Each day in November, I will read and review/discuss/whatever one comic taken from a box of some of my childhood comics. Today, it’s Solar, Man of the Atom #25.
The Nostalgia November archive can be found here.
Solar, Man of the Atom #25 by Kevin VanHook and Peter Grau is really an expansion of the Dr. Eclipse/Solar fight that we saw in Secret Weapons #1. Expanding on the fight in Solar’s title makes a lot of sense since we basically see Solar get killed by Eclipse and to have that happen exclusively outside of his book is a bit of a slap in the face to regular readers. That said, this issue doesn’t really work, mostly because Eclipse’s attack comes out of nowhere and the expanded fight doesn’t really add to things. Granted, part of the point is that Eclipse is a surprise, but the issue doesn’t flow properly. We get a scene of Phil at the lab discussing physics and then there’s a fight, which isn’t particularly entertaining. Since the powers of both Solar and Eclipse are so ill-defined and broad, their fight doesn’t engage the reader. It’s two guys flying around, shooting energy beams at one another kind of… it’s boring. Not only that, but it seems like both are evenly matched thanks to their complete control over their own molecular structures… so how can Eclipse win? It’s like this issue of Solar reverses the dynamic of Secret Weapons #1 where we saw the context for Eclipse’s origin and his fight with Solar was brief and shocking — here, the arrival/appearance of Eclipse is brief and the fight is too long.
Aside from that, there’s a scene where Gayle calls the Eternal Warrior as that little group of characters prepare to fight Eclipse and Darque, but that adds little. This is an issue-long fight scene that is very, very boring. More than that, the dialogue between Solar and Eclipse isn’t exactly witty or insightful. It’s a little of pseudo-insane babbling on Eclipse’s part and a lot of heroic declarations or wimpy pandering on Solar’s part… I just wanted both characters to die somehow by the end.
Peter Grau’s art is softer than Joe St. Pierre’s, but not as competent. His work on the non-superhero scenes is great, but the fight is just awful. They go to Unreality, which is a Ditkoesque landscape that falls flat and looks lame. That Eclipse and Solar can alter their physical selves gives Grau license apparently to ignore any sense of anatomy or consistency for no reason.
I’m disappointed with this issue since it fails so utterly compared to Secret Weapons #1, which was far more interesting in its telling of the Eclipse/Solar fight.
Tomorrow, the story concludes in Secret Weapons #2.