Bruce Gordon is an instance of the Eclipso character archetype.
Doctor Bruce Gordon
When we first encounter Bruce Gordon he is already the world’s leading authority on solar energy technology. His mentor and best-friend is Professor Simon Bennett. Together they have a reputation as international scientific trouble shooters and are consulted by Presidents and Parliaments on all manner of problems. Bruce is engaged to Bennett’s daughter Mona who frequently accompanies them on their adventures (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #61-80). Dr Gordon appears to be a freelance scientist, but he has alluded to a teaching or university based career in the past. His most promising student was Kitty Faulkner who went on to have her own high-profile career with STAR Labs (Starman #42-45). Bruce Gordon has also been nominated for a Nobel (Countdown to Mystery #5). The system must work differently in the DCU as Nobel nominations or short-lists are never released to the public in our world.
Bruce Gordon was still researching basic science when he travelled to Diablo Island to photograph a total eclipse of the Sun. The inhabitants of Diablo Island were warned away from Gordon by their seer Mophir, but Gordon assured them that there was no danger from his equipment. Mophir became angry and confronted Gordon, threatening him his a mysterious black diamond that he claimed had fallen out of the sky. They struggled and Gordon was cut by the diamond. Their tussle ended when, in the half-light of the eclipse, Mophir fell to his death over a precipice. The local tribesmen were grateful to be free of Mophir’s tyranny and gave his personal artefacts, including his costume and Black Diamond, to Gordon (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #61).
Gordon and Bennett’s crowning achievement was meant to have been the Solar City, an entire community powered by solar technology. Dignitaries and the public had gathered for Bennett’s opening speech while Gordon finished up a few last-minute adjustments. However, while he was alone something strange and new overcame Gordon. A solar eclipse far away in the South Pacific had triggered Gordon’s transformation into a homicidal genius calling himself Eclipso. Gordon’s own personality and visage were literally eclipsed by Eclipso’s domineering possession. He donned Mophir’s costume and used the cold black light given off by the black diamond to sabotage Solar City. Bennett saw Eclipso transform back into Gordon although Gordon retained no memory of the incident (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #61 (July-August 1963)).
Knowing that an eclipse – any eclipse – anywhere in the world could trigger Eclipso’s appearance plagued Bruce Gordon. Professor Bennett endeavoured to help him as they searched for a way to contain Eclipso. They tried isolating him in a vault (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #61) and even deep beneath the ocean (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #62) to no avail. Things got even worse when it turned out that metaphorical or simulated eclipses, something as simple as an eclipsing spotlight, could trigger the transformation (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #63). The slim advantage that Gordon had was that Eclipso was a creature of shadow and darkness and could be driven back or vanquished by even modest bursts of intense light.
Bruce Gordon Versus Eclipso
From his laboratory beneath the ruins of Solar City Bruce Gordon began to plan for Eclipso’s return. The villain would reappear time and time again match wits with Gordon. They would try so second guess each others plans for the next eclipse and to lay their own contingency plans in the event of their defeat. Despite Gordon’s successes he was unable to discover that Eclipso hid his costume and the now infamous black diamond near the lab’s atomic reactor. The infamy of Eclipso’s anarchist attacks and his fleeting ghost-like public appearances soon spread. The corrupt wanted to associate themselves with him while the foolish wanted to make money off of his boogeyman image. The public even caught on and there were Eclipso themed fair rides (House of Secrets (vol. 1) # 65), carnival floats (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #69), he appeared on magazine covers (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #70), and people even dressed up as him for Halloween (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #78).
Bruce Gordon was engaged to Mona Bennett, Professor Bennett’s daughter, and they were to have announced their engagement at the same time that Solar City was opened. However, Gordon’s possession by Eclipso forced him to continually postpone fixing a date for their marriage. He kept telling Mona that he needed to finish some project or other before he was ready to marry. She loved him dearly and knew that there was something that Bruce and her father were not telling her. She even took a secretarial job in his research institute to prove that she could fit into his scientific world (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #61-63).
Mona thought that it was fun to take Gordon to “Eclipso’s House of Evil” at the local amusement park, but she wasn’t prepared for when Bruce was transformed into Eclipso by another simulated eclipse. The villain tried to kidnap her, but a momentary flash of light caused him to revert to Bruce again. Afterwards Mona told him that “I don’t care, now that I know the truth! I love you and will stick by you.” (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #65).
