Eclipse Volume One by Zack Kaplan with artwork by Giovani Timpano and Chris Northrop is the first instalment in a hard science-fiction, post-apocalyptic comic book series. The story is set in a universe where an enigmatic solar event has transformed all of the sun’s light into deadly sacrificial rays. The few survivors that remain, reside within cities which are entirely nocturnal. Within this setting, a killer arises using the sunlight as a vicious weapon to burn his victims. When his next target is the daughter of a highly influential mogul, her safety falls upon the shoulders of a embittered solar engineer.
When I finished reading this comic, I decided to check out the reviews for it and it made me feel a little saddened. This comic is the author’s first, and while there were some small elements that could have been fleshed out more, I thought it was a rather excellent way to begin. It highlights his storytelling potential, as well as the potential for the way science can play a part to this series as it unfolds. Suffice to say, I fucking loved it and find it difficult to believe it’s a first.
The story opens with a brutal murder which is made evident by the burned corpse and the Bible verses painted in blood not too far away from him. This scene immediately grabbed my attention—along with the stunning artwork I can’t wait to talk about—and made me extremely curious to see how things would play out. It felt like someone hit me with a right hook dripping in suspense and it felt glorious.
The murder mystery, so to speak, seems to be the first minor arc of the narrative and is implied to play into a much larger scheme. I liked that this arc was introduced and wrapped up in this first trade edition (four standard comic issues). There weren’t any nasty cliff-hangers. I like feeling satisfied when I close a comic book, especially where there are other things that I know will bring me back to it in the future.
The reasoning behind the crime is a marvellous portrayal of what this extreme tragedy can do to a person’s mental state of being. Some individuals are better at handling dangerous and disbelieving events, usually by drowning in denial and unhealthy mental stimulation. But the ones that cannot process the depth of such loss and calamity, lose their minds and compensate in horrifying ways. The messages (pun not intended) that go hand-in-hand with the crimes appealed to me tremendously from a psychological perspective.
The premise of the sun’s rays being this deadly part of life that forces the human population to change their entire society into a nocturnal one was very imaginative and special. While I’ve read stories that have skated on similar ideas, they were never quite like this. There aren’t many scientific explanations about the situation, at least nothing in scrupulous and fine detail, but I’m hoping those bits shall be revealed as the comic progresses because I’m dying to know more about it. The physics and astronomy and other sciencey parts of my brain is fucking fascinated by it.
Now, let’s talk about my favourite aspect: the artwork. There are colour palettes of yellows and soft orange to depict the treacherous ambiance and scope of the sun’s threatening rays, which is then contrasted by blues and purples to showcase the transition into nocturnal existences. The use of lighting is a brilliant form of symbolism and foreshadowing. The art-style itself is classic and beautifully cinematic thanks to the painted undertones that create the foundation for the saturated highlights and exposure. It’s assiduously orchestrated to construct a visually stunning complement to the narrative.
The lettering is unique as well. The dialogue boxes have an appearance that’s akin to a super fine sharpie pen that presents a personal, almost memoir-esque overtone to the story’s revelation. Sound effects and action lettering are bold yet muted to further correlate with the subdued spirit of the artistry. It prevents those respective scenes from feeling unwantedly, or unnecessarily obnoxious. It’s quite esoteric and fits the genre superbly.
All in all, Eclipse Volume One was a fantastic first comic, furthermore a fabulous first instalment. I picked it up on a whim at the library and discovered a treat to keep my eye on for future releases. If you are a fan of hard science-fiction that is gritty, dark, and original, then I recommend that you test out Eclipse Volume One for sure! I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
4.5 icesuits outta 5!