Solar: Man of the Atom

30 Sep

In today’s post, I’ve decided to take a step off the beaten path and travel outside the Marvel and DC universe. One thing about getting into comic books that I’ve noticed is that once you step outside the realm of pop culture characters it becomes difficult to find decent reads. Even within the well known publishers, some of the lesser known characters can be rather inaccessible since there isn’t as much demand for copies and therefore finding good jumping in points can be difficult.

So, I consider myself lucky to be able to say that the comic I will be discussing today is not only one that I don’t think is super well known (makes me feel like I’m discovering something, even though I’m not), it’s also not very deep into it’s storyline. So, let’s get into Solar: Man of the Atom.

HISTORY

Solar was first created in 1962, the Silver Age of Comics, by Paul S. Newman and Matt Murphy for the publisher Gold Key, and was the company’s first original character. The series hit its peak in 1965 and with thanks to a decline in the comic book industry as a whole, was canceled after issue #25. Gold Key would later bring the character back in the 1980s for a short four issue run only to cancel it, once again following a fall in sales throughout the industry.

Solar reappeared, along with a new origin story, in 1991 under the publishing company Valiant which was working in tandem with Gold Key at the time. The series found relative success and continued until 1996 when it was canceled after issue #60.

The publishing rights to the character was then taken over by Acclaim, who issued a couple one-shot comics of the character, then by Dark Horse in 2008 who released old issues of the original Gold Key comics and claimed that it would be starting the series anew with a previous writer of the successful Valiant series, Jim Shooter. However, this never came to fruition and the latest reincarnation of the character began publication in March of 2014 from publisher Dynamite.

HOW TO GET STARTED

With the latest run of Solar beginning in March of 2014, this is one of those few times in a comic book’s life that you’ll be able to jump in right from the beginning. This section is going to be relatively short, start with issue #1.

ACCESSIBILITY

Dynamite claims that this is a complete revamp of the series, though they have kept the name of the character from series time under Valiant, which makes sense considering that to date it was the most successful run of the series. However, there seems to be several allusions to the older publications that can be troubling. One possibility is that the writers are simply adding depth that, as of issue #5, has not been fleshed out yet, or they could simply be expecting readers to know the old story lines.

I have not read any of Solar comics from previous publishers, but based on the research I’ve done for this post I am confident that it is one of those two choices, thought I would think it would be rather brash for the writers to assume readers to know the history of the character, especially sense the last time the character saw any major popularity was close to 25 years ago.

As it stands, the one issue I have with the story in terms of accessibility is that it seems to rely very heavily on the past of the character without really giving us a viable introduction to that history. That being said, it’s nothing so vague that it leaves you staring at the page in confusion, but it does make you scratch your head and say “Uhm, context?” at times.

I give it a 3 out of 5 on the accessibility to new readers scale.

MY TAKE

This is one of those comics that I feel did an absolutely brilliant job of hooking me with the first issue and since then has done a mediocre job of expanding on it. I can honestly say that the first issue has one of the most memorable scenes I have ever read in a comic book. All I’ll say is pick it up and look for hostage scene. However, not to give away any spoilers, I’ve found the following issues have failed to continue that zest of excitement. The fight scenes can be a little confusing at times and the characters have left something to be desired, however, I’m not giving up hope on it yet.

In Solar, we’re gifted with a world that either has little to no other super heroes outside of the title character. And that title character just happens to be a living nuclear battery that exhibits near limitless abilities to alter time, space and himself. It’s an extremely promising concept. And it’s that idea that is going to keep me coming back to it. That’s my opinion.

My suggestion to you dear reader is pick up the first two issues. The first one, I can easily say most people will truly enjoy. The second comic will be the one that helps you decide whether or not to keep going.

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