Thursday, July 29, 2010

Comic Book Review – Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom #1 (Dark Horse)


I need to preface this by saying that one of my favorite writer/creators I’ve ever read is Jim Shooter.  Jim Shooter is the current writer for Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom, Magnus Robot Fighter, and Turok Son of Stone.  These are all old Gold Key Comics titles that are being revived once again.  The last time we saw these three titles together were in the dying days of Acclaim Comics which had bought out Valiant Comics.  Jim Shooter made Valiant successful before he was ousted in a bit of controversy.  It was never quite the same after he left because they lost his vision and focus.  He founded a few other comic companies each with great storylines and feel but as the comic industry went spiraling into decline, they too, vanished.

When Dark Horse announced they were bringing back these Gold Key characters back under the supervision of Jim Shooter, I was somewhat excited.  The only thing I didn’t like was that there was no “shared universe” for these characters like we saw in Valiant.  Jim Shooter is at his best when he can tie things together into one universe.  So, while I was happy to see these characters revived, I still have reservations.  However, with Shooter’s writing, I know the stories will at least be solid.

So here we are, diving into the first issue of the rebirth and hopefully being of a wonderful new era for this character.  So how does it pan out?  It has a bit of action to jump into things before we start getting some explanations.  So that’s typical fare now days to kind of jump start into things.  I don’t always like that though as it seems to pull us away from the character and their motivations.  But I see it for what it is.

The issue gets stronger as it goes along.  We find out Doctor Solar was exposed to a nuclear incident involving a black hole as well.  Not very many major twists on his origins, which is fine.  We don’t have to relearn much about him and no sense in reinventing the wheel.  But we found out that he himself has create a quantum event that is creating abnormalities in our reality.  So we have the premise set and we see some of those abnormalities introducing themselves.

My gripe with the comic is the art.  I did not enjoy Dennis Calero’s artwork at all.  His characters are very stiff and not at all fluid.  The action sequences are abysmal at best and I can’t figure out exactly what’s going on in half of them.  Jim Shooter has a way of getting artists to become better storytellers, but I don’t think he had a lot of time here.  From an interview I read, some of the early pages were rushed and Jim never saw them so they could get those pages out early for previews.  I could tell from those interviews that he wasn’t quite pleased with them.  There are some decent pages, but nothing great.  I hope Jim Shooter can bring him around to being a better storyteller, but I don’t know if he can improve Calero’s style much.  His characters, especially the character Vanguard, aren’t drawn very realistically at all.  The only thing people seem to like about his artwork is his “shading”, so that’s all I need to know there.  I hope they either switch artists or he improves quickly because he’s dragging this issue down.

Oh, and this is a 48 page spectacular!  What does that mean?  Well we get a reprint of the original Doctor Solar published by Gold Key.  I had read this recently and is a decent enough story.  A bit outdated, but fun stuff anyway.  For $3.50 you’re getting two stories, so that definitely makes it worthwhile, especially if you never read the original series.

Overall, a good buy for the price.  The story is a little disjointed but builds up well towards the end.  The artwork isn’t very good though and draws away from the storytelling that SHOULD be going on. 

3 out of 5 stars (the bonus feature helps it out)!  Star White IconStar White IconStar White Icon


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