See the top level Eclipso profile for background information.
Eclipso’s origins are possibly even obscure to himself. By his own account he was either the “god of vengeance” or an agent of god’s wrath. Unlike the Spectre he was not bound to a human host and thus lacked the Spectre’s moral judgement. As Eclipso never judged even the pettiest of wrongs could be blown into uncompromisingly murderous vengeance. He delighted in the fear and violence that his bloody retribution wrought. The details of what happened next are disputed, but in all accounts Eclipso’s freedom was powerfully suppressed. His Earthly presence was bound to an enormous black diamond called the Heart of Darkness while the majority of his essence and power was banished from the Earth to the dark side of the Moon.
In one account it was the victims of Eclipso’s nihilist violence who rebelled and cast the powerful banishment spell against him (Eclipso #1). He has framed his origin in a Biblical context and has claimed to be the Spectre’s predecessor, the spirit of wrath rather than vengeance. In this version of events Eclipso was responsible for the Deluge which was sent by the Presence to wipe away mankind’s wickedness, but he over-stepped the his station and tried to kill even those promised safe passage by his creator. It was then Presence’s own will that banished him (Eclipso #10). In a third version of events told after the reformation of the Infinite Crisis it was Darkseid of Apokolips who bound Eclipso to the Heart of Darkness, a giant black diamond which was mined on Apokolips and fashioned to shape by Darkseid himself (Countdown to Mystery #1-8).
On the Moon Eclipso created a vast star shaped mansion palace built in the eternally shadowed pit of a deep crater. The Palace was both an extension of Eclipso and his abode. Sunlight was now a poison to him and he reminded himself of this by erecting a spire that poked into the sunlight. The constant pain he felt through it was a deliberate reminder of his exile and his own need for vengeance against the life which had banished him. Throughout his long exile Eclipso’s only visitor was the evil New God Darkseid. Their regular games of chess always ended in a draw. The purpose of these games was to keep each other under surveillance as only Eclipso knew the Anti-Life Equation and only Darkseid knew how to use it (Eclipso #4). They were two Kings who were too evenly matched to best one another, but who still desired to keep a close eye on each other (Eclipso #10).
The Splitting of the Heart of Darkness
The Heart of Darkness resided within a cave close to the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the Congo. It was left unguarded as the locals knew that it was cursed, that it seemed to attract evil, and sensibly avoided all contact with it. It was not until 1891 and the European expansion into Africa that two men, an unnamed Professor and an adventurer called Henry Gordon, foolishly sought the Heart. Upon finding it Gordon was overcome with greed and murdered his accomplice. He then smuggled the Heart of Darkness back to London and gave it to “The Moon Stone” jewellers. A flawless diamond that size was priceless, but it was also impossible to sell so Gordon ordered it to be cut into a thousand identical black diamonds. The jeweller later commented that he expected the carving to take months, but that the stone “seemed to fall apart of its own accord!”
By splitting the Heart the spell which had banished Eclipso to the dark side of the Moon was weakened, but not entirely dispelled. He could now “eclipse” (possess) a person holding one of the black diamonds if the holder gave in to feelings of rage or vengeance. It would appear as if a permanent shadow had passed across half their face. Eclipso would then possess their body or externalize their rage as a frightening monster plucked from their personal revenge fantasy. An eclipsed individual was almost invulnerable and by holding the black diamond to their eclipsed eye an “Eclipso” could send forth a powerful beam of black light capable of chilling the soul or rendering an immense force.
The first man to be eclipsed was a London judge whose wife had been raped and murdered. His thirst for vengeance over rode – or was at least humoured by Eclipso’s prime personality – and he cut a bloody swathe through the local prison until Eclipso discovered that sunlight dispelled his possession. Unfortunately for Judge Pendleton that sunlight came just as he was shot by the local police (Eclipso #7). His next possession was Irene Adler, the once lover of the King of Bohemia, and of the great consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. The eclipsed Adler killed her husband and the King of Bohemia before Holmes’s partner, Doctor John Watson, was himself eclipsed. Holmes deduced Eclipso’s weakness, but it took Adler’s suicide to end that particular case (Eclipso #8).
Henry Gordon sold over a hundred of the diamonds within the first week, but the rest were stolen from him by the men whom he had hired to silence the jeweller who had first split the diamond. From them the diamonds radiated and circulated through the channels of the English Empire and throughout the world of man. Henry Gordon was in fact a time traveller, the son of the noted 21st century physicist Bruce Gordon and his wife Mona Gordon (nee Bennett). Eclipso knew of Henry Gordon’s origin and also knew that he could not kill Bruce and Mona until after Henry had been born. For it was their deaths at Eclipso’s hand which prompted Henry to travel back in time in an effort to prevent his original release. Tragically the stress of the time travel triggered a severe case of schizophrenia in Henry and he ended up facilitating rather than stopping Eclipso’s release (Eclipso #10).
