Friday, September 12, 2014
Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #5, #6, #7, #8 (Dark Horse Comics)
Only one more post, and I'll have finished talking about Dark Horse Comics' disastrous Gold Key remake line! Today, I'll be looking at the final four issues of Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom.
Nuclear scientist Doctor Phillip Solar received amazing superpowers when he was caught in a black-hole reactor meltdown. Unfortunately, Tanek Nuro, the CEO of company Lovejoy, and the man responsible for sabotaging the reactor, is angry that Solar has been empowered, as he intended to use the accident to give himself energy abilities. He manages to find a way to recreate Solar's superpowers for himself, and after using his powers to make several people into super-metallic power beings, Nuro sends them after his enemy. Meanwhile, Gail, Solar's love interest and coworker, is also in danger, and Solar has to save her as well as deal with Nuro...
Solar Rise is a four-part backup story spread out over these issues, and the quality of writing is much better than the rest of the series! That's not saying much, but it's still nice.
There are a few problems with this story, such as poor transitions between the chaos inside the reactor, the rest of the plant, and the flashbacks at the plant. The villain Nuro's plan is also too vague! If it was explained more, then I wouldn't find him to be so ineffectual!
There's a pretty sizable continuity error in regards to Gail. It doesn't make sense that she starts working at Atom Valley the very day before the accident. Previous issues make it clear that she's worked there for a while. Either that, or Phil is head over heels in love (as in, 'stronger than death' love) with someone he's known for four hours, and is an obsessive psychopath! It's the former though. The writing in this series sucks.
The final problem with this story's writing is that there's a character who's railing against Solar's reactor, and he's 'subtly' named Dr. Dingus! I am not joking!
The artwork here (different from the rest of the series) is quite good, and certainly better than the art in the regular story...but there is one big screwup-Doctor Solar before the accident is meant to be fat, yet is drawn slim! Also, he constantly suffers from Youngblood's Disease.
Revelation Part 1: That Day of Wrath
Notable this issue are two really dumb moments! The first is when Nuro watches the recording of Solar getting his powers, and doing so actually affects the past! "I suspect that your virtual presence in this emulation threw off his calculations." says Nuro's assistant Choudhury. This was stupid in She-Hulk, and it's stupid here! In that comic, She Hulk was watching a memory, and here, the evil scientists are watching a recording! That's it! This should not be affecting anything!
The other scene is the dumbest thing I've read in a long while! Nuro sends a reanimated corpse to Solar with a sealed-up black hole, ready to let it loose once it approaches its target. The black hole is freed, and Solar acts quickly, tossing the thing into space before it can destroy everything. In his own words, the situation is now resolved because "There's nothing for it to accrete in space". WHAT?! WHAT?! BLACK HOLES ARE ALWAYS IN SPACE! And if there's one right next to Earth, Earth is doomed! Issue, you fail at science! Speaking of, what moron uses a black hole suicide bomber? It'd grow and pull in all of the planet, rendering their whole plan of taking it over rather useless!
Revelation Part 2: That Dreadful Day/That Fateful Day
Yeah, the copyright page and the comic itself couldn't get the damn title of this issue straight! Mark of quality!
This continues the storyline, with not much happening at all. I mean, there is a nuclear ninja, but it's nowhere near as awesome as it sounds.
A stupid and pointless dialogue exchange this issue is when Nuro asks Choudhury who Solar cares about, so they can take a hostage. Choudhury suggests a few names, eventually settling on Gail's, and he asks if he should arrange her kidnapping...Then Nuro says that he's already arranged for someone to kidnap Gail. Then why did you ask him for suggestions if you'd already knew who to take, and already sent out someone TO take her?!
Revelation Part 3: Heaven and Earth/...When Heaven and Earth
Yes, there was a title discrepancy between the issue, and its copyright page again with this series! The title is stupid anyway, as it's nonsensical with the 'When' and ellipses. When Heaven and Earth what? What was the first part of the sentence? What the hell?
This issue is basically a fight scene. The first page, with Solar trying to get Gail to call the police and failing is amusing, but aside from that, there's not much to enjoy here.
One especially poorly written part here is when Nuro, wanting to fight Solar, has the plan of setting this brawl in a place full of innocents...in a jail! Um, dude, I'm *pretty sure* that Solar won't give two shits about dangerously cutting loose with his powers in a place full of rapists and murderers! And bafflingly enough though, the ensuring fight scene at this location is completely abandoned. Huh?!
