TITLE: Solar: Man of the Atom – Vol. 1, Issue #16
YEAR: December 1992
COMPANY: Valiant Comics
Plotter: Bob Layton
Scripter: Kevin Vanhook
Penciller: Peter Grau
Inker: Stan Drake
Colorist: Mike Cavallaro
As I have written about Golden Key Comics and “Magnus Robot Fighter 4000 A.D.”, the two other titles that carried over from the Golden Key Comics years to Valiant were “Turok, The Stone Hunter” (which would be known as “Turok, Dinosaur Hunter”) and “Dr. Solar, Man of the Atom”.
The original Golden Key Comics series was created by Paul S. Newman, editor Matt Murphy and artist Bob Fujitani and debuted in 1962 in “Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom”.
And if anything, the covers were an attraction to comic book fans as the cover art featured paintings of the character and it helped that the comics were selling for .12 cents versus .15 cents which was significant for children back in the day.
While Newman and Fujitani would be with the comic for a shortwhile, other writers and artists would work on the comic book series.
But similar to “Magnus the Robot Fighter 4000 A.D.”, the jump to 15 cents an issue and the decline in sales of the comic book industry would lead “Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom” to cease publication with issue #27 in 1969. And later brought back in 1981 with issue #28 under the Whitman Comics imprint and a new series would not come out until Western Publishing allowed the licensing of the character to Valiant in 1991. And a total of 60 issues would be published until the comics ceased in 1996.
A trade paperback release would follow in 2008 with Dark Horse Comics and in 2013, Dynamite Entertainment would acquire the rights to Solar, Turok, Magnus and Doctor Spektor and a new series featuring “Solar: Man of the Atom” would last for 12 issues in 2014-2015.
Needless to say, the most memorable and successful run was the Valiant Comics series in the ’90s, but while I enjoyed the original Golden Key comics as well, the original had the ’60s camp of spy organizations with crooked scientists doing the dirty work of an evil mastermind known as Nuro (and when Dr. Phillip Solar used his power, he turned green), while the Valiant Comics utilizes Dr. Solar’s actual power much more effectively but also managing to incorporate the character to the Valiant universe at that time.
In the Valiant comics, Solar is the character, the doctor’s name is Phil Seleski, a physicist who happened to be a fan of the Gold Key comic books and the adventures of Doctor Solar. Unfortunately, Seleski would really screw up badly and suffice to say, the destruction of the world and the guilt became too strong that it splint him into two beings, Doctor Solar (the comic book hero) and Phil Seleski (who retained all memories of the original)
For this post, I randomly picked out a Valiant issue from my comic box and it turned out to be “Solar: Man of the Atom” issue #16.
In this issue, Phil and his love of his life, Gayleare moving to Cupertino, California together. Meanwhile, Toyo Harada of the Harbinger Foundation is not too thrilled and asks Kuramoto to arrange a meeting with Solar.
As Phil and Gail are enjoying a night of romance and living in the Silicon Valley, Kuramoto of the Harbinger arrives and surprises Phil with a folder from the Harbinger Foundation that knows that he is Dr. Solar and that a meeting with Harada has been arranged.
As Phil and Gayle go to Palm Springs for the meeting, Phil knows Harada is up to no good and his men have them under surveillance.
When they meet, Harada talks about the aliens on the dark side of the room and how they must be eradicated or else they will commit more atrocities upon the world. But to show how bad things have gotten, Harada and Kuramoto takes both Phil and Gayle to the hotel’s basement in which they discover…
While, I don’t want to spoil the issue for you, I’m sure the cover spoils enough on its own and what kind of aliens that Solar is going to have to deal with.
If anything, the issue manages to bring Toyo Harada into a Solar storyline and no doubt, when Harada is involved, you know that he is up to no good.
The issue also focuses a lot on Phil and Gayle’s relationship which many readers of the original Gold Key series enjoyed was the relationship angle between Phil and Gayle, well this is a continuation of that but even in the comic book, Phil also mentions the other Gayle, from another time and another world alluding to the Gold Key series.
Nevertheless, its a shame that Solar can’t find a solid home. Personally, it would have been awesome for the new Valiant to get Solar, Magnus, Turok for their series again because to be frank, while it’s awesome to see the success of Valiant with its reboot, while I like the stories from what little I have read, I can’t help but feel how the universe is incomplete without Solar, Magnus and Turok, considering how there were major characters of the Valiant of the ’90s. But that’s just me…
But it was great to read a “Solar: Man of the Atom” issue once again. It’s been 25-years since I last opened this issue, so it was a nostalgic blast to the past to read it once again and I can’t wait to read more!