Many of Bruce Gordon’s experiments were designed to separate himself from Eclipso or to turn Eclipso’s power good, but they nearly always ended in failure. Eventually Gordon returned to Diablo Island to re-examine Eclipso’s origins. Mona, Professor Bennett, and Bruce checked every possible thing about the island’s vegetation, soil, and air, but could discover no discernible scientific explanation for Eclipso’s appearances. The only alteration to their relationship that Gordon achieved was to cause Eclipso to manifest as an entirely separate body when he appeared (House of Secret (vol. 1) #67).
The world at large knew nothing of the Bruce Gordon / Eclipso link and both of them preferred to keep it that way. The dashing Mike Cooper, an international private eye, was tracing a criminal group led by Eclipso until the trail led him to Bruce Gordon. Luckily Gordon was able to defeat Eclipso without arousing Cooper suspicions (House of Secret (vol. 1) #69). Eclipso and Gordon were forced to collaborate when Eclipso was captured by the police and blackmailed Gordon into helping his escape (House of Secret (vol. 1) #71). They also had to cooperate again when Eclipso’s Sea Titan proved too deadly (House of Secret (vol. 1) #73).
Allies in the battle
Eclipso’s plans appear to shift over time from simple nihilism and extortion to an acknowledgement that he his to deal with Bruce Gordon and his own weaknesses – the sun. His possessions of Bruce Gordon become rarer, but each appearance is grander. It also seems that Eclipso begins to out strip Bruce Gordon’s ability to fight him on his own and Gordon has to resort to teaming up with a succession of superheroes and superhero teams. The real world reason behind this that he was now just a guest in somebody else’s comic and it was up to the host to defeat Eclipso and not Bruce Gordon. The poor bloke is made to look quite useless at times.
After the obscure Prince-Ra Man (House of Secret (vol. 1) #76, 79), the first major superhero to battle Eclipso was Batman. A criminal gang framed Batman for their own crimes and then tried to recruit Eclipso as their real agent. Needless to say the Dark Knight was able to prove his innocence and return Eclipso to Bruce Gordon’s care (Brave and the Bold (vol. 1) #64 (Feb-March 1966)). Bruce Gordon finally believed he had created a method to keep Eclipso imprisoned even during a total eclipse (Justice League of America (vol. 1) #109 (Jan-Feb 1974)).
Gordon tried to continue with his non-Eclipso work and advertised for a laboratory assistant. In doing so he unwittingly recruited John Smith – the alter ego of the Justice League’s Red Tornado (Justice League of America (vol. 1) #106 (July-Aug 1973)). After several months it became clear that Bruce Gordon’s “Eclipso cure” was causing him horrible pain as Eclipso fought to get out. Bruce Gordon and John Smith tried to create a fix for the cure, but their machine exploded and created three duplicate Eclipsos. The overwhelmed Gordon turned to the League for help. However, the Eclipso triplets tricked the League by merging into one massive Eclipso. It was in turn tricked by Batman who booby-trapped its triple black diamond (Justice League of America (vol. 1) #109 (Jan-Feb 1974)).
[canon ref="Pre-COIE Earth-1"]
Will Magnus was a fellow scientist of Bruce Gordon’s calibre and the inventor of the fabulous Metal Men (a team of living metal heroes). He became involved with the fight against Eclipso via his psychiatric therapist Isobel Sullivan. She knew Mona Bennett and put her in contract with Magnus after Bruce turned into Eclipso and vanished. Mona, Magnus, and the Metal Men followed Eclipso to Germany, Peru, and then to Diablo Island where he was trying to awaken an ancient god-alien called Umbra. The Metal banished Umbra by focusing a laser beam on its forehead jewel. The Metal Men then made sure that nobody else could awaken it again (Metal Men #48-49 (Oct-Nov 1976 — Dec-Jan 1977)).
In the original telling of this story the Black Diamond that created the Eclipso personality within Bruce Gordon was actually a shard of a jewel Umbra wore on its forehead.
Rather than completely imprison Eclipso within his body Bruce Gordon tried to destroy him with an altered form of ultra-violet light. However, his process only reversed the status quo and Eclipso became the primary body. Bruce Gordon almost faded away before he, Simon, and Mona prevented Eclipso from making the arrangement permanent (Adventure Comics #457-458 (May-June – July-Aug 1978)).
