Solar (comics)

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Solar
DarkHorseDoctorSolar.jpg
Promotional art by Michael Komarck for Dark Horse Comics' Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #1 (July 2010)
Publication information
Publisher Gold Key Comics
Valiant Comics
Acclaim Comics
Dark Horse Comics
Dynamite Entertainment
First appearance Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom #1 (Oct. 1962)
Created by Paul S. Newman
Matt Murphy
In-story information
Alter ego (Dr.) Raymond Solar
Phil Seleski
Frank and Helena Seleski
Philip Solar
Notable aliases Doctor Solar
Man of the Atom
Abilities Convert body into any form of energy
Generate, manipulate, absorb, & convert energy
Fire energy blasts
Flight

Solar is an American fictional comic book character. Originally known as Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom, he first appeared in a comic book published by Gold Key Comics in the 1960s. He has since appeared in other incarnations in books published by Valiant Comics in the 1990s, and Dark Horse Comics in the 2000s.

Publication history[edit]

Gold Key Comics[edit]

Gold Key Comics' Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom #14 (Sept. 1965). As with other Gold Key Comics, the covers featured full-color painted art rather than the standard line-artwork used in the interior pages.

The original Doctor Solar was a physicist named Dr. Raymond Solar who attempted to assist fellow worker Dr. Bently avert an imminent meltdown of the nuclear power plant where they worked, which had been sabotaged by Dr. Rasp, agent of an evil mastermind named Nuro. Bently lost his life trying to prevent the meltdown while Solar absorbed a massive amount of radiation in the process, surviving and discovered that he had gained the ability to convert his body into any kind of nuclear energy. Using his new powers, Solar began searching for Nuro, who would become Solar's arch-nemesis. Nuro used a robot double of himself called Orun and later transferred his mind into it, calling himself King Cybernoid.

Doctor Solar didn't gain a superhero costume until the fifth issue of his comic, with which he became known as "The Man of the Atom". In addition, his skin turned green whenever he used his powers.

His original run lasted 27 issues from Oct. 1962 to April 1969. In the early 1980s, the series resumed with issue #28 and lasted four issues. Solar also appeared in issues 14, 18 and 23 of another Gold Key title, Dr. Spektor.

Valiant Comics[edit]

In the early 1990s, Doctor Solar, Turok, and Magnus, Robot Fighter were licensed by Valiant Comics, which used the characters as part of editor Jim Shooter's new superhero line. A number of changes were made to the character and his back-story. The new version (now known simply as Solar) was a physicist named Phil Seleski. Seleski was a fan of the Gold Key line, especially the adventures of Doctor Solar. One day, Seleski and his colleagues were testing a new type of fusion reactor. When an accidental breach threatened to obliterate the entire area, Seleski rushed to shut down the reactor. He succeeded, but he was exposed to lethal doses of radiation in the process. Amazingly, the exposure didn't kill him but instead gave him the ability to manipulate all forms of energy. Seleski tried to use his powers for the good of mankind by attempting to destroy the world's supply of nuclear weapons. The US government tried to stop him; however, their efforts caused Seleski to lose control of his powers, which in turn caused Earth to fall into a giant black hole.

Valiant Comics' version of Solar by Barry Windsor-Smith.

Seleski was thrown several weeks back in time. The guilt over his role in the destruction of his world caused him to split into two beings: Doctor Solar, who believed him to be Seleski's childhood hero; and Phil Seleski, who retained all the memories of the original. Seleski sought to prevent the accident that gave him his powers from taking place. His efforts were complicated by the presence of Doctor Solar, who was convinced that Seleski was a dangerous criminal. Eventually, Seleski convinced his alter-ego that they needed to work together, and the two of them fused with the past version of Seleski and prevented the accident. In the process, they discovered that Seleski's fusion reactor was actually a "wish machine" that allowed anyone within close proximity to change the universe in any way they saw fit. Before the original accident, Seleski wished that he could become his childhood superhero. As a result, the reactor simulated the events that gave the original Doctor Solar his powers. Seleski also found out that he didn't travel to the past but instead recreated his universe after falling into the black hole. However, this Earth was now populated by a large number of super-powered beings.

The revelations inspired Seleski to take up the mantle of his childhood hero, becoming known as Solar, Man of the Atom.

Solar went on to have several adventures, fighting a wide variety of threats such as the Spider Aliens, malevolent Harbingers and Mothergod. He survived for several centuries and blew himself up in 4000 A.D. in an effort to stop the Spider Alien invasion of Earth.

Acclaim Comics[edit]

In 1994, Valiant Comics was purchased by Acclaim Entertainment, a video game company. In 1997, when Acclaim Comics restarted all its comics properties from scratch, Solar's origin was given a peculiar bend, linked to the very origin of Acclaim's new continuity.