Solar is a dumbass this issue. For one, he debates the ethics of hitting a woman who's trying to kill him with superpowers! Shut up and sock her, you dickweed! Priority calls! Especially stupid is that Solar doesn't want to kill these empowered people as 1, he doesn't want to kill people, and 2, he assumes that they were unwillingly empowered (for literally no reason), yet once the fight's over, Solar restores the gravity around the trio to normal, sending them plummeting into the Earth thanks to their super dense cellular structure! Solar, dude, nevermind the fact that you totally just killed those three-What about the damage to the Earth you just caused?! Now, he does bring them back up onto the surface and restore them to normal once the fight is over, but they must have been crashing through the Earth at an insane speed for several minutes, making a hole deeper than the one in Doctor Who episode Inferno! Also, in the previous fight, one of the superpowered people had their arms blown off, and after returning the trio to normal, Solar mentions that he hopes the armless guy is taken to the hospital and treated for his wounds, despite the fact that he's clearly drawn with both arms back in his human form!
Revelation Part 4: ...All Fall Away
Oooh, so that's what the title of Issue #3 connects to!...Yeah, it's still stupid.I rarely like it when two-part stories have the one title separated over issues by ellipses.
This is an extremely poor concluding issue to this storyline. It's anticlimactic, the story thus far has only amounted to 'Nuro wants Solar Dead', and the other problem...I'll get into that later!
This isn't a very well-written storyline at all! It's got a crappy villain, flimsy story, multiple boring action scenes (made boring mainly due to the writing behind them), and an unforgivable conclusion! There's an annoying amount of poor expository dialogue. Some dialogue is just plain confusing! The worst crime of these issues is the extremely shaky science used! In one scene, it even has the balls to dismiss particular legit fields of science as being 'incorrect'.
Solar continues to be a boring hero. We know nothing about him (figuratively, I mean), or why he'd even want to be a superhero. His childhood backstory in the Solar Rise backup story is interesting, but it hardly fleshes out his character.
One thing about this series that's awkward as hell is that the title character's normal name is Solar! With the original Gold Key comics, it's fine, as Solar was never his superhero name, nor were his powers derived from the sun, so there was no confusion to be had. Yet thanks to Jim Shooter's efforts in the 90's, the character's superhero name was changed to Solar. 70 issues later, reverting back to having Solar be the character's real name is just confusing!
The fact that everyone in this series calls Solar 'Red Suit' (constantly!) makes me wonder if Jim Shooter has even read the Gold Key comics! What was Solar's superhero name in that series if not Solar? The Man of the Atom! Y'know, the part of the title that Jim Shooter has ignored for twenty years! You'd think Shooter would know better! Or does he genuinely believe Red Suit, and The Red Suit Guy are snappier titles than The Man of the Atom!
Gail isn't very developed at all, and the fact that she's a quantum scientist, and therefore incredibly smart, plays into nothing. As for her getting together with Phil at the end of the storyline, it's rushed!
Nuro is a crap villain. He's not intimidating, not well-characterised, and while part of the way he gets his powers is interesting, its nonsensically written! By wearing VR glasses showing a recording of a guy getting superpowers in a black hole, this gives Nuro superpowers!
This issue commits a horrible crime regarding its main villain. You know what happens? Nuro's long-suffering assistant Choudhury gets angry and tries attacking Nuro...and is easily vaporised by the series' main villain. Nah, I'm just kidding. Choudhury totally kills Nuro! Nuro is meant to be the big bad of this series, and he's killed in one panel by a glass coffee pot to the head by his assistant! I am not joking! Maybe at this point Jim Shooter knew there'd be no more issues, and decided to end the storyline in the stupidest possible way!
As for Shooter's everpresent misogyny, there's only one possible example of it here, with a scene of a woman's hanging bloodied, naked (albeit censored by shading) corpse. If the writer here was anyone else, I probably wouldn't have a problem with this scene, but given Shooter's track record, I doubt this is a coincidence!
The artwork here is crummy. It's not terrible for the most part, but not all that good either, with sketchy, poorly shaded characters. It's almost Frank Miller-lite in some places, both Choudhury's skin tone and hair colour keep changing from scene to scene, and Solar looks Liefeldian with his muscular structure at some points! The covers, however, are great, even if they are total non-sequiturs.
One final thing of note is these issues' obsession with the word 'accrete'. This whole series won't stop using this word!
In closing, Jim Shooter can't write. He is an editor, not a friggin' writer! This has become blatantly clear to me, and aside from his four issue Mighty Samson run (the final Dark Key series), I only have a scant few issues of Valiant's Solar series, and the Unity crossover to review, and then I don't have any intention to read another thing by this guy any time soon! Thank Heaven for small favours though, such as the fact that Shooter has been booted out of so many comic companies, from Marvel, to Dark Horse (well, that was a failure more than a firing), and Valiant, which is especially hilarious, since he co-founded Valiant! Dude just can't catch a break! Who knew Secret Wars II would be the high point of Jim Shooter's career!...