Eclipso vs. Bruce Gordon
[canon ref="Pre-COIE Earth-1"]
Eclipso was not the only entity banished from the mortal world. As some point in the ancient past a species or race of god-aliens attempted to control the Earth. A coven of white-magic users fought back and banished the god-aliens to extra-dimensional prisons locked beneath giant stone “demon-gates”. One of the god-aliens was called Umbra and claimed to be the god of darkness. Umbra was entombed behind a demon-gate on the floor of the Pacific Ocean near the coast of modern day Peru. Umbra’s servants survived as a native cult on an island near the gate. Monuments had been left in the Andes pointing to Umbra’s prison and there were texts that documented its location, but most of these were lost after they were stolen by Spanish conquistadors and then burnt in the religions turmoil of the Inquisition. What the Spanish did leave as their name for the island – Diablo (“Devil”) Island (Metal Men #48-49 (Oct-Nov 1976 — Dec-Jan 1977)).
The last seer-priest of Umbra’s cult was a madman called Mophir. Umbra’s cult had gained possession of one Eclipso’s black diamond shards after it “fell out of the sky”. Bruce Gordon, Henry Gordon’s father, visited Diablo Island to photograph a total eclipse of the Sun, a time when the Earth’s moon would pass in front of the Sun and completely blot out its light. Mophir warned the natives away from Gordon, but Gordon assured them that there was no danger from his equipment. Mophir then confronted Gordon. There was a struggle, but it ended when, in the half-light of the eclipse, Mophir fell to his death over a precipice. The natives were grateful to be freed from Mophir’s tyranny and gave his personal affects, including his costume and black diamond, to Gordon (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #61).
[canon ref="Post-Crisis Earth-0"]
Although 999 Black Diamonds were scattered across the globe Eclipso was cautious about playing his hand too publically or of drawing too much attention to his actual power. Those other eclipsed agents continued on his schemes or even just petty vengeance, but it was only through eclipsing Bruce Gordon that Eclipso was comfortable in being identified as the “Eclipso” (definite article). As Bruce Gordon was the father of the time traveller who had liberated Eclipso he had a vested interest in keeping Bruce and Bruce’s girlfriend (Mona Bennett) alive until after Henry was born. However, Bruce Gordon was also the leading authority on the one technology (solar science) capable of opposing Eclipso so he also had an interest in keeping him off-balance and under close scrutiny. Eclipso’s focus on Gordon has created a link between them that has never truly been broken (Eclipso: The Darkness Within #1).
Whereas Eclipso would eclipse any other diamond bearer in a moment of rage he appeared to only overcome Bruce Gordon at the moment of a solar or lunar eclipse. It didn’t matter where the eclipse was happening or if Gordon was even present to see it in Eclipso would still take him over. Years later Eclipso would claim that he was just playing with Bruce Gordon and that he was being eclipsed just like everybody else. It could be that having created the mental image of the eclipses Gordon was psychomatically enduring anger at Eclipso which then allowed himself to be eclipsed. This would also explain why synthetic eclipses could over come Gordon.
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 to continuously match wits with Gordon. Each time they would try so second guess the other’s 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 where Eclipso hid his costume and the black diamond. 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 bogeyman 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).
As Eclipso’s plans grew in scope Bruce Gordon found that he could no longer fight Eclipso alone. At first he allied himself with individual heroes like Prince Ra-Man (House of Secrets (vol. 1) #76, #79) and the Batman (Brave and the Bold (vol.1) #64), but eventually he need the help of entire superhero teams like the Justice League (Justice League of America (vol. 1) #109) and the Metal Men (Metal Men #48-49) in order to defeat Eclipso. Maybe Eclipso’s grandest scheme was his creation of a “Murder Moon”, a satellite designed to permanently block the Sun’s light. He twice used that weapon and was each time defeated by a Green Lantern – the first time by Green Lantern Hal Jordan (Green Lantern #136 ,138,139) and then by Green Lantern John Stewart (Green Lantern #183, 185, 189). The ladder of opposition eventually topped out at the Phantom Stranger when Eclipso tried to absorb a huge amount of mystical energy. However, he only managed to re-powered the Stranger and banished himself once more (Phantom Stranger (vol. 3) #1-4 (Oct -1987 — Jan 1988)).
