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  Cool '60s sci-fi comic: Doc Solar!Jan 18, 2016 10:22 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Back in October I alluded to having picked up a neat comic book, and here I am finally getting around to writing about it: what I picked up back then, in digital form through Amazon's Comixology app, was Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom Archives Vol. 1, which collects the first seven issues of the monthly comic series from Gold Key Comics that began in October, 1962. I picked it up primarily for the sharp, stylish art by Bob Fujitani, who illustrated the first five issues; issues one and two also had really cool, graphically stylish sci-fi style covers painted by Richard M. Powers. These guys were heavy hitters: Fujitani had been illustrating comics since the early '40s, the "Golden Age" of American comic books, and Powers was one of the most prolific science fiction illustrators of the '50s and early '60s, with "more than 1500 covers and interior illustrations" to his credit (almost exclusively on books: the two covers he painted for Doc Solar constituted half of his total comic work, according to this Archive's introduction by comic writer and historian Mark Evanier), and for that matter, the writer, Paul S. Newman, is "credited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most prolific comic-book writer, with more than 4,100 published stories totaling approximately 36,000 pages."
 
And it's actually a pretty fun read: it's a science fiction story—scientist Solar gains the superhuman ability to change into energy after a nuclear accident in his lab—rather than the super-hero type of affair I was expecting—at least until midway through issue 5, when Solar dons a superhero-looking radiation containment suit (he was radioactive after the accident, and worked on in his office only after sealing it with "transparent cadmium-lead film," and wearing a business suit lined with more cadmium lead—and his attractive college chum Gail Sanders, whom he had recently brought onto his nuclear research project as a scientist, would be eternally wondering why he suddenly scorned her advances: he didn't want to expose her to too much of his own radiation—although he couldn't bring himself to tell her about it, a cause of some angst on both sides...mostly hers). Fujitani left the series soon afterwards. But those first four-and-a-half issues are really nifty: Newman had a much clearer idea than, say, Stan Lee, of how science worked, so even though the exact details may not quite add up, his stories are much more grounded and believable than the stuff Marvel Comics was churning out at the time. And (up until he dons the suit in issue 5) Solar solves his problems—many of which are instigated by saboteurs after the fruits of his genius—not with his fists, but with his brain. There should have been way, way more comics like this.
 
A sample from each of the first four issues—which each contained two Doc Solar stories—in order:
 
Image Image Image Image
 
Yeah! Love the bold, flat colors, too, but unfortunately the colorist is uncredited. (Unless it was Fujitani himself? That would have been a little unusual, though.)
 
 
 
 
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