By Zack Kaplan, Giovanni Timpano and Chris Northrop
The new Top Cow series, Eclipse, made a decent impact last summer as a miniseries, but after high sales and a lot of critical praise, the publisher decided to turn the book into an ongoing series. Now, with the conclusion of the first arc, Volume One hits stands and fans can finally get their hands on what amounts to a fantastic single read.
Creator and writer Zack Kaplan makes his comic book debut with Eclipse, and after his initial success, we can only hope to see more work by him in the future. Eclipse is charming, exciting, and imaginative in a way that should make all of us Earthlings cringe even just a little. It’s a murder mystery with a unique twist and an overarching threat that sets up a conceptual premise, which could be harvested for new ideas for a long time to come. The idea for Eclipse makes it obvious why the series is now ongoing, but Kaplan does more than just write the story, he cares for the world he has created. Through detail, nuance and finessing characters both primary and secondary, you can’t help but get the impression that Kaplan is dedicated to the core of his story and the essence of his idea. That can only mean he was in it for the book and not the success. Again, it’s no wonder the series is taking off.
Of course it doesn’t hurt to have a remarkably artistic collaborator like Giovanni Timpano on board. He’s handled such properties as Lone Ranger and Green Hornet, so he’s no stranger to comics and provides a professional touch that directly contributes to Eclipse’s success. It’s as much Timpano’s book as anyone’s and you don’t have to read more than the first few pages to see his level of dedication is as pure as it could be. Timpano’s talented illustrations have got to be motivation for Zack Kaplan as the world grows and the story progresses, although it’s not that easy to see where one creator stops and the other begins. There’s a distinct style to Eclipse evident in every single panel that lets readers know this isn’t one man’s vision or a conveyor belt like process where one guy wipes his hands clean while turning it over to the next guy on down the line. No, this is a true team effort and it really shows.
The world of Eclipse is in jeopardy, to put it mildly, and no one is safe thanks to an intense solar flare from the Sun. On top of that, there’s a murderer on the loose seemingly unaffected by the harmful light of day. Through dialogue and images you can see the world is decayed, scared, scarred and volatile. Nothing is for certain and one wrong step could turn someone into a pile of ash. Colorist Chris Northrop uses pale yellows and tinged palettes that create a sense that everything has been, or is being, steadily burned. By leaving large areas of pure white, Northrop conveys hot spots and flash points that look more blinding than unfinished. It’s a considered approach, and a great trick that works very well here. But, when the story literally goes underground, the colors and drawings, though cooler and apparently safer, create a sort of claustrophobia. People live in cramped quarters, packed together as far from the sun as they can be. In those situations it’s entirely possible that humans can continue to be their own worst enemy and we can only imagine what sort of drama will come from those living conditions in future issues.
In a world where everyone is desperately trying to go about their business in a normal manner, there are definitely inherent challenges to living at night and avoiding the daylight. It’s unnatural for one thing, but lucky for us, it’s also creating some very entertaining drama and action perfect for comics. It’s well worth your time and, with a cover price like this, well worth you money. The back of the trade is jammed full of supplemental features with tons of process art complete with commentary and notes. You really get all the insight you could want from Timpano’s layouts, pencils and sketches as well as Northrop’s coloring techniques. It’s actually very revealing and further proof that this is a winning team capable of strategy, planning, and management all on top of being creative talents who have earned their success.