- Major-Retcon: The Earth-One/pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Eclipso had no origin – he was simply a split-personality within Bruce Gordon. The entire origin (above) prior to him meeting Bruce Gordon is a post-Crisis invention. However, only the Umbra story (Metal Men #48-49) appears to fall out of continuity.
The Darkness Within
Eclipso had been content to continue his charade that he could only manifest through Bruce Gordon, but the increasing prominence of Earth superheroes could not be ignored. His first experiments towards this were in creating the solar power hero Starman (Will Payton, or so he claimed, Starman #42-45). However, a chance encounter with a wandering Daxamite convinced Eclipso that these super-heroes might be a better source of bodies that the usual non-powered Bruce Gordon. After the Daxamite Eclipso experimented with taking over a minor Earth based hero, the mercurial Creeper was easy prey and demonstrated how easily his scheme could work (Eclipso: The Darkness Within #1).
Superman’s indomitable will was too strong for Eclipso to eclipse at first so he took a more indirect route by eclipsing the Starman and using his shape-shifting ability to masked his eclipsed face. His body would be Eclipso’s spy in the enemy camp (Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #1). Eclipso became obsessed with eclipsing Superman after he threw off his first attempt. He finally managed it when Superman discovered Crater Bay, a town that Eclipso was using to spread black diamonds through the USA. However, he was later un-eclipsed in a battle with Guy Gardner (Superman Annual #4, Action Comics Annual #4, Adventures of Superman Annual #4).
Eclipso then worked his way through Earth’s super-heroes including Green Lantern Hal Jordan (Green Lantern Annual #1), the Flash (Flash Annual #5), Hawkwoman (Hawkworld Annual #3), and Power Girl (Justice League Europe Annual #3). Then by eclipsing Captain Hall of the NYPD Eclipso liberated a stash of Black Diamonds from the NYPD evidence locker and gained access to New York’s superheroes to eclipse Deathstroke, Starfire, Red Star, Changeling, and Pantra (Deathstroke The Terminator Annual #1, Teen Titans Annual #2). News of the black diamonds even reached Vril Dox’s LEGION and be brought them to Earth to investigate. However, his plan unwittingly led to Lobo and then Lady Quark becoming eclipsed (L.E.G.I.O.N. Annual #3).
Eclipso used his eclipsed heroes to lure the other superheroes to Meteor Crater in Arizona where a lunar eclipse allowed him to transport the eclipsed heroes to his Palace on the Moon. He then merged with them and used Starman to bait the other heroes into following. Once inside Eclipso’s palace they too came under his power and he started absorbing them into his body. However, Bruce Gordon had not been idle and had gathered a special team of solar scientists. Their strike team stormed the Palace and freed everybody. The furious Eclipso showed his full power and transforming into a giant to threaten the fleeing heroes. Starman finally broke free of his eclipse and seemingly destroyed Eclipso’s Palace in a massive blast of solar energy (Eclipso the Darkness Within #2).
Count Eclipso and Parador
Eclipso had to reconsider this schemes after his defeat by Earth’s super-humans (Eclipso: The Darkness Within #2) and Lar Gand destroyed his Lunar City project (Valor #1). He forswore subterfuge and centred his attention of the small South American country of Parador. Through a drugs cartel he took control of the local kingpin and styled himself Count Eclipso. Then he eclipsed the President, the other cartel leaders, the militias, the general, and anybody else of power. A media blackout was instituted and the borders sealed. Count Eclipso then had the cartel’s scientists create a poison which he cut with the country’s drug export – it was undetectable and didn’t kill the victim until 30 days after infection. He then sent the supply out on the normal transports (Eclipso #1-6).
Bruce Gordon’s first attempt to enter Parador has been a fiasco, but his second attempt was an absolute disaster. Eclipso’s domination of Parador was virtually complete, but there were some things even he couldn’t find. One was a money dump containing three billion dollars left behind by a drugs baron who was now in US custody. Eclipso had the drug baron’s daughter, but she wouldn’t talk. Amanda Waller arranged Gordon’s second mission under the claim that it was to free the girl from Eclipso’s control, but she was actually after the money herself so that she could fund a larger attack against Parador. Eclipso killed most of Gordon’s strike force and the little girl was killed when she tried to kill her own uncle – the horrors of Eclipso’s Parador having completely ravaged her mind (Eclipso #11-13).
