Eclipso Pt. 1: House of Secrets #61
It is a happy day as officials and a cheerful throng listen to Prof. Simon Bennett at the dedication of the world’s first community to be run on the sun’s limitless energy…
Nearby, Dr. Bruce Gordon tells his fiancée, Mona, that he must finish some last-minute adjustments, or “Solar City” will never get dedicated.
Then, as shuddering waves rack him, a fantastic change begins to sweep over his features… his very brain… With demonic directness, the transformed scientist moves to a locker, and…
Bruce uses the black diamond to wreak havoc at the dedication and destroy Solar City. Later, Mona’s father, Professor Bennett confronts him.
Bruce tells Prof. Bennett about his recent trip to Diablo Island to photograph a solar eclipse. There he received a warning:
If you try to capture the sun god’s image when he is dark, he will destroy us in anger!
Mophir raises the black diamond to protect him from Bruce. He then lunges. When Bruce sidesteps, Mophir falls over the cliff… but not before the diamond cuts him.
This development also wreaks havoc in Bruce’s love life…
With an eclipse of the moon due in three weeks, Bruce and Prof. Bennett start work to prevent “Eclipso” from taking over his body and brain again.
On the day of the eclipse, Bruce is locked inside a wind tunnel “which even a photon of external light cannot penetrate!” Alas, it does, though. When Prof. Bennett releases him, Eclipso lunges at him.
It seems that Bruce somehow rigged an explosion in case Eclipso escaped and turned the tables on Prof. Bennett…
I first became familiar with Eclipso during the post-crisis crossover event that took place throughout DC’s 1992 annuals. The event was bookended by issues number one and two of Eclipso: The Darkness Within, from which sprang the 18-issue (plus an Annual) series, Eclipso. However, the character first appeared nearly 30 years earlier, his origin story shared in graphic detail right here!
I’ve never read Eclipso’s pre-Crisis stories, either in the 20-issue run in House of Secrets during the mid-1960s, or the 21-issue run in Green Lantern during the mid-1980s. So, we’re starting a journey together that will take us the good part of a year, with some side visits into the pages of The Brave & the Bold, Justice League of America, Metal Men, and Adventure Comics.
DC Comics began publishing a companion series to House of Mystery (first issue cover dated Dec./Jan. 1951) in late 1956. Like House of Mystery, House of Secrets (first issue cover dated Nov./Dec. 1956) was an anthology featuring short stories of mystery, fantasy and horror.
House of Secrets #23 introduced the character of Mark Merlin, a supernatural detective created by Mort Meskin. He eventually became Prince Ra-Man in House of Secrets #73, but when Eclipso debuted in House of Secrets #61, each had his own feature and I bet we’ll discover that they eventually crossed paths before this era of the title temporarily ended with issue #80.
Eclipso’s introduction was announced in the bottom right-hand corner on a cover of House of Secrets that featured Mark Merlin and teased, “Mark Merlin Battles Doctor 7, King of the Supernatural.”
The “science” of Eclipso is explained in two simple panels of House of Secrets #61:
Eclipso appeals to me for a couple reasons. First, I’m drawn to Jekyll-Hyde-like characters… those that have a good and evil side and can play tricks on the other when the dominant one (at any given time) emerges. I also like the aesthetics of a face half-covered in blue, like a partial eclipse.
We don’t know much at this point about how his adventures will unfold; however, I have a feeling that Bruce Gordon will usually be cleaning up Eclipso’s messes and/or trying to prevent them before they happen. The concept could create some complexity that keeps the stories from getting repetitive and stale. I don’t know yet, but we’ll soon see…
Title: House of Secrets
Issue #: 61
Cover Date: Jul/Aug 1963
On Sale Date: May 16, 1963
Writer: Bob Haney
Artist: Lee Elias
Editor: Murray Boltinoff