Turok: Son of Stone and Magnus: Robot Fighter have already returned to the fold in Dynamite’s Gold Key revival, and now it’s time for the continuing adventures of Western Publishing’s third Silver Age legend. Your Major Spoilers review of Solar: Man Of The Atom #2 awaits!
SOLAR: MAN OF THE ATOM #2
Writer: Frank J. Barbiere
Artist: Joe Bennet
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick/Mauricio Wallace
Letterer: Frank J. Barbiere
Editor: Joe Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Solar, Man Of The Atom: “Doctor Phil Seleski had an accident that made it so he could do everything.
Phil kept this from his twin children, Erica and Colin.
Then, Phil exploded.”
THE NAME ‘ERICA’ HAS CONNOTATIONS
Last issue was kind of a shocking reveal (although, I have to admit, Philip Seleski/Solar blowing up isn’t an entirely new phenomenon), leaving us hanging from what felt like a return to the old-school “Doctor” Solar. This issue opens with the (you should excuse the expression) fallout from that moment, as Colin Seleski sifts through the rubble of what was his father’s lab, while twin sister Erica recovers in the hospital. Miraculously, Erica shows no ill-effects from her exposure to what amounts to a massive nuclear explosion… Well, that’s actually not true. She shows no PHYSICAL after-effects, but begins experiencing vivid dreams that turn into even more vivid hallucinations of her father as a green-skinned, glowing figure in a red suit. Things get really wacky when an alien presence crashes to Earth, smashing its way into the hospital where Erica is recovering and trying to disintegrate her. If you’re read a comic book origin story, you probably have an idea what happens next: Guided by the disembodied voice of her father, Erica suddenly begins channeling bursts of nuclear fire, right in the monster’s big Jack-Kirby-monster-lookin’ face.
STIFF ART, AWKWARD DIALOGUE
Erica Seleski is an interesting central presence here: Foul-mouthed, resentful of her father, and less interested in the scientific pursuits that he loved (unlike twin brother Colin, who is a vital part of Papa Seleski’s research.) The next-issue blurb seems to imply that Erica may actually be the red-garbed hero figure of the book, at least temporarily, which I am very much on board for. Unlike the Dynamite relaunches of Turok and Magnus, who both have some large changes in status quo, but still resemble their 60’s selves, this book is a hybrid. Even the title is more reminiscent of the 90s Valiant Comics relaunch, as the original book was ‘Doctor Solar: Man Of The Atom’, but it’s a tack that seems to work from a storytelling perspective. Artistically, this issue is uneven, with excellent art during the robot attack, but somewhat sketchier work in the initial hospital sequences. The robot itself reminds me of Kirby’s Destroyer from ‘Thor’, and seems weirdly out-of-place with the design aesthetic of the rest of the comic, but even if artist Joe Bennet has a tendency to stretch bodies and elongate facial features oddly, the overall work is very expressive and full of raw emotion.
THE BOTTOM LINE: IT HAS POTENTIAL
Although I’m not as psyched about this book’s relaunch as I was for the return of Magnus (and, to be honest, the Valiant properties that I naturally equate with this book, such as Harbinger and Archer & Armstrong from new-school Valiant.) I like the use of Erica in this issue, especially if the plan is to have her be the protagonist, but I’m worried about the fact that the previous Erica in Solar’s back story is the villainous Mothergod, who had quite a few missteps (in my opinion) in her story. Still, taking the big picture, Solar: Man Of The Atom #2 does entertain, and while the art is inconsistent and the story meanders a bit, it’s still a strong enough second issue to make me want to come back next time, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. Even if we fall into the old ploy of battling siblings on opposite sides, the idea of Erica as Solar (albeit not a MAN Of The Atom) is one that I kind of want to read more about…