Later Bruce Gordon took a job working for Carol Ferris and Ferris Aircraft developing a new type of “solar jet”. Ferris’s on/off boyfriend was the superhero Green Lantern (Hal Jordan, a test pilot for Ferris). He knew about Eclipso, but had been absent when he fought the Justice League. Neither of them were aware that Eclipso had rigged Gordon’s wrist watch with a post-hypnotic beam that woke Gordon each night so that Eclipso could work on a secret project hidden on the Ferris Aircraft facility. It was a satellite (his “Murder Moon”) staffed by shadow creatures “nega-minions”) which he hoped to used to create a permanent reoccurring eclipse. Green Lantern fought Eclipso, but the villain appeared to be was sucked into space after he separated from Bruce Gordon (Green Lantern #136-139 (Jan-April 1981)).
Gordon returned to working on the Solar Jet for Ferris Aircraft and it was eventually readied for its first test flight. Hal Jordan was meant to have test piloted the Jet, but he was jumped by his colleague Richard Davis who was desperate to prove his abilities. So it was Davis on-board the Jet when a vast black beam caused it to vanish into out of the skies. By this time Hal Jordan had been replaced as Green Lantern by John Stewart and it was Stewart who pursed Eclipso when his Murder Moon satellite kidnapped Gordon. While Stewart fought the Murder Moon’s weapon systems the Predator vigilante went on-board. Gordon managed to save Davis and got him to take the Solar Jet out of Eclipso’s way, but the stain was too much for the poor man’s heart and he died after landing. Eclipso appeared to be vaporised by his own laser beam (Green Lantern #183-186 (Dec 1984 – March 1985))
- Retcon: Eclipso isn’t just a “split-personality” created in Dr Bruce Gordon by the Black Diamond. He is now an entirely separate entity – the spirit of wrath – the predecessor to the Spectre.
- Retcon: The Black Diamond is one of a thousand identical shards of the true Heart of Darkness.
The Darkness Within
Kitty Falconer, Bruce’s former student, was working for STAR Labs when she requested his aid in studying the unstable powers of the solar-powered hero Starman. Gordon had taken a small craft into space to help analyse Starman’s powers when a chance alignment caused Eclipso to manifest. Eclipso claimed to have created the energy beam which empowered Starman so as to turn him into a living battery he could use against his enemies. Eclipso then got into a three-way battle between Starman and Lobo on the moon’s surface before heading off to threaten Kitty. He was finally dispelled with Power Girl’s help – she held him down and Starman irradiated him with a burst of sunlight (Starman #42-45).
After many battles with Bruce Gordon Eclipso admitted to himself that “by keeping Earth’s pre-eminent solar scientist off-balance I’ve managed to stall by decades the development of solar energy”. Nevertheless, Bruce’s victories increasingly featured super-heroes and Eclipso became convinced that they might prove a better source of “bodies” than the non-powered Bruce. This was about the same time that Gordon became aware of the existence of other black diamonds and manifestations of Eclipsos separate from his own. He began tracing the diamonds and discovered the legend of the “Heart of Darkness”. In rapid succession Gordon and Mona made progress on penetrating Eclipso’s ruses and various bluffs that he had thrown at them. It was sunlight and only sunlight — either direct or specially stored — that was Eclipso’s vulnerability. The black diamonds were harmless until the possessor was overcome by feelings of anger or vengeance and at that point Eclipso’s power would overwhelm them and they would become an Eclipso – literally another body for the central Eclipso consciousness that had always remained imprisoned in his lunar palace (Eclipso: The Darkness Within #1).
After Eclipso tried to eclipse Superman and Rampage (Kitty Falconer’s alter ego) Bruce Gordon deduced that Eclipso was planning something big (Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #1). Gotham City became a nucleus of black diamond activity. By the time that Bruce Gordon’s quest took him there Batman had already discovered another gem and a third landed into the hands of his ally Commissioner Gordon (Detective Comics Annual #5, Robin Annual #1, Batman Annual #16). The appearance of yet another black diamond revealed town called Crater Bay from where Eclipso had been working for years to spread his black diamonds across the Eastern USA. Bruce Gordon, Mona Bennett, and Lois Lane found that an entire town of Eclipsos was more than they could handle. Superman managed to save Lois, but Mona was eclipsed. Gordon freed the town by returning with a massive version of one of his solar traps (Superman Annual #4, Action Comics Annual #4).
