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Solar Man Of The Atom: Volume Two - Woman Of The Atom

    Ian Jane

  • Solar Man Of The Atom: Volume Two - Woman Of The Atom

    Solar Man Of The Atom: Volume Two - Nuclear Family
    Released by: Dynamite Entertainment
    Released on: July 15th, 2015.
    Written by: Frank J. Barbiere
    Illustrated by: Jonathan Lau
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    Picking up directly where the first trade left off (which makes sense, given that it ended on a cliffhanger and that this is an ongoing series), Dynamite's revitalized Solar Man Of The Atom series (yep, that classic Gold Key character just refuses to stay dead!) continues. Solar and Erica are running through the jungle, and she's getting tired of his 'advice' as a group of aliens give chase.

    Flashback to a scene where Solar points out to Erica the planet they need to go to in order to heal. They're stranded and they don't have the energy to get back to Earth. Before she agrees to that, however, she wants answers - what did he do on the other alien planet, how many people died because of his actions and why did he do it? She's not happy with the answer and tells him once they get back to Earth he can 'fix' her and she'll be on her way, she never wants to see her father again.

    They arrive on the planet and the aliens, led by Barrus, give them shelter for the night. They also agree to give them the energy they need and prepare for the ceremony required to make that happen. In doing so, Erica makes her own costume but they both soon realize that they're being played. Barrus wants to use them to barter for peace with a warring planet, to use them as living batteries. A fight breaks out and Erica manages to make contact with the cube that serves as the alien power source. That brings us full circle, back to that splash page - and then Erica teleports them…

    …into a garage of some sort inhabited by a giant hamster-like being. I turns out there's a whole bunch of them and they seem friendly enough but outside the planet that they're on now is being bombarded by radiation from a sun about to expire. Solar tells her that this is the way of the universe whereas she wants to help, it ties back to an event from her childhood, and she lashes out at him. She heads up to the planets sun and does what she can to recharge it but still unsure of her abilities, it doesn't go as planned. She does, however, succeed - but by doing so wakes up the neighbors in the form of a massive warship.

    Erica, sans Solar, sneaks into the ship while Solar, unbeknownst to her, is doing battle with a huge armada of enemy forces. Erica makes contact with a robot able to speak English. He explains that she onboard a Kandaari battleship and then notes that her DNA connects her to their 'creator/destroyer.' He notifies the leaders onboard the ship of her presence and they attack her immediately. Thankfully for her, Solar shows up to help her out and they're able to overload a circuit breaker and lock them out. Once they do, he apologizes to her and recognizes that she's far more powerful than he ever imagined. They decide to find and escape ship but Erica's power is running low again. They make it out, but not undetected and the Kandaari realize that the escape ship is on target for Earth - they decide to follow it, they cannot let Solar live.

    As Solar and Erica close in on their home planet, the entire Kandaari armada shows up and attacks the duo. Erica defends herself but rather than blow them all up like her father did years back, she decides to take an alternate approach. She wants to try and talk to the leader to find a peaceful solution.

    A fast paced tale of high concept sci-fi and fairly standard superheroics this one has all the snappy one liners and dialogue that you'd expect from a 'man (or in this case man and woman) in tights' story. What makes it more interesting than standard superhero fare, however, is the relationship that exists between Erica and her father. Barbiere's script does a good job of exploring that family dynamic and the issues that it involves by not only showing us the conflict that exists between them in the present but by using some well written flashbacks to tie the current events into Erica's past. These events have made her a more compassionate person than Phil had ever been and because of this, she's able to teach him as much as he's able to teach here. This is a theme early in the collection but it runs throughout the four issues collected here and hits a pretty serious high at the finish line.

    Complimenting Barbiere's smart and energetic script is some genuinely fantastic artwork from Jonathan Lau. Not only does he draw characters both human and alien incredibly well but he pours loads of detail into the backgrounds as well. The exterior scenes that take place on the different alien worlds all look great but so too do the scenes that take place inside the cold, mechanical confines of a spaceship. The way in which he lays out his panels is very often as striking and dramatic as it is creative and unique and the coloring from Luigi Anderson and Omi Remalante Jr. highlights all of this really nicely. All of this results in a book that looks just as good as it reads.

    We don't do a lot of superheroes around here, anyone who has even glanced at our comic review section will easily pick up on that, but Barbiere's run on Solar, in which he has collaborated with a series of talented artists, is a pretty great run so far. Put your preconceived notions of what a superhero comic should be and check this out, you'll be glad you did.

    In addition to the four issues contained in this story arc, we also get a nice cover gallery featuring the regular covers and the variants that were printed up for each issue.

    • Todd Jordan
      Todd Jordan
      Smut is good.
      Todd Jordan commented
      Editing a comment
      Frank Barbiere is a really good comic scribe. He's got some great ideas and fleshes them out to great effect. He's one of my favorites from the last number of years, although I doubt I could get past the superhero aspect of the story though. But I will give it a shot based on what you had to say about it. You've not steered me wrong that I can ever recall.

    • Ian Jane
      Ian Jane
      Ian Jane commented
      Editing a comment
      It's good stuff. Standard superheroics but with a twisted family dynamic aspect to the storytelling that makes it more interesting. He also does some high concept stuff with the morality of what happens and who is responsible for it. There's a lot more to this series than just people in tights.
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