cover image Dr. Solar: Man of the Atom, Volume 4

Dr. Solar: Man of the Atom, Volume 4

Dick Wood, and various. . Dark Horse, $49.95 (239pp) ISBN 978-1-59307-825-6

This archival reprint of the Silver Age's superhero stands as a stiff if warmly nostalgic document showcasing the abrupt transition of a cult favorite character from a clear-eyed do-gooder to a powerful yet tormented outcast. The volume collects the last five issues published in the late 1960s, before picking up the story again with five issues in the early 1980s. Our hero, who manipulates atomic energy into a vast array of superpowers, could not be more different from one age to the next. The quaint early stories recount unpretentious, repetitive battles of good against evil, with distinctive retro art by Colón. The later stories showcase a mercurial protagonist whose exploits are overshadowed by the desperate search for a cure to his condition, indicative of America's changing view of nuclear power. Surprisingly the most entertaining episode in the book is an issue of “The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor,” where our hero is little more than a supporting guest star. For those taking a stroll down memory lane or comic buffs dying to see the cultural implications of how characters evolve over time, the collection will be a useful addition. (Jan.)