Sunday, August 23, 2015

Solar Reflections Four!

In the fourth and final Dark Horse Doctor Solar Man of the Atom volume we find a delightful blend of vintage superhero yarns from across many many years as the series winds down and then gets revived a time or two.

Doctor Solar battles King Cybernoid in all the remaining Gold Key issues of the series, the android with the brain of Solar's longtime implacable foe Nuro. The series loses much of its distinctive science fictional flavor in attempting to achieve a purely superhero tone.

Dick Wood is the writer of record as the series tumbles along and Al McWilliams does one issue before giving way to Ernie Colon who gives the series a lighter touch and a bit more zip in terms of action. Jose Delbo steps in to handle the last issue of the 60's run.

Then in 1980 Whitman (formerly Gold Key) attempt to revive the series and publish for the first time the second part of the Wood-Delbo story which had begun a decade before. After that scribe Roger McKenzie is brought in to craft new stories with veteran Dan Spiegle handling the artwork. The tone of the McKenzie-Spiegle issues is completely different, very much in keeping with the slightly darker tone of comics of the late Bronze Age as Solar battles King Cybernoid for a final fatal time and a dour villain called the Sentinel.

The volume closes out with a blast to the Gold Key past with a singular issue of The Occult Files of Dr.Spektor in which Doctor Solar appears as a guest star to help rescue Spektor from a charge of murder. The story by Don Glut and the artwork by Jesse Santos is quite yummy.

And that's a wrap. Doctor Solar Man of the Atom was a product of the Cold War, when the glamour and effects of the atomic bomb were an all-consuming fascination for much of the world. Starting in 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis and wrapping up in the early 80's when the Cold War was nearing its final years, the character seems to embody that phenomenon in many ways.

But Solar was not done, not yet. More on the valiant efforts to revive Doctor Solar after Western Publishing's Gold Key and Whitman brands were long gone next time.

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