Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who Needs The EPA When You've Got A Radioactive Giant? Doctor Solar Man of the Atom #10, January, 1965

In Doctor Solar Man of the Atom #10 by Dick Wood and Frank Bolle, the Earth's Polar Ice cap has fractured and is beginning to fissure into thousands of giant ice floes. The culprit is not Global Warming (yet) but rather a massive earthquake.

Deciding that this is "Washington stuff " (hey, the Navy doesn't even trust these guys with gloves) the "Big Berg" scouts send out a red alert that immediately gets forwarded to Atom Valley.

Luckily for those star-crossed nuclear physicists, Dr.Solar and Gail, Dr. Clarkson is on hand to explain the magnitude of the problem:

not Sverdrup!!

Anyway, a brain trust of scientists and military men is immediately called into action and Dr. Solar decides to attend- in his hero alter-ego of The Man of the Atom. For some reason, all the generals (and one snarky colonel who keeps calling Solar a "freak") want to use A-bombs to blow up or melt the icebergs. The Man of the Atom interjects that although he could melt the icebergs, it would flood the world. He also states that if he were to vaporize the ice, it would change our climate drastically, making Earth unlivable (like now). He does, however, propose another solution:

In order to pull this off, however, Solar is going to need more atomic energy than the Nuclear reactor at Atom valley can supply. Taking a tip from his own name, Solar heads to the biggest nuclear reactor he can find- Earth's Sun!

It's like a psychedelic, Dr. Solar Dance Party!!

Returning to Earth all charged up (the trip takes about 6 minutes at light speed) Solar seals the fissures in the Polar Ice Cap. He then returns to Atom Valley to make a startling discovery:

He's gotten big. Like Apache Chief big. Like Jimmy Olsen the Turtle Man big. BIG.

And, to make things weirder, there's suddenly a worldwide epidemic of electromagnetic disturbances. The Man of the Atom is immediately blamed.

I don't want to give away the rest of the story, but, as the cover implies, things get ugly before they get better. It is later discovered that the EM disturbances are caused by Sun Spots!

Also, I'm sure more than a few of you sharp cookies have noticed the resemblance between Doctor Solar and The Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan. Although Captain Atom is usually credited with being Dr. M's main inspiration, it's pretty apparent that more than a pinch of Dr. Solar has made it into that mix.


  1. Ghost: You are so right about the similarity between the two doctors. And, just like in the comic and movie with Dr. Manhattan, Doctor Solar and his love, Gail, grow quickly apart as the series progresses - as Solar becomes immortal. At the beginning of the series, she called him "Dr. Solar" in kind of a kidding way - usually just Raymond. By the middle of the run, she simply called him "Solar;" and their marriage was no longer mentioned.

  2. Mykal: Thanks for stopping by!! Yeah, I firmly believe that, although the Charlton heroes are the superficial inspiration for the Watchmen, Doctor Manhattan is about 98% Doctor Solar. The loss of Solar's humanity, his god-like powers- it all sets the stage for Dr. Manhattan's story arc.

    In fact, when I was reading this issue, I just kept thinking about that page in the Watchmen where Dr. Manhattan is "pacifying" the North Vietnamese, striding across the landscape as a big, blue giant.

  3. Ghost: Absolutely. Solar's detachment from the human race, as the series progressed, is exactly as Manhattan’s in that scene you mention (a great, great scene). As his powers solidify, Solar/Manhattan see only the "big picture." With both doctors, their concern for the human race has nothing to do with individuals - their concern is for the species of man - as though they were considering the preservation of insects. i.e.- individuals no longer matter.

  4. Always liked Frank Bolle's clean, distinctive style. Saw a lot of in Gold Key's 1970s mystery books.