It was becoming clear that Eclipso was creating his own team of eclipsed superheroes so Bruce Gordon disappeared and quietly began assembling his own team of scientists to rapidly prototype and perfect the solar trap technology (flash-lights which held captured sunlight). To the outside world it looked like the scientists were vanishing, but the ruse was necessary to prevent detection. His team included Ted Kord (the Blue Beetle, Justice League America Annual #6), Emil Hamilton, Lex Luthor (Action Comics Annual #4), Green Lantern Kilowog (Justice League Europe Annual #3), Will Magnus, Chuck, Zena Moonstruck, and others. The disappearances were noticed by Superman and he recruited Nightwing to investigate. Superman followed Nightwing’s suggestion to an abandoned Planetarium and discovered Magnus’s group (Adventures of Superman Annual #4). Bruce Gordon’s strike team attacked Eclipso’s Lunar Palace and freed the eclipsed heroes. The furious Eclipso tried kill the the fleeing heroes, but Starman broke free from him and destroyed the Palace in a massive blast of solar energy (Eclipso the Darkness Within #2).
Bruce Gordon had become obsessed with Eclipso and hadn’t left his Manhattan apartment since Eclipso’s defeat. He was roused from his passivity when he instinctively recognised Eclipso’s hand behind the overthrow of the Paradorian government. The Justice League and the US’s Sarge Steel were hesitant to get involved with the Latin American country so Gordon was left on his own. He needed to recruit and train his own strike team. His first volunteer was the Creeper (a hero who had been one the first eclipsed during Eclipso’s last scheme). They relocated to a Caribbean Island where they were met by Amanda Waller. She agreed to get them into Parador and called in a favour from Cave Carson who agreed to act as their guide through Parador’s extensive cave systems. Carson, Gordon, Mona, and the Creeper made their way through the cave system, but it was a trap. Bruce and Mona were taken for a “tour” of the nightmare that Parador had become before Eclipso “allowed” them to escape (Eclipso #1-6)
Amanda Waller wasn’t impressed with the fiasco of the Parador mission, but couldn’t ignore Eclipso’s poisoning of the cocaine shipments. They needed money for their underground war and Waller decided to take the ransom offered by a drug baron whose daughter was being help by in Eclipso’s Parador. (Eclipso #9) Waller’s new team of “Shadow Fighters” was led by Bruce Gordon and Mona and included the Creeper, Peacemaker, Commander Steel, Major Victory, Manhunter, Chuck, the second Wildcat, and the second Doctor Midnight. The master of disguise Nemesis helped get them in and for once it looked like they were winning, but the sheer number of Eclipso’s pawns overwhelmed them. Even the child they were trying to save was killed by her own uncle. The only people to escape the actual mission were Bruce, Mona, and Nemesis while Creeper, Wildcat, Doctor Midnight, Commander Steel, Major Victory, and Manhunter were left dead in Parador (Eclipso #11-13).
Nemesis returned to Parador with Nightshade and retrieved the bodies of the dead heroes with the help of Chunk, Professor Bennett, and Will Magnus. However, Waller could no longer keep the mission quiet and there was an international outcry at the loss of so many superheroes. The UN Security council ordered the arrest of Amanda, Bruce Gordon, and Mona Bennett for their part in the operation. Many people including prominent members of the Justice League stood up in Bruce Gordon’s defence. Eclipso then appeared in person and demanded the defendants would be found guilty or he would let loose the nuclear missiles he had recently acquired. Eclipso’s threat only galvanized the UN and they unanimously cleared Bruce Gordon. They also sanctioned a multinational attempt to liberate Parador. With JLA assistance Gordon and Waller assembled a team that included the light bending hero Prism (a being created by Eclipso’s schemes) and an armoured Mona Bennett who was wearing anti-Eclipso armour created by her father (Eclipso #14-16). Eclipso’s eclipse of Parador was finally lifted when the Spectre appeared to reforge the Heart of Darkness (Eclipso #18)
The end of the Eclipso series is something of a mess and is contradicted by a number of later appearances – specifically that the Phantom Stranger was able to recover all the black diamonds and that Mona Bennett from pregnant. The were still enough diamonds around for Alex Montez to start gathering them into himself and we’ve never heard Mona’s pregnancy mention again. She was meant to have been pregnant with Henry Gordon, her son who becomes the time traveller which originally freed Eclipso in 1891. That particular plot line seems to have been put to one side.
