REVIEW: Solar: Man of the Atom #12

Story: Frank J. Barbiere
Art: Jonathan Lau
Letters: Omi Remalante
Colors: Anthony Marques
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Release Date: May 13,2015

Having nearly limitless power has it drawbacks. I guess. I mean, I personally don’t know of any, but I’m sure they exist. These drawbacks. While I have neither the experience nor the expertise to comment on such, I’m sure Solar: Man of the Atom has enough of both to make anyone second guess their desire for the ability to play with the fabric of reality.

If you’ve been following along with the series reboot, you’re aware that Solar isn’t so much a “man” of the atom anymore as “woman” of the same – specifically the daughter of brilliant scientist and original Solar, Phil Seleski. Erica Seleski, along with her CEO brother, inherited her father’s powers following an accident that also left Phil without a body. It wasn’t all lasers from the hands and spontaneous flight — Erica inherited Phil, too. Or his essence…molecular remnant? The book never really explains exactly what state of being Dr. Seleski is in now, but his “ghost” still manages to appear in the Solar costume. So, that’s pretty weird.

Other than that bothersome bit, the book has been an awesome read. Watching Erica develop into a superhero has been funny and inspiring. She’s the complete opposite of her father, in terms of her approach to superheroing. Where Phil is the consummate scientist, reciting chemical formulas and mathematical equations to activate his powers, Erica has a much more improvisational style. Besides that aesthetic difference, they each seem to have a fundamentally different philosophy when it comes to problem solving.

Maybe it’s Barbiere’s way of commenting on the differences between the sexes, or maybe the dissimilarity between right- vs left-brain thinkers, or maybe I’m just projecting my own views onto things here, but whatever the case, there’s little doubt that Phil tries to solve things through objective reasoning and more often than not mucks things up. Erica, however, uses her intuition and her training as an artist to feel her way through problems and arrive at some incredibly creative solutions.

As far as the technical stuff, this book uses a lot of variably sized as well free-floating panels that give off the sense of a stream-of-consciousness narrative. At times this allows the pages to move quickly, but not in a way that feels rushed. In other moments that method brings things into a little more focus by letting us get a peek inside the character’s heads. Lau and Marques continue to fire on all cylinders even as this particular part of Erica’s story comes to an end.

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The journey to this place has been circuitous, but as this is the final issue, there was bound to be some significant conflict resolution. No disappointments there, as the battle with Eclipse is appropriately grand; but there’s also some sentimental stuff happening with Phil and Erica that I knew was on the way. I can’t lie, though, there’s a point in the book that kind of got to me. The moment was poignant even though I knew something like it was coming; Lau’s rendition of the scene stimulates an emotional reaction that would move even the stoniest of hearts. Likewise, the touching exchange between the super-powered father and daughter is Barbiere at his finest.

This is definitely a must read issue.

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