In Review: Solar: Man of the Atom #4

The covers: Another five to fill your comic boxes and empty your bank account. The Main cover by Juan Doe is an almost god-like pose of Erica inside some...

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The covers: Another five to fill your comic boxes and empty your bank account. The Main cover by Juan Doe is an almost god-like pose of Erica inside some type of futuristic setting. This is a very stylized image with charcoal-esque texturing on her suit and the background being entirely black with thin lines of colors to suggest the setting. I didn’t even notice the first time I looked that the white shapes are bulky figures springing to attack–I just assumed they were part of the background. The Subscription cover is by Bob Layton based on Valiant Comics Issue #7 of this character by Barry Windsor-Smith, who’s nicely acknowledged by the signature. Erica is caught in a metallic web which is sending out electrical impulses to keep her restrained. Very slick and another excellent image. Dear Dynamite, please let Bob Layton do the interiors of ANY of your books. The first Incentive cover is by Jonathan Lau which is absolutely stunning. With her finger pointed like a gun, Erica indifferently pulls the trigger and one of her alien attackers from last issue is blown backwards, shattered by her power. Spiraling out of our heroine in a beautiful pattern is a cascade of mathematical formulae. The coloring on this is great, with a dark green background, light green for the math, the sterling scarlet on Erica, and the burnt silver on the antagonist. This is a major winner! The next Incentive is by Garry Brown featuring a swirl of elongated lime green arms reaching for Erica who’s running toward them in the center of the image. The coloring makes this seem from the 1960s. The image is okay, but nothing spectacular. The final Incentive is by Ken Haeser with another Li’l Solar, this time holding up the Earth with one hand. It’s cute, but why is it Phil and not Erica? I have to admit, I’m dying to see how Haeser would draw her. Overall grades: Main B, Subscription A, Incentive Lau A+, Incentive Brown C, and Incentive Haeser B-

The story: This book’s story only improves with every issue. When last we saw Erica she was surrounded by several giant, armored aliens. But before that starts, readers get a one page flashback of what happened to Phil Seleski accompanied by narrations on opportunity. Then it’s back to the action as Erica is getting beaten as her father’s ghost/essence/soul/new form continually provides suggestions to beat the aliens. A double-paged splash has her going into hero mode to start a fight until she comes up with a quick plan. A discovery on Page 7 results in “such a bad idea” that had me surprised on 8. I was really intrigued with what happened to the individual in the second and third panels on 9. A change of setting on 10 returns to a subplot with two supporting characters with one making a decision that will have major repercussions. The setting changes again on 12 with an awesome silent backstory on 13. I actually gave a “Hell, yeah!” for Page 14′s third panel. I loved the last bit of dialogue on 18 and thrilled at Page 20. I couldn’t have imagined Page 22 being any better and I was shocked by the final panel of the book. This is perfect storytelling from Frank J. Barbiere. Overall grade: A+

The art: I’m stunned that two artists were required for this book and this is only the fourth issue. Joe Bennett does Pages 2 – 11 and Jonathan Lau 12 – 23. Bennett’s pages are well done. The action sequences are slick with them occurring over the city. There’s not a lot detail in the art, as outlines are used for characters often (Page 8) and a blonde character on Page 11 has two awkward emotions at the top, but it moves the story forward from a variety of angles. Lau’s is more detailed oriented and has to tell the story without words (Pages 13 and 20 – 22), which has to be a more difficult job. Erica’s power also looks more cosmic, such as on Pages 15 and 18. The final panel is a nice example of subtlety to provide a strong reaction in readers. Bennett’s work is acceptable and Lau’s work is great. Overall grade: B+

The colors: A pair of colorists for this issue’s pair of artists. Since pages aren’t specified in the credits (C’mon, Editor Nate Cosby, help the fans out!), I’m going to assume Mauricio Wallace did Pages 2 – 11 and Luigi Anderson did 12 – 23. Wallace does standard comic book coloring in three colors: blue, red, and grey. Shading is done to give the shapes some depth, but this work is average. Anderson’s work stands out much more. This may be due to the quality of the art. Page 20 has very little dialogue, so the coloring is easier to focus on and appreciate. I also like the red and yellow of the final panel of the issue. Overall grade: B+

The letters: Narration (with lower case letters–nice!), dialogue, sound effects, alien speak, and choked mutterings come courtesy of some talented individual who’s not credited within the book’s credits. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Heroics made under pressure are always entertaining and this is highly entertaining. This is a Gold Key character whose adventures everyone should be following. Overall grade: A-

By Patrick Hayes

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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