Written by Dan DiDio with art by Philip Tan, “Justice League Dark #23.2: Eclipso” feels like a spaceholder, which is quite an achievement for a book in the midst of a thinly veiled placeholder month. This issue is not one of the great gems of Villains Month, despite the origins of Eclipso and his ties to a black diamond.
A page-and-a-half into the book, the dialog presents the first strike against “Justice League Dark” #23.2 with a delivery man proclaiming, “I gotta package for you…” which indicates he has to do some packaging for someone rather than he has a package to deliver. It doesn’t get much better from there as DiDio insists on having the characters in this issue speak out loud throughout the entire issue, regardless of surroundings or interactions. Jacobs has suffered some setbacks and that might excuse his personal dialog, but Jacobs’ mentor/benefactor Jonah Bennett isn’t as unbalanced as Jacobs and would have been better represented with some thought balloons or a similar story device. Beyond that, all three characters (Jacobs, Bennett and Eclipso) are limp and unengaging. Eclipso is sadistic, Jacobs is gullible and Bennett is confused. Not one of them is interesting in any regard. DiDio doesn’t even really deliver the why of Eclipso’s existence other than to take Gordon Jacobs’ life those last few steps towards living hell.
Tan is as uneven in “Justice League Dark” #23.2 as he has been since the relaunch in 2011. There are panels of absolute brilliance and panels that could use a lot more work. Sometimes the anatomy is off — like the flat noodle toes on the first page — and other times the anatomy changes up, as do surrounding details. Glasses appear and disappear, facial structure slides and limbs contort and elongate in ways to make the Elongated Man envious.
Further backstory is hinted, but “Justice League Dark: #23.2 isn’t interesting enough to warrant concern, despite the heavy-handedness used to push Eclipso’s other recent appearances in a double-page flashback. This issue brings the Villains Month event to a new low of unnecessary. Certainly under the “Justice League Dark” umbrella, a more interesting story could have been told of Doctor Destiny or a new foe. Eclipso’s story and motivation don’t require a full issue, but given the space, they should be far more compelling than this issue. After all, this is (allegedly) the original evil in the DC Universe. Shouldn’t he be compellingly evil?