Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #1

That was. . . disappointing. Having heard, read, and presumed awesomeness about “Solar” (“Doctor” or otherwise) in the past, I was stoked to try out a whole new world. Unfortunately that world was filled with art that featured phototraced (or so they appear) characters that are inconsistently rendered through their burdensome origin stories. The revelation of Doctor Phil Solar’s transformation during his conversation with Doctor Malcolm Clarkson took four pages and was little more than swirly colors around talking heads. For four pages! I understand the need for sharing the origin with the readers, but I’m also convinced there are snazzier ways to do it.

The rest of the issue features a plot that seems unnecessarily cliched as one man’s imagination comes to life in the real world. That rip in reality does get a slight twist as we learn who set the circumstances in motion that allow the anomalies in.

Those anomalies, sprung from the mind of a comic book writer (really) named Whitmore Pickerel, come in the form of Leviathan, a behemoth with hideous fashion sense, and Glow, the Venusian Temptress. Depicted as prototypical comic book characters, these two tip the fragile mind of the writer, but not before causing some comic book style havoc.

Stepping back for this review, it doesn’t seem as bad as it did while I was reading it. Shooter is a much better writer than this first issue projects. The story was lumpy and uneven. The action was overly posed with frozen figures incapable of motion.

Calero’s art hit some great high notes and scraped bottom a few times. This is most obvious during the conversation between Solar and Clarkson, as both men are subjected to facial malformations that would be expected by the likes of Plastic Man. Calero proves that he has the skill and the vision — the single panel of Phil Solar floating in his living room is stunning — but Calero doesn’t bring that vision to the entirety of this issue.

Dark Horse tossed in the original first appearance of Doctor Solar for the second half of this issue. That’s a nice bit of nostalgia with timeless art. I found myself more interested in the further adventures of that Doctor Solar than the one in the lead feature for this issue. That said, there is potential here, and maybe with the burden of a secret origin out of the way, future issues will truly showcase the creative talent of this book.

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