Solar, Man of the Atom:
Alpha & Omega

by Jim Shooter,
Barry Windsor-Smith
(Valiant, 1994)

Let's take a trip back to 1994, when the now-defunct Valiant Comics was still alive, kicking and producing fan-favorite material. Much of that work, though ridiculously overpriced in the back-issue market (yes, I thought so THEN, as well), was popular for good reason; it was great comic work. Case in point: Solar, Man of the Atom: Alpha & Omega. This was the "revamped" origin tale of the character originally published by Gold Key Comics in the 1960s and '70s.

Phil Seleski was the man who designed the reactor at the Edgewater Advanced Fusion Energy Research Center, a distinction of which he was quite proud ... until the day that the containment unit was breached and radiation flooded the small town of Muskogee, Okla. It also seared the flesh from Seleski's bones as he sought to shut the reactor down. What it didn't do was kill him. Instead, Seleski was infused with energy and bestowed with great power -- power that made him seem almost ... godlike.

Writer Jim Shooter crafted a wonderful tale, with a tip of the hat to the original creators of the character, but adding a fresh coat of characterization. Possessed of such awesome power, Seleski wants to help people, while the government wants him and his power contained. Yet, underneath it all, there is something scary about Phil Seleski, like a powder keg, waiting to explode.

Artist Barry Windsor-Smith has a realistic rendering style that fits the story very well. While his range of character expressions could have been wider for this story (facial expressions often seem too subdued), his sense of anatomy and mechanical draftsmanship lend much to the tale.

I should add that this book is NOT just for fans of superhero comics, as there are no costumes or supervillains to be found -- just a fun story with a science-fiction flavor. Solar is recommended for those who enjoy action/adventure, sci-fi or superhero tales.

- Rambles
written by Mark Allen
published 13 September 2003