Story: Frank J. Barbiere
Art: Jonathan Lau
What They Say:
Even when you can do basically anything, saving the entire world is a tall order. But Erica doesn’t have much choice, because EVERY NUCLEAR MISSILE on Earth has been activated and primed to wipe out civilization. it’s up to her and her dad (and her dad’s math) to keep the flying things that blow up from blowing up.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With one more issue in this series to go, Solar, Man of the Atom has a lot of ground to cover here. It’s been a weird ride to be sure and the last couple of issues in particular as we got back to Earth. While I had hoped for things to settle a bit and figure out where to go, it shifted gears fast with some wonky corporate dealings that went awry and then brought in Spektor to add some mysticism to the mix before it all comes to a close. For me, the real draw here has been Erica for most of the run and she definitely has some good material here, but it feels a bit off in a way after all that she’s accomplished so far in her outer space adventures. But then again, it’s all the more real when it’s your own home planet that’s facing the threat of extinction.
A small but important part of this issue is that it’s doing what it can to bring the father-daughter relationship to a sense of closure here, which is good since the two have had a difficult time overall throughout the whole thing. While there have been some good moments as each has learned to respect the other, it all gets dealt with in a really strong way here that affirms that the two truly do care about each other and that care has been there all along. The opening gives us a look at Erica as a child and the awkward way Phil interacted with her, being unsure of how to handle kids in some ways, but it paints a good picture of him and establishes a connection to the present. So when things do get serious towards the end here, While their conversation is naturally brief in the face of planetary extinction, it has the right kind of weight to it because of what’s added in this issue but also because of their journey overall across the series.
Of course, facing the end of the world will have people saying truths they might not otherwise, and with Erica seeing an array of nuclear weapons flying across the skies, it does just that and puts some real fear into her. That plays out well, but it gets distracted by seeing the weirdness going on with Spektor and her brother as they’re taken by the darker side of things. Spektor’s plan goes to crap pretty quickly because of her brother, but it’s all towards the purpose of making a Dark Solar for Erica to face in the end. This has been building a bit in the last couple of issues, but it still feels rushed and not fleshed out well enough for me to invest in. Thankfully, the material with Erica and Phil is what delights the most here, especially visually with its color design, and the weight of them facing off against so much destructive capacity works better than the more “personal” threat we get at the end with the Dark Solar.
I’ve been rooting for this series from the get go and have been frustrated at times to be sure, and this issue reflects some of that once again. The father and daughter material works well as it’s been an integral part of the series since the start and it feels natural that it’s hit the point it has against the backdrop that we get. That backdrop works well too, even if it feels very out of place and rushed since we’ve just dropped back into this world and things went to hell quickly. But visually, it works well. What left me less than enamored is what we get with Spektor and Erica’s brother and the Dark Solar material because it really needed time to be fleshed out and built up so that it feels like we really have a connection and investment in it. As it is here, it’s just something to be dispatched in the final issue rather than something of meaning. It’s a fun ride and I’m not glad that it’s concluding in the next issue, but I’m hopeful that it can get another shot at a revival.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: April 22nd, 2015