Solar is such an iconic character in the comic book world, but for me it’s only because they ran so many awesome ads with the character alongside Marvel, Image and other early 90’s comics. Sad to say, but it wasn’t until Dynamite rebooted the character that I realized this character is actually pretty awesome. Solar is now being wielded by Erica, the daughter of the man who was in those ads and she’s figuring it out as she goes along. So how’s the second story arc? Is it good?
Solar: Man of the Atom #10 (Dynamite Entertainment)
It’s clear from the new direction this title is taking that writer Frank J. Barbiere is doing a bit of world building. The first story arc did a fantastic job fleshing out Erica and the insane ability the Solar power has and what that means if a normally intelligent person were given the powers. With the new story arc brings a new artist, but also a new direction. There’s something bigger behind these powers that even Erica’s dad couldn’t comprehend, but there’s also more to his floating spirit and the power Erica shares with her brother.
Is she wearing lipstick?
Barbiere has got himself a pretty interesting story here, but of course this is largely due to how strong of a character Erica has been throughout the series. You can pretty much hang any story, however outlandish, onto a character as long as they’re grounded, relatable and enjoyable to read. He’s nailed her, so now that he’s opening up the Solar power itself to bigger ideas we run with it, partly because we want to continue to follow Erica, but also because there’s the promise more will be revealed as to where such an amazing power of the Solar could possibly come from.
He also takes the story on a slightly surprising turn by having Doctor Spektor be a lot more trustworthy than we might have imagined. This character is brought in to give the story a bit of an occult flair, which is a bit surprising considering Solar is all about math and science. Barbiere also flirts a bit with an interesting idea of Erica, her father and her brother becoming “one vessel” that should have compelling implications as the story progresses.
The art by Jonathan Lau has an Erik Larsen flair at times with some crazy crosshatching and a older school look here and there. I can’t say every page works as splendidly as the first arc was, but overall Lau does a good job keeping character emotions understandable and story progression clear. The only image that took me aback was the opening flashback does show a younger Erica a bit sexualized, but nothing too over the top. The powers of Doctor Spektor look fantastic though, especially in one scene where he turns a robot into moths.
Moth power activate!
Is It Good?
The new direction to flesh out the backstory of the Solar power and a relationship between siblings gives the series a fascinating new direction to keep an eye on.