Promotional art by Michael Komarck for Dark Horse Comics' Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #1 (July 2010)
|Publisher||Gold Key Comics
Dark Horse Comics
|First appearance||Gold Key Comics October 1962|
|Created by||Paul S. Newman
|Alter ego||(Dr.) Raymond Solar
Frank and Helena Seleski
|Notable aliases||Doctor Solar, Man of The Atom|
Convert body into any form of energy
Ability to manipulate matter at the atomic level
Blast bolts of energy
Ability to generate, manipulate, absorb, & convert energy
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.
Gold Key Comics
The original Doctor Solar was a physicist named Dr. Raymond Solar. He was exposed to a massive amount of radiation in an attempt to assist a fellow worker, Dr. Bently. Bently lost his life trying to avert an imminent meltdown due to sabotage of a nuclear power facility by Dr. Rasp, agent of an evil mastermind named Nuro. Solar survived and soon discovered that he had powers to convert his human form into any kind of energy. Use of these powers depleted his "store" of energy which would require him to re-expose himself to radiation sources for replenishment. Using his new powers, he began searching for Nuro, who would clash with Solar many times. Nuro often used a robot "double" of himself called Orun in his schemes, and later transferred his mind into Orun, and was known as King Cybernoid.
Doctor Solar did not have a superhero costume until the fifth issue of his comic. Furthermore, "Doctor Solar" was his 'real' or 'civilian' name. When he went into action, he was known as "The Man of the Atom". His costume was intended to shield others from his radiation. In addition, when he used his powers, his skin turned green.
His original run lasted 27 issues (cover-dated Oct. 1962 to April 1969). In the early 1980s, the series resumed with issue #28 and lasted four issues. Solar also appeared in an issue of another Gold Key title, Dr. Spektor #14.
In the early 1990s, Doctor Solar, Turok, and Magnus, Robot Fighter were licensed by Valiant Comics, which planned to use 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 did not kill him. Instead, it gave him an ability to manipulate energy. Seleski tried to use his powers for the good of mankind. He became determined to destroy the world's supply of nuclear weapons. The US government tried to stop him. Unfortunately, their efforts caused Seleski to lose control of his powers, which in turn caused Earth to fall into a giant black hole.
Seleski was thrown several weeks back in time (or so he thought). The guilt over his role in destruction of his world caused him to split into two beings: Doctor Solar, who believed himself to be Seleski's childhood hero; and Phil Seleski, who retained all the memories of the original. Seleski sought to prevent an accident that gave him 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 managed to convince his alter-ego that they needed to work together. They 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 did not travel to the past. After falling into a black hole, he tried to recreate his universe. For the most part, he succeeded. However, there were several important differences, the most important of which was that 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. He became known as Solar, Man of the Atom.
Solar went on to have many adventures, fighting a wide variety of threats, from Spider Aliens to malevolent Harbingers to Mothergod. He survived for many centuries. He blew himself up in an effort to stop the Spider Alien invasion of AD 4000.
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 Valiant's Solar was explored in the subsequent four-issue series, Hell on Earth.
During the "Unity 2000" crossover, it was revealed that besides Acclaim's new universe (VH-2) and the simultaneously-existing parallel universe where the Phil Seleski version of Solar still existed (VH-1) there was still a third universe, unofficially dubbed VH-0, which had the Valiant characters as they would be if Acclaim did not decide to reboot their continuity. VH-0's Solar rallied heroes from that Universe to stop Acclaim Universe's Master Darque from causing a multiverse-wide disaster. According to the series plot, the other heroes would eventually discover that Solar had his own malevolent agenda in mind. Since Unity 2000 wasn't published beyond issue 3, this never came to pass.
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
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.
Fictional character biography
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Powers and abilities
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 obtain the energy he needs by exposing himself to nuclear radiation. After absorbing such radiation, 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 on several occasions when his energy reserves are 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 his own atomic structure, Solar was forced to retreat. He later resolved this problem, and returned to disable and 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. Finally, if his energy level is high enough, he can travel through time, and has done so on several occasions.
As a scientist at "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.
- 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
- Dark Horse
- Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom ISBN 1-59307-285-6 (reprints #1–7)
- Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom ISBN 1-59307-327-5 (reprints #8–14)
- Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom ISBN 1-59307-374-7 (reprints #15–22)
- Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom ISBN 1-59307-825-0 (reprints #23–31, Occult Files of Dr. Spektor #14)
- Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom Volume 1 ISBN 1-59582-603-3 (reprints Free Comic Book Day: Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom/Magnus, Robot Fighter and issues #1 - 4 of the Dark Horse Comics Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom series.)
- Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom Volume 2 ISBN 1-59582-921-0 (reprints issues #5 - 8 of the Dark Horse Comics Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom series.)
- Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom (1962 Gold Key series) at the Comic Book DB
- Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom (1991 Valiant series) at the Comic Book DB
- Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom (2010 Dark Horse series) at the Comic Book DB
- McLelland, Ryan (September 24, 2003). "Valiant Days, Valiant Nights - A Look Back at the Rise and Fall of Valiant". Newsarama. Archived from the original on November 9, 2009.
- International Hero Gold Key Dr.Solar page
- International Hero Solar, Man of the Atom page
- Don Markstein's Toonopedia article on Doctor Solar
- Comic bookDB character page