Eclipso taunted the United Nations to prosecute Bruce Gordon and Amanda Waller for their attack on Parador, but his sabre rattling only served to galvanise international opinion against him and a proper JLA led force was assembled (Eclipso #14-16). Unseen by either Eclipso or Bruce Gordon the Phantom Stranger had methodically been collecting the majority of the black diamonds. His intention was to reassemble the Heart of Darkness and imprison Eclipso again. Eclipso gathered all the back diamonds in Parador together to form his own single diamond so he could manifest as a giant. The Spectre fought the giant Eclipso, and at the Stranger’s insistence, reforged the true Heart of Darkness banishing Eclipso from the Earth (Eclipso #16-18)
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. The were still enough diamonds around for Alex Montez to start gathering them into himself.
Many of Eclipso’s black diamonds remained in circulation and Bruce Gordon had begun to finish the work that the Phantom Stranger had started. He was working with Alex Montez - the cousin of one of the superheroes that Eclipso had killed – who had told him that he had discovered a way to destroy the diamonds (he was instead crushing them up and injecting himself with them). Gordon had found the last black diamond and was delivering it to Alex when he was eclipsed by Eclipso. The spirit of wrath found himself fighting the JSA and allied himself with the sorcerer Mordu and the shadow controlling former hero Obsidian to plunge Earth into perpetual eclipse. Eclipso was revelling in the chaos until he was momentarily separated from his diamond. Alex grabbed it and mystical tattoo glyphs copied from Diablo Island worked by pulling Eclipso out of Bruce Gordon and into Alex. Eclipso raged inside of Alex’s head, but the glyphs and black diamonds in his blood kept Alex in control (“Princess of Darkness”, JSA #46-50). Alex’s tenure in control of Eclipso was short lived as his tattoos where rendered inert during a battle and he committed suicide in the mistaken belief that his death would also kill Eclipso (JSA #56-58).
The wizard Shazam sensed Eclipso’s return and informed his champion Captain Marvel. However, Eclipso had guided the black diamond to an employee of STAR Labs in Metropolis and used her to steal a set of Lex Luthor’s armour. He knew that human bodies were fragile so he wanted to eclipse Superman again (a fascination he’d first shown during the Heart of Darkness saga). He transfered the diamond to Lois Lane. It took only a momentary eclipse of Lois to pass the diamond on to Superman and to create the anger necessary to transfer the eclipse to him. Captain Marvel fought the eclipsed Superman, but the threat was so dire that the wizard Shazam evoked the Spectre (presently without a human host) to banish Eclipso (“Lightning Strikes”, Action Comics #826, Adventures of Superman #639, Superman #216).
Jean Loring, the ex-wife of the Atom (Ray Palmer), had tried to win him back by secretly creating a series of horrendous crimes which she believed would spread fear through the superhero community and cause the Atom to want to protect her. The Atom eventually discovered the truth and handed Jean over to the authorities (Identity Crisis). Eclipso’s black diamond had vanished after Superman was freed from his eclipse, but it had been discovered by the Psycho-Pirate and Superboy Prime who delivered it to Jean Loring in Arkham Asylum (Superman #216). Eclipso spoke to Loring through the diamond and convinced her to become its possessor. The new Eclipso/Loring paring was quite distinct from the usual Eclipso/Gordon version. He now wore Jean Loring’s new body and seemed to enjoy the possibilities for engendering corruption that his/her new body presented (Day of Vengeance #1)
The new Eclipso burst free of Arkham and sought out the Spectre. Shazam had involved the Spectre in their last encounter and it had been the Spectre who drove him out of Parador. However, the hostless Spectre brought forth by Shazam’s power was increasingly aimless and befuddled. It was easy for Eclipso/Loring to seduce him and convince him that the source of all evil was actually magic. That began a war by the Spectre against all magic users and magic sites. They first targeted Eclipso’s old foe the Phantom Stranger and worked their way up to battling Captain Marvel and Shazam directly. A new Shadowpact was organised to stop them and they almost killed Eclipso/Loring with the spear of destiny. The Shadowpact were finally able to defeat Eclipso when Nightshade teleported her into a perpetual orbit around the Sun. The Spectre’s destructive quest continued until he was finally bound to a new human host and the next age of magic was initiated (Day of Vengeance #1-6).
Eclipso/Loring was visited in space by Ralph Dibny and the Spectre when the Spectre tricked Dibny into coming face-to-face with his wife’s killer. The Spectre told Ralph that he’d bring sue back if Ralph allowed him to kill Loring/Eclipso, but Ralph resisted and left the pair floating in space (52 #27).
- Retcon: That Darkseid created the Heart of Darkness is a post-Infinite Crisis invention. Prior to this Darkseid and Eclipso had been shown to consider each other equals and even engaged in a regular chess game.
