Sunday, May 25, 2014

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom-Magnus, Robot Fighter: Free Comic Book Day (Dark Horse Comics)

Currently publishing their own incarnations of Turok, Doctor Solar, Magnus: Robot Fighter, and Doctor Spektor, Dynamite has spent the last few months building up their own Gold Key universe, remaking these properties from the original GK ones from the 60's. And they're not the first to do so in recent years. Before Dynamite tried, there was Dark Horse, and they screwed up, big time! Out of the four or so runs they were publishing, Solar was the only one that wasn't cancelled at only four issues was cancelled come issue 8.

Whether the Dark Key line was cancelled entirely due to mismanagement, or money troubles, or just plain lack of popularity, I'm not entirely sure. What I do know is that the company pulled a Liefeld, and the series' came out very sporadically, sometimes bi-monthly if the schedule even held.

As well as the 20 issues in total I mentioned above, Dark Key also released a Free Comic Book Day special for Solar and Magnus. I've no idea what their placement  is, but if these were given out for Free Comic Day, then I imagine they're tailored specifically to pull in/attract readers, so it's not like these'd be random stories ten issues into the run.

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom

Phil Solar (Wow, who'd you kill to come up with a name that original!) has recently been imbued with superhuman powers over energy after an accident at a nuclear plant, which has also caused strange anomalies all over the world...

Fallout is ok. It tells a pretty complete story in only ten pages, which is something I've got to give credit for, as most comic book writers nowadays can't even find their bearings unless they have four issues to tell one story.

Solar doesn't really have much character too him, and we have no idea who he is, and only the vaguest of idea of what happened to give him these powers. On one hand, this is understandable, as this isn't an origin story or an Issue 1, but on the other hand, how is this meant to pull readers in if we don't know anything about the title character. Though while we don't get to know Phil Solar, we at least see how his mind works, which is a bit of a plus.

One weird aspect is the comic's dating. Do we really need to know that it's 5:15 on a Sunday during August? Just saying what year it is, maybe the month too, would be good enough for me.

The artwork is ok , but a little sketchy. Literally sketchy. And sometimes underdrawn. The cover is ok. Solar's way too over-muscly, but the bigger problem is how clashing its art style is to the rest of the book. Though it's nowhere near as egregious as other comics of this line.

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom FBCD is decent, and it makes me mildly curious to see what the rest of the series is like. It's not great, but it's a serviceable little read.

Magnus, Robot Fighter

In the year 4000 AD (AD, not CE comic! It's been AD for the last 2000+ years and I'm not changing it now, no matter what archeologists and historians here and there say!), there are just as many robots as there are humans. Magnus is a citizen of massive mega-city North Am, and it's his duty to protect the innocent from rogue evil robots...

Magnus is a super tough hero, who for some reason wears an initial monogram belt, and a mini-miniskirt. Thank god he's not from Scotland, otherwise the last thing Magnus' enemies would see is his taint!

Unlike Fallout, Eyes to the Blind actually does a pretty good job showing us who Magnus is and what he does. The story is a 'day in the life' type, showing Magnus' powers, how he operates, his moral stance, who his allies and associates are, etc.

The dialogue from the robots is really the weak link of this story, as they may as well be labelled Exposition-Bots. And there's one moment at the climax when a robot literally yells 'Oh no!' when he's about to be attacked.

The artwork is ok. Sketchy, like with Solar, and characters frequently suffer from what video comic review Linkara calls Youngblood's Disease, which is when the artist can't be bothered drawing eyes.

Another art problem is that characters look pretty dead-eyed at times, and in one such moment, the character's eye can be seen through their hair. And there's one moment where a speech bubble isn't coming from who it's meant to, but is instead just hovering in mid-air

All in all, this is decent, although this Magnus series seems like it's a repeat of what's come before, and may not put anything different on the table...

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