Eclipse’s first issue focuses on the hero Keith’s childhood relationship with his father, Bruce, who is autistic. Bruce is a person with high-functioning autism, as he is able to raise Keith as a single parent. That doesn’t protect Keith from the bullying that he faces, despite the fact that Bruce is capable of the multitude of social cues and complexities that come along with raising a child. Keith is forced to grow up quicker, take on responsibilities sooner, and live an extremely regimented schedule per Bruce’s needs. Keith grows increasingly frustrated at Bruce for his autism and for not allowing him to act the hero. He begins to internalize his rage, letting it grow until he is older and can decide for himself to become Eclipse. As Eclipse he dons a mask and suit with the emblem of the sun and uses the raging fire of frustration and anger inside to fight the evil in his city.
The artwork excels in the action shots of Eclipse fighting villains; however, in the earlier reflective section the facial renderings are difficult to make out. Many of the facial expressions are similar or do not reflect the situation. The faces and bodies do not seem to match the characters expressed in the writing, and the lines are hard with similar facial features on both male and female alike.
I absolutely love that Talbot infused memories from his own personal experiences working one on one with a boy who has autism and, in particular, their arguments over Hulk and Batman. That being said, this issue, at times, felt a little static and caught in the narration, and Keith’s internal monologue of conflict could be interpreted as preachy. It didn’t always sound as if they were the thoughts of a boy, but rather an adult. Now, this could be because the story is also a reflection of Eclipse, but it more felt like the author’s voice was peeking through with classic societal sayings like, “Those weren’t the cards I was dealt.” While Talbot and Meier take us into Keith’s world and help us understand a little of where he is coming from, some of the emotional moments can feel constructed rather than organic. This is something that I hope will iron itself out with further editions as the story progresses and the audience grows along with the development of the character. The authors tried to invest too much character development and emotional content in this initial edition rather than letting it slowing arc over the journey of a multi-edition series. While I fully agree with the authors that the need to establish the father-son relationship is paramount, I think simple and clean is key.
Despite this, the honesty with which Bruce’s voice was written is inspiring. It is neither caricatured nor degrading in any way. Bruce felt real. He felt like the many children I have worked with and adults I have known. Bruce was a true character, not a voice of reason or reflection, but a fully developed character and a wonderfully written one. Eclipse is a beautiful story and one I look forward to see evolving.