Soon the wait will be over. SOLAR: MAN OF ATOM #1 is on sale this Wednesday, April 16, from Dynamite Entertainment. Whenever we see the return of a character, there's always the question of what to expect. Arvid Nelson, writer of WARLORD OF MARS, gave SOLAR writer, Frank Barbiere, the Arvid Treatment and asked him a few questions.
ARVID NELSON: Solar is one of those characters who’s so powerful he virtually transcends his humanity. He was pretty much a “good guy” in previous incarnations, but do you have any plans to take the character into darker territory? After all, you know what they say about absolute power. Or are you going to make Solar a little more vulnerable?
FRANK BARBIERE: In our incarnation of Solar we’ve really taken a new angle at looking at Phil’s transformation: we ask “How would this shape not only his life, but those of his immediate family?” We’ve spent a lot of time building a large supporting cast and developing the history of Phil’s family to make their reactions to the transformation meaningful and organic. It really adds a lot of weight to the character, reflects his decisions on a bigger scale. The big reveal that we’ve teased is that another character will take up the mantle of Solar in the opening arc. This gives us a really unique chance to show the difference between the choices Phil makes using his powers vs. this new character.
AN: Solar needs to “recharge” by absorbing radiation, and in a way that’s his kryptonite. But what about on an emotional, personal level? What are his vulnerabilities as a human being?
FB: Phil is by and large a pragmatic man of science. When he gets his powers, he doesn’t think “Wow, how can I help humanity?” he thinks “Wow, I can’t wait to explore the universe!” He’s the ultimate kid in the candy store, but his candy is science. Phil of course ends up (begrudgingly) getting lumped in with superheroes, but really uses his powers to serve his own interests; this thirst for knowledge has already had a huge impact on his family, and getting these godlike powers only furthers the void between them. He’ll come to see the error in his ways and deal with the repercussions, of course.
AN: Dark Matter, Higgs bosons, leftover neutrinos from the big bang... there’s a lot of amazing stuff going on in science right now, and Solar is a very Bill Nye the Science Guy kind of character. Are you digging into any bleeding edge science stuff for your adaptation?
FB: Here and there we’ll be playing with real science, but largely we’ll be seeing a new, less scientific character taking the mantle of Solar. The way she uses the powers vs. how Phil does is the real crux of our story--to show that superpowers are really only as valuable as the person who has them, that every individual is different and having great power simply serves as an extension of their character.
AN: Solar changed a lot from his original series in the 60s. There have been, by my reckoning, two major reincarnations of his character. So what’s the essence of Solar? What’re the thing-or-things about him that, if you change, he just kinda ain’t Solar no more?
FB: I think with Phil, his being a scientist really just defines who he is as a character. He champions logic, is married to his work, and leaves other stuff by the wayside. I think this has really spoken to some readers’ disconnects with Solar--he’s a hero largely disinterested in humanity. We’ve remedied this by having a new character take up the mantle, someone who is so different and has such a different viewpoint, that the project has really increased in scope and become a whole new book. But in doing so, I think we’ve amplified the classic elements of Solar and maybe shown how they’re a bit outdated.
AN: Which Valiant/Gold Key character would you most like to see in a Solar story?
FB: I think Solar and Doctor Spektor are a match made in heaven, being as one is a man of science and one is a man of magic. Those different viewpoints in character could make for some very interesting sparks--literally and figuratively. We have Phil who has these godlike abilities and attributes them to science, and having a magical character...well that just blows up Phil’s whole thesis right there.
SOLAR: MAN OF ATOM #1 is on sale this Wednesday, April 16. WARLORD OF MARS #100, by Arvid Nelson, is also on sale this week.