Cinema Blend wrote about the history of how Eclipso was put to use, ever since the villain who grew out of the brain/body of solar energy scientist Dr. Bruce Gordon was created in 1963, and is now turning up in the TV series based on Stargirl. For example, there’s the oh-so big a deal 90s retcon and what it later led to:
The first time comic readers were introduced to Eclipso was within the pages of House of Secrets #61, published back in July 1963, with several iterations of the villain being developed over the years. In the first iteration, the solar-energy scientist Bruce Gordon (whose name was indeed Batman-inspired) was attacked by a sorcerer while attempting to view a solar eclipse. The sorcerer wounded Gordon with a black diamond, which caused the Eclipso persona to emerge anytime there was a solar eclipse. That phenomenon is what inspired Eclipso’s look, also.
Though Eclipso was something more of a generic villain in the early days, his story got revamped in the 1990s to reveal that Bruce Gordon was actually being possessed by a vengeful demon whose soul was trapped inside 1,000 shards of a giant black diamond called the Heart of Darkness, but was still allowed to possess anyone who came into contact with the shards. He was later described as being the spirit of God’s wrath, and it was Eclipso who was responsible for flooding the Earth in Biblical times. (Naturally.) Basically, Eclipso is one of the most purely evil and pandemonium-focused villains in DC’s annals.
In later stories, Eclipso moved on from the Bruce Gordon alter ego, and he took on various other forms. One of them will be discussed below, but it’s worth noting that the demon also took possession of Ray Palmer’s one-time wife Jean Loring, and most recently took hold of Maxwell Lord in the Rebirth event. Oh yeah, and he also possessed Superman at one point. SUPERMAN. If that doesn’t speak to his abilities, I don’t know what will.
Interesting they don’t mention how forced and abominable it was when the retconned entity of Eclipso possessed Jean in the pages of the 2005 Day of Vengeance miniseries written by Bill Willingham, another serious, offensive error he made when he was writing for DC mainstream besides his mistakes with Spoiler and Dr. Leslie Thompkins, and what was seen in Day of Vengeance all stemmed from that 2004 abomination called Identity Crisis. They just tell it all as though this were real life. Turning Max Lord into another pawn of what Eclipso became was also bad. As for Superman becoming possessed, I think this certainly happened in 1992, when DC published a crossover occurring mainly in annuals called The Darkness Within, and that was pretty shoddy too. Yes, that may have been where the whole retcon began, and it decidedly was pointless; a desperate attempt to stay “relevant”. I don’t like the site’s assertion what grew out of Gordon during solar eclipses was “generic” in its early days either, because it’s just another example of older renditions being dismissed as “old-fashioned” because they don’t meet PC standards.
They also bring up one of the worst examples of culling minor characters because they’re supposedly taking too much room and nothing short of expendable, which took place in a brief series Eclipso appeared in during 1993:
In the comics, Yolanda Montez served as Wildcat II, the super-successor to her godfather Ted Grant, and was part of the offspring-filled Infinity, Inc. After that group disbanded, Wildcat II joined Amanda Waller’s Eclipso-hunting team dubbed the Shadow Fighters (for a 1993 comic book arc). Unfortunately, Yolanda was one of several heroes who was killed by Eclipso in that ongoing battle.
Logically enough, Eclipso soon became the target of Yolanda’s vengeful cousin Alex Montez, who found a way to both take on Eclipso’s powers while also controlling the evil entity. (Obviously by gathering and liquifying 999 of the Heart of Darkness shards so that he could inject them into his bloodstream, while using the lone solid shard to bring his Eclipso-ness out.) After spending a while giving Eclipso a good name as a hero of sorts, Alex later sacrificed himself to stop the demon from taking over more of his persona.
And that was all very awful too. Yolanda’s cousin Alex appeared in the JSA title when Geoff Johns and David Goyer were writing it, and his death was decidedly as cheap as Yolanda’s was. (It also took place some time after Goyer had left the title, leaving Johns as solo writer.) That aside, when Yolanda was originally killed in the Eclipso title of 1993, decidedly a very poor place to serve as a carry-over for Waller of the Suicide Squad, it was also shortly after Len Strazewski’s Justice Society of America title from 1992-93 was cancelled, despite having relatively good sales and audience, and as Strazewski once explained, editor Mike Carlin made the biased decision because he didn’t think senior superheroes should be a focus for DC, Marvel’s creation of older heroes like Dr. Strange notwithstanding. Yet at the same time, DC editorial had no qualms over killing off younger characters like Yolanda and Charles McNider’s female successor in the Dr. Mid-Nite role, Beth Chapel. That blatancy pretty much exposed their hypocrisy. More than a bias against senior citizen crimefighters, it was practically a bias against anything Justice Society related, as the Infinite Inc. successors to these Golden Age heroes happened to be. Johns and Goyer didn’t make things any better when they wrote Todd Rice/Obsidian killing his stepdad in the pages of JSA.