Countdown to Mystery
Eclipso/Loring remained in orbit around the Sun until she was retrieved by servants of Darkseid who brought them back to Apokolips. Darkseid then appeared before her and calmed to be Eclipso’s creator. He said that the black diamond had originally been mined on Apokolips and had been cut and shaped by Darkseid himself. He threatened Eclipso and told him that his spirit would have floated endlessly in space if he hadn’t encountered the diamond. Darkseid tried to make the disorientated Eclipso recognise him as his master before returning him to Earth. Eclipso/Loring then used the black light from the black diamond to eclipse the superheroes Creeper and Plastic Man (unlike before the eclipsed individual did not have to be in possession of their own diamond, just being hit by the black light was enough). The Spectre and his new host Crispus Allen became aware of Eclipso’s return to Earth. The Spectre told Allen that he was bound by ancient rules not to interfere outside of his mandate, but that did not prevent Allen from acting. The Spectre then made Allen aware of Eclipso’s enemy Bruce Gordon (Countdown to Mystery #1-3)
Eclipso/Jean Loring was fighting Mary Marvel (one of Shazam’s champions who had been corrupted by the power of Black Adam and Darkseid). Eclipso had wanted Mary’s power, but was undone by it when the eclipse of Jean Loring was lifted. She plunged to an assumed watery grave while the power of Eclipso that had been bound within her cast around in panic for something to anchor itself to and instinctively flowed into Bruce Gordon. Allen had prepared for this had confined Gordon in a specially prepared cell. He taught Gordon how to access Eclipso’s nearly limitless power, but also warned him that using too much of it would allow Eclipso to surface. Bruce also used a particle accelerator at an old soviet science centre to subtly alter the Black Diamond’s atomic structure. How it would work for him in a reversed manner that it did for Eclipso. The old status quo between Eclipso and Bruce Gordon had been restored – albeit with a more equitable share in Eclipso’s superpowers (Countdown to Mystery #4-6).
Eclipso was unwilling to simply suffer a return to the old ways and sought to reforge the Heart of Darkness on his own. The Coast City Industrialist Rosario Corrotto was an adherent to Eclipso’s dark cult and arranged for Alex Montez’s body to be stolen in preparation for a dark ritual. Bruce Gordon used his altered diamond to free Eclipso’s superhero slaves (the Huntress, Dove, Creeper, and Plastic Man) and they followed Eclipso’s trail back to Corrotto’s estate. However, they were captured by the Order of Fury – a secret magi sect that worshipped Eclipso – and Bruce Gordon was brought before the reconstructed Heart of Darkness (pulled out of Montez’s body and reassembled by magic). Eclipso overcame Gordon and them merged with the Heart of Darkness. It then became a suit of armour which restored the full extent of his powers that had been denied to him ever since Darkseid captured his spirit.
Eclipso then called the Spectre – his most power enemy – to a confrontation on the moon. Their battle caused them to fall to Earth and was so intense that it sent ripples across human behaviour and sense. The Spectre realised that their near infinite power would destroy creation if one or other of them did not stand down. Eclipso did not, but Bruce did and he was strong enough to force Eclipso back. The Spectre then shattered Eclipso’s Diamond armour and returned him to his previous power levels (Countdown to Mystery #7-8).
Powers and Abilities
In theory Eclipso has nearly unlimited power, but his reach is limited by his binding to the Heart of Darkness. He has now been reduced to an insubstantial spirit who can only manifest physically by possessing a person who is holding a shard of the Heart. An eclipsed individual is virtually indestructible, super-strong, and they have – at times – been shown with the power of flight. An eclipsed individual’s chief weapon is the Black Diamond. When held to their eclipsed eye the diamond fires a beam of black light that can chill the soul, exert physical force, or create all manner of other effects.
After the other Black Diamonds were collected by the Phantom Stranger and Alex Montez the remaining diamond became Eclipso’s sole prison. The light of that Black Diamond also gained the power to partially-eclipse other people. These people would be willing servants of Eclipso, but appear not to become a host for Eclipso’s conciousness as the possessor of a diamond would.
If an eclipsed person had a particularly well visualised revenge fantasy then Eclipso can pull the instrument of that fantasy into the real world (e.g. a husband whose revenge fantasy is to see his unfaithful wife eaten by a lion could allow Eclipso to conjure a monstrous form of that lion).
Eclipso’s only weakness is sunlight. It will free an eclipsed individual and dispel any construct brought forth from their revenge fantasy.