Doctor Solar: Man Of The Atom, Volume 2
Script by Jim Shooter
Art by Roger Robinson, Agustin Alessio, Diego Bernard
Cover by Michael Komarack
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: May 30, 2012
Cover Price: $15.99
I chose to review Doctor Solar: Man Of The Atom, Volume 2 because I really wanted to believe that Jim Shooter still has it. The “it” that I’m referring to is Shooter’s ability to create brilliant comics like the kind Marvel published with him in the 80s. I was still a young kid when Shooter was in his prime, but his contributions to comics are still felt to this day. That being said, when Shooter returned to Doctor Solar in 2010, the result was average at best. The first volume of Doctor Solar, Man Of The Atom was convoluted and utterly perplexing. With volume 2, I hoped that somehow, Shooter had turned it around. Fortunately, this time around the result is better, but not by much.
Doctor Solar, Man Of The Atom Volume 2 follows our protagonist in two parallel stories. The first storyline chronicles the rise of Tanek Nuro, a billionaire psychopath who has unlocked the secrets of the universe through computer emulation. Essentially, Nuro is hacking the universe to create and destroy whatever he pleases. If accessing the very fabric of the cosmos through a computer seems like a bizarre plot point, then what happens next is completely ridiculous. Nuro goes to control matter through a shiny rainbow ring and a visor in the style of Geordi La Forge. After finding out the true identity of Doctor Solar, Nuro terrorizes him with every bad guy clichÃ© possible. First, he goes for the all out, bomb your house method. After that fails, he kidnaps Doctor Solar’s girlfriend and then hires a super ninja. Everything about the villain Shooter has created is predictable. Right down to treating his assistant like garbage, Tanek Nuro is a one-note bore.
The second storyline in this volume focuses on the secret origins of Doctor Solar. These short intermissions between the sagas of Tanek Nuro are the most interesting thing about this trade. With terrific art by Agustin Alessio and a deep and introspective script by Shooter, this origin story is far superior to the first. Shooter seems to be channeling some of his classic techniques as he weaves the insecurities and hopes of Doctor Solar into his origin.
It is almost as if Shooter devoted every rational thought he had to this origin story and left everything else for the first story arc. Very little of Doctor Solar battling Tanek Nuro made sense in terms of consistency and continuity. Everything down to Doctor Solar’s powers is vague and sloppy. Yet, in his origin, Shooter creates something as grounded in reality as you can get from a guy named Doctor Solar.
Overall, this is a trade for diehard fans. If you are looking for a comic about a super man who received his powers from science, stick with The Hulk. At least there the villains have more than one dimension. For those of you who are committed to Doctor Solar, the well-crafted and beautifully illustrated origin story may be reason enough to read this trade.