Sunday, August 16, 2015

Solar Reflections Three!

In the third volume of Doctor Solar Man of the Atom from Dark Horse we find a fully-realized superhero. Gold Key had been reluctant to dive into the superhero pool, clearly showing a disdain for the underwear crowd which commanded so much attention in the field. But eventually they follow the patterns and give us a Doctor Solar who functions in many ways like a hero in the classic modes.

Paul S. Newman, the ubiquitous writer for Gold Key continued to handle the chores on that end and Frank Bolle had successfully taken over the art, if his style was somewhat less dynamic than what had come before. With this team we continue to get stories which are rock solid science fiction such as when Doctor Solar is forced to travel back in time to stop a deadly doomsday device by going to before it began, and later he confronts a sun spun out of control and threatening to destroy the Earth itself.

Then the stories begin to focus more on the machinations of Solar's arch enemy Nuro, an obscure behind-the-scenes villain akin to many masterminds from the Bond films and other such tales. Nuro employs a robot, one who'd battled Solar before and makes of him a steady henchman and persistant threat to Doctor Solar. We get a glimpse of Nuro's face after many years of shadows and see that he has a rather porcine countenance. Nothing much is made of this, but it suggests a slight change in the tone of the series.

Those changes continue when veteran Al McWilliams steps into do some art on the series and we meet Hamilton Mansfield Lamont, who is Gale's nephew. This brilliant young man joins the cast which had long been comprised of love interest Gale and Dr.Solar's longtime boss and confidant Doctor Clarkson and soon becomes a nerdish Snapper Carr/Rick Jones like figure. You can for sure say that the Man of the Atom becomes a bonafide superhero when he gets a teen sidekick.

We also get a new villain, sort of when King Cybernoid is birthed as Nuro's intellect becomes entrapped in the robotic form of his henchman. This new more physical opponent again creates a more pure supehero dynamic for the book and draws it away from its sci-fi roots, though of course those notions still function to supply threats.

Here are the covers of the issues included in this volume.

Next time Doctor Solar really goes through some changes and we chase the character through the decades of the 70's and the 80's.

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