flashlight he brought along somehow cured the woman.
Page 24 – Panels 3 and 4: Bruce’s belief that Eclipso is nothing more than his own evil half brought about by being scratched by a black diamond takes a fall when he sees . . .
Page 24 – Panel 6: . . . another black diamond!
Page 25 – Panel 3: This is Mona Bennett, Bruce’s long-term love who has shared in most of his misadventures featuring Eclipso.
Page 26 – Panels 1 to 3: Bruce comes to suspect that what he believed in the past has all been lies and misdirection on the part of Eclipso.
Page 26 – Panel 4: Mona verbalises the new regime regarding the black diamonds – that it now only takes physical contact to call up Eclipso.
Page 27 – Panel 2: Appearing behind Eclipso is the Phantom Stranger.
Page 27 – Panel 4: The Phantom Stranger claims he is “occupied elsewhere” which is why he’s only sent an astral image to warn Eclipso. I’ve done some hunting around and can’t find an explicit match for what the Stranger’s referring to; it may be his involvement in the Family Reunion storyline in Swamp Thing #125 but I can’t be certain.
Page 27 – Panel 5: In the background is the still eclipsed Lar Gand.
Page 27 – Panel 6: Eclipso uses an eye beam focused through a black diamond – this has long been his traditional method of attack.
Page 28 – Panels 2 to 4: Bruce and Mona travel to the diamond exchange district of New York to have the black diamonds looked at.
Page 28 – Panels 6 to 8: The jeweller is shocked to find two black diamonds together, but not necessarily by the fact that two exist.
Page 29 – Panels 5 to 7: The jeweller and his hastily arrived brothers reveal what they know of the diamond, telling Bruce and Mona that, according to the story, there are a thousand of these black diamonds in existence, each of which are capable of releasing Eclipso “whenever the owner of a black diamond becomes angry!”
Page 29 – Panel 9: Needless to say, the shock of a potential epidemic of Eclipsos is enough to make Bruce faint in shock.
Page 30 – Panels 2 to 4: The story takes a grim turn as an eclipsed survivalist shows up at the offices of TV station WHAM looking for the Creeper and indiscriminately shoots at the people who work there.
Page 31 – Panel 2: This is Jack Ryder, the Creeper’s alter-ego . . .
Page 31 – Panel 3: . . . who by means of pressing a device beneath the skin of his hand . . .
Pages 32 and 33 – Panel 1: . . . changes into the Creeper who then attacks the survivalist.
Page 35 – Panel 5: The survivalist holds a black diamond up to his eye, mimicking the real Eclipso’s attack method.
Page 36 – Panel 1: To great effect judging by the blast.
Page 37 – Panel 2: The Creeper knows that the gem is somehow connected to the survivalist’s powers.
Page 37 – Panel 4: Another panel where, at first glance, something seems odd – the positioning of the survivalist’s boot over the edge of the roof gives the impression he has grown huge rather than is flying.
Page 38 – Panels 1 to 3: To the Creeper’s surprise, the survivalist does indeed put down the black diamond, dropping it right in front of him.
Page 38 – Panel 4: Eclipso goads the Creeper into picking the diamond up, at the same time making him angry.
Page 38 – Panel 5: And as we’ve found out, someone who’s angry and in contact with a black diamond . . .
Page 39 – Panel 1: . . . becomes eclipsed. The Creeper becomes the second hero to fall, a test case for Eclipso to judge how easily he can possess the superheroes of Earth.
Page 39 – Panel 3: And he plans to begin with Superman.
Page 40 – Panel 5: Back on the moon, Eclipso mentions being “all-powerful” prior to being banished which hints at an origin over and above the old evil-half-of-Bruce story that’s been used in years gone by.
Page 41: This beam of black light will, presumably, come into play in the crossover issues.
Page 42 – Panel 1: We’re back with Bruce and Mona and, standing to the right, is Simon Bennett, Mona’s father.
Page 42 – Panel 3: Bruce refers to Boston and the incident with the survivalist; obviously he never found a black diamond because, unknown to him, the Creeper took it.
Page 43 – Panels 2 and 3: Bruce reveals he’s used the two black diamonds to create a tracking compass which will allow him to find any other black diamond.
Page 44 – Panels 2 and 3: In the Metropolis mall, Bruce’s new tracker is shown to work, pointing towards one of the diamonds.
Page 45 – Panel 1: Bruce narrows it down to two boys, one of whom is playing a video game called Rage-Boy.
Page 45 – Panel 3: The kid who’s been pushed off the game mentions having a “lucky stone” – I wonder what he could be referring to?
Page 45 – Panel 4: The kid clutches his “lucky stone” while wishing he could get revenge on the bigger kid.
Page 45 – Panel 6: Bruce realises that Eclipso is “summoned by feelings of rage and revenge” which was pretty much what the jewellers told him back in New York.
Page 45 – Panel 7: Rather than eclipse the boy himself, Eclipso has him vomit up his rage into . . .
Page 46 – Panel 1: . . . a monster from a video game.
Page 46 – Panels 3 to 5: Bruce grabs a camera from his bag and takes a shot, expecting Eclipso to disappear with the flash of light as he always has done in the past.
Page 47 – Panels 1 and 2: This time, however, Eclipso simply shrugs it off and hurls Gordon through the arcade window.
Page 47 – Panel 3: And as we’re in Metropolis, it should come as no surprise to get a shot of the Daily Planet building in which we find . . .
Page 47 – Panel 4: . . . Clark Kent, writing up a story on the survivalist attack in Boston.
Page 47 – Panel 6: Kent is alerted to the videogame battle by a co-worker and before you can say “mild mannered reporter” has changed into . . .
Page 48 – Panel 1: . . . Superman.
Page 49 – Panel 3: Superman arrives and approaches the eclipsed video game creature.
Page 50 – Panel 2: Superman is more than a little conscious of the innocent civilians around.
Page 51 – Panels 1 to 3: Realising the camera flashbulbs have no effect, Bruce reveals he’s brought along a flare gun.
Page 51 – Panel 2: And Eclipso informs us why he can’t eclipse Superman – he’s lost track of the black diamond the kid had.
Page 52 – Panel 1: Bruce fires the flare gun to little effect.
Page 52 – Panel 2: Eclipso realises Bruce has black diamonds on his person – he can use those to eclipse Superman.
Page 52 – Panels 3 and 4: In a last ditch attempt, Bruce fires the experimental weapon he used in the pawn shop.
Page 53 – Panels 1 to 3: And what do you know, that new weapon works, expelling Eclipso completely.
Page 53 – Panel 5: Bruce realises that the kid still has the black diamond and could release Eclipso again.
Page 54 – Panels 2 and 3: The difference between the flashbulbs, the flare gun and the new weapon is that the new weapon utilises actual sunlight.
Page 54 – Panel 5: And Bruce realises Eclipso has been toying with him all these years, simply pretending to be affected by other light sources.
Page 55 – Panels 3 to 5: Back on the moon, Eclipso confirms Bruce’s suspicions that it’s solar energy that is his weakness and the reason he’s been pretending other light affects him is to stymie the development of solar power. Now, though, he’s going to have to deal with Bruce “once and for all!”
Page 56: And he’s not scared of dealing with Superman either.
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