The title of this book refers to the protagonist as a man… but that’s a bit misleading. And that’s actually a good thing: so far this series has been a joy to read because it breaks superhero conventions and is rife with surprises. It’s been non-stop since the start, but as for the fifth issue: is it good?
Solar Man Of The Atom #5 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Last issue Erica, the original Solar’s daughter, acquired her father’s power by accident and since then has been fighting aliens, shot out into outer space and generally winged the whole superhero thing. Helping her has been a spirit version of her father, although if you ask her he’s been more of a pain than anything. And pain is something she’s knowing all too well, as the last issue ended with her taking on a massive Jack Kirby looking villain and passing out. She beat the bad guy though, so everything should be calm from here on out right?
Wrong! This series has yet to let off the gas and that’s one of its strengths. So often comics will get through the bad guy and give the reader a moment to reflect. This usually means a couple pages of exposition and recap, but not so here. Instead, writer Frank J. Barbiere kicks off this issue with Erica running from some random aliens. I was actually confused at first as I knew I hadn’t missed an issue, yet there Erica was, thrown into the midst of somewhere completely different; after a few pages however the issue flashbacks to where we left off, which is a nice kick in the pants for anyone, new or regular readers.
The story gently weaves previous Solar adventures into the storyline, although if you ask me I wouldn’t know if the aliens are established in the lore or just made up here. Either way, it ties Erica into her father’s adventures and an in interesting twist shows her dad wasn’t the perfect hero he’d like to think he was. The stakes are raised even further in this issue, which is saying a lot considering the Earth was going to be destroyed only an issue ago.
Erica continues to be a pleasure to read as well. Her attitude could easily have been written as bratty and annoying, but here it’s relatable as everyone has experienced an overbearing parent as she does. She also continues to speak like a normal person when she’s in a world where speaking in complicated and sophisticated language is the norm. In many ways it’s easy to see Erica’s reaction to all this insanity is how we might as well.
The art by Jonathan Lau is pretty slick and he’s a nice choice for this issue because of the alien world on which Erica is running around; the world is steeped in dark ink work, which gives it a dark tone and mysterious feel. I’m not a big fan of the Solar redesign Erica comes up with (and by extension Lau did, I assume) but it doesn’t last long anyway. Besides that gripe the action is clear and consistent, the layouts work and it’s all very detailed and moody. Good stuff!
Is It Good?
This is an enjoyable issue that changes gears but does so without losing the energy and pace of the previous issues. The best book you aren’t reading!