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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 39,842
Subj: Solar:Man of the Atom #12 - Passing the Mantle.
Posted: Mon May 18, 2015 at 02:37:44 pm EDT (Viewed 442 times)

Grasping for a sense of its own purpose till the last, Dynamite Comics' brief foray into Doctor Solar's world comes to its peak with the story of one generations sacrifice for the next, and this next generations acceptance of an adults sense of responsibility to the world around them, and the awareness that goes with it.

Frank Barbiere's work for this year old series has never been in any danger of becoming innovative or original, a deeply conventional comicbook content of gaudy supertypes and cliched dialogue goes in hand with nebulous end of the world threats and amorphous one-dimensional villains. There is nothing here that makes us think on the genres wondrous possibilities, nor even any memorable set-piece visual moments that will linger in the mind. All this latest issue is is the final ascendance of Doctor Solar's daughter Erica to his mantle and station as protector, and the fate of Solar himself. Neither of which moves the reader as much as it might have given the flat artificiality of the moment, that and the series uncertain future. But if this latest issue has one successful component to it it would have to be the fate of Philip Solar, which has been gradually developing in both a natural progression and ends in one that allows closure to the question of daughter Erica's status and allows for her to grow to full independence.

With the rise of Solars opposite number, Doctor Eclipse, the world faces annihilation by an all-powerful madman. To stop his opposite Phillip Solar has to make the ultimate sacrifice. And in so doing closure can be given to estranged daughter Erica and his legacy allowed to live on through her, his natural successor. Touching at the end the parallel of the tearful Erica holding her dying fathers hand, trying to comfort him in his final moments, is neatly aligned with artist Jonathan Lau's swirl of images from happier times with a young girl and doting father. The Beginning and the Ending. The passing of Phillip Solar is the end of one era, but the ascendance of Erica as the new Solar is his legacy to the world and the promise of a fresher more vital figure to protect and watch over the earth.
Alas we may not ever know just what heights Erica might rise to, as time time is not on this books side. But given the overall lacklustre content and style it is just as well the journey does end here...

Gaze on the page above. What is its focus, is this the best way for a page to engage us, the reader, with the drama unfolding? Within the span of twelve issues now one might have expected some sign of growth and ambition in the artstyle of Jonathan Lau, but with this issue all the weaknesses and sheer thoughtlessness of the artist are seen laid out in full effect.
The chief weakness in Jonathn Lau's art comes in the most basic form of comicbook production - the fundamental layout of the page itslf. Any artist working in comicbooks has to master the basics of a competent page layout and telling the story in a clear but engaging way, in Lau's case there is never the sensse of any thought or planning at work by which to shape the overall presentation of the issue at hand, rather pages come ad-hoc, with seemingly random dull panel placement per page, and no consideration of the poor effect of the wide areas of vacant negative space left over. Like some cowboy builder Lau throws up some rudimentary structures to take the eye but he leaves the actual job at hand half done. The page above is a particularly telling example of this as apart from the woefully poor composition of the scenes it shows some of the most basic and unimaginitive of panel arrangements spread across the page in such a cavalier way that progression is leaden and the space left exposed between panels and borders is dissapointingly wasteful. Lau never settles down to actualy set about TELLING the story. Instead he illustrates... the result is a page by page jumble of images, a dull and undermining experience that does Frank Barbiere's unambitious script no favours at all.

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