Bruce Gordon was contacted by Alex Montez sometime after Eclipso was driven from Parador. Alex was the cousin of Yolanda Montez (Wildcat II), who was one of the heroes killed during the second failed mission of Parador. He was working as the curator of the JSA museum and discussed with Bruce ways of permanently ending Eclipso’s threat. Gordon believed that the JSA had found away to destroy Eclipso’s black diamonds and began sending every diamond he could find to Montez. However, Montez had lied to Bruce and the JSA and was actually trying to imprison Eclipso within his own body by injecting himself with the crushed up diamonds that Gordon had found (JSA #26, 45).
Eclipso eclipsed Gordon and fought the JSA when Gordon tried to deliver the last diamond to Alex. During the fight Alex managed to seize the diamond and pulled Eclipso out of Gordon and into himself (“Princess of Darkness”, JSA #46-50). Bruce was furious that he had been lied to, but Alex was adamant that he want to try to put Eclipso’s power to good use. Tragically the glyphs binding Eclipso to Alex were broken during a fight and Alex threw himself off a building in the belief that his death would also kill Eclipso (JSA #56-58). Bruce Gordon raced to Kahndaq, but by the time he arrived the black diamond had vanished. He followed it through Greece to South America, but it was always one step ahead of him (Action Comics #826).
- Retcon: Heart of Darkness was created by Darkseid of Apokolips. It was he who captured Eclipso’s disembodied spirit and bound it to the gem.
Countdown to Mystery
Mona Bennett and Bruce Gordon were married sometime after their return from Parador and Gordon took a job working on solar temperature nuclear fusion research. However, the Department of Defence suspended his funding for blowing up a 15-billion dollar particle-accelerator. His career was in ruins and his workaholic lifestyle had alienated Mona who had left him six months previously. That night he had a visit from Detective Crispus Allen of Gotham City PD. Allen was a dead man and the current host of the Spectre. He escorted Gordon to a disused meta-human prison and forced him into a cell before telling him that something very bad was about to happen. At exactly that same moment Eclipso was ejected from his current host (Jean Loring). The power of Eclipso cast around in panic for something to anchor itself to and instinctively flowed into Bruce Gordon. Allen then explained that things could be different this time, Gordon could be in control. (Countdown to Mystery #1-4).
Allen showed Gordon that he now controlled Eclipso’s powers so long as he had not been eclipsed himself. However, Gordon knew that a similar belief had led to Alex Montez’s death. He wanted to throw the black diamond away, but that part of him which was still Eclipso wouldn’t let him do it. He was also told that if he used too much of that power he would summon Eclipso as surely as any eclipse. Gordon tried investigating an old Soviet science city he had heard about, but he was attacked by the mutants living there and while trying to defend himself he accidentally unleashed Eclipso. The villain slaughtered the mutants and K.O.’d the Spectre’s host – something he’d previously not had the power to do – and then went off on his merry why. When day broke Allen and Gordon awoke to find the city empty except for Mona who Eclipso had left as a “gift” for Bruce. (Countdown to Mystery #5)
Through Eclipso’s memories Gordon knew of the Black Diamond’s properties as a form of advanced technology from the New Gods of Apokolips. He was able to use a Soviet particle accelerator to subtly alter the diamonds atomic structure. Where Eclipso could use the diamond to eclipse people (as if they had one of the old Heart of Darkness shards), Gordon could equally use the diamond to free them. The old status quo between Eclipso and Bruce Gordon had been restored – albeit with a more equitable share in Eclipso’s superpowers. Eclipso was unwilling to simply suffer a return to the old ways and sought to reforge the Heart of Darkness using his worshippers in the Cult of Fury. The reforged Heart greatly enhanced Eclipso’s powers, but he was still using Bruce Gordon’s body. A conflict between the upgraded Eclipso and the Spectre threatened to destroy reality until the Spectre managed to reach Bruce Gordon and help him throw off Eclipso’s possession. With Eclipso contained Bruce Gordon and Mona resolved to make their marriage work (Countdown to Mystery #6-8) .