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Royal Reviews: Dr. Solar Man of the Atom #1

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Saturday, July 17 2010 and posted in Reviews

Dr. Solar is back, and Jim Shooter is back with him!  See what Royal Nonesuch has to say about it!

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

STORY BY Jim Shooter
ART BY Dennis Calero
COVER BY Michael Komarck
PUBLISHER Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE DATE Thu, July 14th, 2010

Empowered by a thermonuclear catastrophe, Doctor Solar discovers that he can control energy. Immeasurable strength is his at a whim. Power beyond imagination courses through his body. But he knows that the same kind of science run amok that created him can also empower the wicked. In the aftershock of the cataclysm that created Doctor Solar, ripples throughout space time imbue one Whitmore Pickerel with the power to create life -- which he uses to serve his selfish desires and reckless ambitions. His newly created being, Leviathan, invulnerable and immeasurably strong, clashes with the Man of the Atom in a fierce battle that ravages the city. Meanwhile, for his personal amusement, Pickerel creates Glow, a living fantasy of unearthly charms . . . and deadly possibilities!

* Special bonus for this supersized issue: the very first Doctor Solar story from 1962!

* Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #1 is but the first act in an explosive program that will also see Shooter reimagine Magnus, Robot Fighter and Turok, Son of Stone for the twenty first century!

* Jim Shooter (former Valiant Comics editor in chief) returns to the character he redefined in the 1990s!


Dr. Solar was a minor science-fiction hero published by Gold Key in 1962, but he really hit his peak in the 1990's, when he was licensed by Jim Shooter and Valiant Comics.  Shooter's tenure as Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics in the late 1970's and most of the 1980's was characterized by some of the most intense and creative stories in that company, so when he started up a superhero line at Valiant, there was understandably a measure of fan interest.

Shooter's original run played up the quantum physics angle of the character and used a smattering of silver age plot devices in an interesting, modern way.  It made for a fine book that worked differently from a lot of the other books on the stands.  With this new #1, published by Dark Horse, Shooter's new Solar hews closer to the original incarnation, but doesn't achieve the same sense of modernity in its narrative.  The plot is told in a straight up, unexciting way that actually comes to a screeching halt when the title character spends too much page space recounting his origin.  Solar's powers allow him to present his story pictorally because he's "figured out how to display images from [his] memory."  That's all well and good, but it's still a disguised case of telling not showing.  This sequence is punctuated by a stunning lack of moderation in its color art.  Dennis Calero, who's done fine work on X-MEN: NOIR and X-FACTOR at Marvel, takes on the pencils and colors on this book, and though the former look as great as they normally do, the latter are overly rendered and filled with way too many digital effects, particularly in the aforementioned origin recap.  The bending light sources and rudimentary textures really don't help mitigate the miles and miles of exposition in that section.

The B plot of the issue has to do with a writer's creations coming to life.  There's a clever bit about how every single word a writer uses counts for something, so they should be chosen wisely.  The whole thing comes about because of some changes in reality caused by Dr. Solar early in the issue.  The story of a character stuck in a situation of his own making can be an interesting one if executed well, but this issue is rather pedestrian and by-the-numbers.

Also appearing in the issue is a reprint of the original Dr. Solar story from 1962.  It's a fun bit of Silver Age whiz-bang that visually reaches for striking pop art, and narratively features a solid science-fiction espionage story.  It's far from groundbreaking, but it is a nice historical artifact.


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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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