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Eclipso Pt. 10: Justice League of America #109 & Metal Men #48-49


Title: Justice League of America

Issue #: 109

Cover Date: Jan/Feb 1974

On Sale Date: Oct. 2, 1973

Writer: Len Wein

Artist: Dick Dillin

Inker: Dick Giordano

Editor: Julius Schwartz

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The Doom of the Divided Man

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Hawkman summons the team to the satellite to announce that he’s leaving the Justice League, when suddenly Bruce Gordon arrives with a damaged Red Tornado. Tornado explains that his human alter ego, “John Smith” took a job as Gordon’s lab assistant. Two-thirds through an experiment in controlled light transmission, circuits began to overload…

After telling the team that he is also the “split-faced arch-fiend,” Bruce tells a brief version of his origin story and explains that his latest experiment released three times the menace upon the earth – “three Eclipsos for the prices of one!”

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Batman demonstrates why he’s the world’s greatest detective with his quick assessment of the situation:

With Gordon’s vague memories of three plans Eclipso conceived earlier, the JLA divides into three teams and selects three destinations. He wishes them good luck, then says:

If you don’t conquer Eclipso, the death of a world will be on my hands!

The Atom and Black Canary, with an assist from Aquaman, capture one of the Eclipsos at a secret pollution research lab hidden on the ocean’s floor.

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Batman and The Flash, capture the second Eclipso at G-Lab, one of three structures dedicated to eradicating the various forms of pollution that poison the sea, soil, and sky of our planet.

(We’re reminded that Batman met Eclipso in The Brave & the Bold #64.)

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We join Hawkman, Green Arrow, and Elongated Man’s battle in progress with the third Eclipso.

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Shortly, in JLA H.Q…

Batman anticipated the situation and that it would take a light three times as powerful to stop Eclipso, then altered the villain’s own black diamond to do it.

Title: Metal Men

Issue #: 48

Cover Date: Oct/Nov 1976

On Sale Date: July 8, 1976

Plotter: Gerry Conway

Scripter: Martin Pasko

Artist: Walter Simonson

Editor: Gerry Conway


Who is Bruce Gordon & Why is He Doing Those Terrible Things to Himself?

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Isabel Sullivan and Johanna Rome burst in with distraught Mona Bennet. After recapping Eclipso’s origin story for another team that may not be familiar with the arch-villain, Mona explains what happened. During an experiment to “burn out” Eclipso forever…

So, the Metal Men’s saucer flies to West Germany. Mona explains that centuries ago, a small party of Spanish conquistadors discovered a lost city in Peru, and a series of parchments bearing strange writing. These parchments were burned as heretical documents by the Spanish inquisition, but one was stolen by a rebellious monk, who fled to Gottingen.

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The Metal Men encounter Eclipso, but he escapes…

They then travel to the Andes where they anticipate Eclipso’s arrival:

Soon after, Mona is able to ignite a white-hot burst from a welding torch to banish Eclipso and return Bruce. But not for long… As a hemisphere of sunlight is obscured by the hovercraft’s hull — a shadow falls on Bruce and Eclipso emerges once again.

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He reads a ritual of some kind… a prayer to the same sun-god that Mophir worshipped.

I have set in motion forces which no mortal – or metal – may avert! For now… Umbra awakens!

Title: Metal Men

Issue #: 49

Cover Date: Dec/Jan 1976

On Sale Date: Sept. 21, 1976

Plotter: Walter Simonson

Writer: Martin Pasko

Artist: Walter Simonson

Editor: Paul Levitz


The Dark God Cometh

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In the aftermath of the last issue, chaos ensues. It’s time for the Metal Men to go into full combat mode against Eclipso…

The Metal Men form a makeshift magnifying glass and use it to bombard Eclipso with a bright, intense light that brings the return of Bruce Gordon. Then they take a momentary detour to search for other artifacts in the cave where Eclipso found the tablet.

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It isn’t long before the giant, Umbra, returns…

It takes everyone, including Eclipso (who has somehow returned), to stop Umbra:

On the way home, Doc Magnus speculates:

Now that Umbra’s locked up for good – and the tablet which can free him is destroyed… maybe Eclipso is gone for good, too!

Notes

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Seven years and three months later after Eclipso’s adventures unceremoniously ended in House of Secrets #80, he makes a triumphant return in Justice League of America #109… continuity intact, not only with Eclipso, but with other characters and ongoing storylines.

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For example, we’re reminded that in Justice League of America #106, we saw a woman named Kathy Sutton find Red Tornado his job as Dr. Gordon’s lab assistant:

from Justice League of America #106

One of the fun things about seeing a favorite character out of the comfort of his own book is that the story is obligated to re-tell his origin for readers unfamiliar with that character. This makes me wonder if there’s an unwritten rule that a character’s origin story must be simple enough that it can be told in a minimum number of panels.

Almost three years later, when Eclipso next appeared (in the pages of Metal Men #48), Mona tells her version of the origin for another new audience:

While we're here, I've got say I love Walt Simonson's art in these two issues of Metal Men! I haven't read much Metal Men, but his style seems to suit the characters. In some cases, it's not super-detailed, but I like the simplification of his lines and it's impressive how he delivers emotion with fewer of them. Plus, his Eclipso is awesome!

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I'm not as thrilled with the story in these two issues of Metal Men. It gets a little complicated in #49. To be a little less kind, it goes off the rails in #49. This interrupted the flow for me and I was compelled to skim to the end, experiencing the broad strokes of the battle with Umbra.

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It's not all bad and includes one of my favorite Eclipso panels ever. Martin Pasko's action may have gotten out of control, but not his words. They are uniquely descriptive and, paired with Walt Simonson's gorgeous art, the panel is sublime:


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