Dark Horse's relaunch of classic heroes originally published by Gold Key begins May 1 with the Free Comic Book Day offering "Doctor Solar/Magnus, Robot Fighter," to be followed in June with the launch of a "Doctor Solar" ongoing, written by Jim Shooter with art by Dennis Calero. At their panel Friday afternoon at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo, Dark Horse officially confirmed that Shooter would also be writing the "Magnus" and "Turok" ongoing series, starting in July and August respectively, and that Bill Reinhold would be the artist on "Magnus." CBR News spoke with Shooter about all three projects, beginning with this discussion of "Doctor Solar" to be followed later this weekend with interviews on "Magnus" and "Turok."
In a previous interview with CBR (and in Friday's C2E2 panel), Shooter discussed the new Doctor Solar's origins in broad terms. CBR asked the writer what else he was able to reveal about the character at this stage. "In Doctor Solar's own words: 'I am the Master of the Unified Field. The God of Energy. The living embodiment of the power of the sun. The most powerful being in the universe, unless there is a God Almighty at the end of time, when all of reality collapses into a Singularity.'
"The same terrifying possibilities of cutting edge science that empowered Doctor Solar can also empower others, less well-intentioned - and that generates epic-scale super-hero action," Shooter said. "We introduce one or more new super-powered enemies in each issue of the first story arc, including Leviathan, Moloch the Devourer, Surya and more. We even get a glimpse of Nuro, who people may remember from the original series."
Discussing Doctor Solar's supporting cast, Shooter said that readers would see familiar faces from the classic Gold Key series, including Gail Sanders, Doctor Clarkson, Doctors Bently and Rasp, "plus some people you haven't met before - members of Doctor Solar's family, for instance."
As for the man behind the visor, Shooter said that, for all his godlike power, Solar would still be a relatable character. "Before becoming empowered, [Solar was] a very smart but very human guy. Afterwards, very smart, unimaginably powerful and still, in every other way, a very human guy," Shooter explained. "Human frailties are a blessing and a curse - it's scary to think of a god with human desires and failings, but keeping in touch with his humanity is what keeps us safe from him. To me, his greatest power is focus.
"His take on possessing godlike power is the same, I think, as yours or mine would be - unless you're more the Moloch type personality. Uh-oh."
Shooter is working with "X-Men Noir" artist Dennis Calero on the series, who interned with Shooter at Valiant Comics. Shooter said, though, that their shared history was not a factor in bringing him on to "Doctor Solar." "[Dark Horse Publisher] Mike Richardson suggested Dennis because he's good, and because Mike thought he was right for Doctor Solar," Shooter said. "I agree."
The first story arc, titled "Troublemaker," is not an origin story, focusing instead on the wider repercussions of Doctor Solar's rebirth. "The rippling quantum effects of the thermonuclear catastrophe that empowered Doctor Solar give rise to other anomalies. One of them, the Troublemaker, pursuing selfish ends that are actually sort of petty, causes far more terrible threats to arise that seriously endanger the world and everyone on it," Shooter said.
"This isn't an origin story, though it does tell you everything you need to know. The complete origin will appear in a zero issue, already scripted, that will come out down the road."
Asked about the classic appeal of Doctor Solar and which aspects would be carried over to the modern version, Shooter said, "'Doctor Solar' is iconic. It's fantastic super-heroic action-drama born from science run amok. Don't think it hasn't. Atomic energy and nuclear bombs scared us in the sixties, when the original Man of the Atom was created. Today, supercolliders currently in use could conceivably create black holes, magnetic monopoles or so-called 'strange matter' that could destroy the planet. Transhuman, or 'H+' engineering, nanotechnology, humankind's increasing ability to impose its will on nature, and more present terrifying possibilities, including the means to empower evil.
"All I tried to do in this redevelopment was to bring 'Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom' into the twenty-first century, honoring the core concepts, updating the science, ratcheting up the human drama and making the action far more spectacular."