While the original Doctor Solar, Phil Seleski, still existed, a one-shot special (Man of the Atom) revealed that the Acclaim Universe was an alternate Valiant Universe timeline that was accidentally created by Solar. Another one-shot, named Revelations, followed and had Solar departing after leaving a portion of his powers to the Seleski twins, Frank and Helena, introduced in Man of the Atom. Frank and Helena became the Acclaim Universe's Solar. Their role in the new Acclaim Universe and their relationship with the Valiant Universe’s Solar was explored in the subsequent four-issue series, Hell on Earth.

Even with some success in the comics, Acclaim suffered from too much debt due to major flops of its video games. In 2004, the company filed for bankruptcy and put its assets up for auction. The license for Solar lapsed, with the rights reverting to Classic Media, which acquired Western Publishing's properties in 2001.

Dark Horse Comics[edit]

Writer Jim Shooter and artist Dennis Calero at a signing for Dark Horse Comics' Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #1, at Midtown Comics Times Square, July 17, 2010.

Random House licensed Dark Horse Comics to reprint the Gold Key issues in the form of a hardcover anthology series, similar to the DC Archive series, in 2007. In 2009 it was announced at San Diego Comic Con that Jim Shooter, the founder of Valiant Comics, would be working for Dark Horse Comics to develop new series based on the Gold Key characters, including Doctor Solar Man of The Atom, Mighty Samson, Magnus, Robot Fighter, and Turok Son of Stone. Dark Horse published a new Solar series that ran eight issues, plus a preview issue. A trade paperback collection was released that collected the preview issue and #1-4 of the comic in its first volume, and the remaining issues (#5-8) in its second volume.

Dynamite Entertainment[edit]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Powers and abilities[edit]

A thoroughly trained scientist, specializing in nuclear physics, Dr. Solar, due to his being irradiated, is now, in effect, a living nuclear battery. No longer dependent on food and water – in fact, no longer having either a heartbeat or a human metabolism – he obtains the energy he needs by exposing himself to nuclear radiation. After absorbing such radiation, especially in large amounts, his skin turns green. It is often several hours before his skin color returns to normal, especially if he has absorbed a larger amount of energy than normal. As a result, he has to wear clothing impregnated with cadmium and lead, and wear specially made dark glasses to protect his coworkers from radiation poisoning. The uniform he later adopts is also lined with cadmium and lead. A visor shields his eyes. On his belt there is almost always a small pouch containing radioisotopes in pill or capsule form which he can swallow to boost his energy level in an emergency.

As with any battery, Solar becomes weaker as he draws upon his stored-up energy for various purposes. If too much energy is expended, however, Solar weakens rapidly. More than once, Solar has nearly died when his energy reserves were depleted too rapidly or too much. In some cases, Solar has absorbed so much energy that he has grown to an enormous size, only to shrink back to normal dimensions once the excess energy has been expended. In one case, he absorbed energy from a pile of nuclear waste that his arch-enemy, Nuro, was using to power a gold accumulator in the Pacific Ocean. Fearing that he would lose so much energy that he would not be able to maintain control over his own atomic structure, Solar was forced to retreat. He later resolved this problem, and then returned to destroy the accumulator, thereby foiling Nuro's plot.

Solar can draw upon his stored-up energy at will, releasing and directing it into virtually any form he chooses. He can also use it to defy gravity, thus giving him the power of flight. He can also produce a "heat exchange" effect to reduce an object's temperature to absolute zero in a matter of seconds. He can also manipulate matter at the atomic and sub-atomic level, although the energy cost is usually quite high. (In one instance, Solar was able to change a huge iron meteorite into titanium through a form of neutron bombardment called "transmutation," although his nuclear reserves were almost fatally depleted in the process. (He was able to restore his energy by flying a small satellite rocket into the Van Allen radiation belt.)) Finally, if his energy level is high enough, he can travel through time, and has done so on several occasions.

As a scientist at a government nuclear research facility known as "Atom Valley," Solar is constantly engaged in nuclear and nuclear-related research. His unique powers enable him to work without the need for lead shielding, since he can absorb radiation and store it up for his own use. In addition, in his secret identity of "The Man of the Atom," Solar is always ready to use his powers to aid the public when the need arises.

Collected editions[edit]

  • Valiant Comics
    • Alpha and Omega hardcover slipcase (March 1994) - Collects # 1–10 (back-up stories); written by Jim Shooter; art by Barry Windsor-Smith & Bob Layton
    • Alpha and Omega trade paperback format edition (March 1994)
    • Second Death trade paperback (September 1994) - Collects # 1–4 (lead stories); written by Jim Shooter; art by Don Perlin & Bob Layton

External links[edit]