"Solarman" #1 from Scout Comics -
Teenager, Benjamin Tucker, has a huge chip on his shoulder. He doesn't like bullies, he can take a beating, and he's fearless - nearly insanely so. Ben is a gifted genius turned unstoppable hacktivist, aiming his considerable intellect at toppling the big fish of the world who step on the little guy while enjoying all the spoils of their ill-gotten gains...And Ben does all this from his room in the basement of his dad's brownstone in Brooklyn, NYC. While spying on a space-station created with questionable funding, Ben witnesses a horrifying alien encounter, an alien incursion in the form of a powerful virus that inhabits a host body. When Ben becomes infected with the virus, he gains incredible powers that directly cause his life to take a tragic turn. Will Ben control his powers, or will the alien virus take control of him? Ben's running out of time - if the virus doesn't kill him, the alien cop sent to stop it surely will.
Joseph Illidge and Brendan Deneen unite to bring us this equally bright and broody superhero origin story in "Solarman" #1. Ben Tucker is a hard to pin down, which makes him a fun protagonist. Is he a hero fighting for the little guy? Or are his reasons less than altruistic? Does he feel victimized and only strikes at the powerful because of a need for revenge? Is he righting wrongs, or just getting even with a world that he feels has wronged him? It's hard to say. I like that. While Deneen and Illidge give us a very interesting protagonist, the story itself leaves questions unanswered; it seems a bit light in some places, and very rushed. When I arrived at the final page of the book, I felt a little disappointed, yet, I have to admit that I was left wanting more. The strength of Ben Tucker's character alone is sure to bring me back for issue #2. N. Steven Harris' art conveys the story perfectly - it's uncomplicated with a cool urban flavor to it - and in some panels, Harris pulls out the stops with some pretty wild pencils that Andrew Dalhouse ramps up with gorgeously saturated colors.
All in all, this book has loads of potential that I hope that Deneen and Illidge can realize in subsequent issues. Ben Tucker is just the type of protagonist that may resonate with today's social-justice-seeking youth culture. This might end up being a great reboot / revamp of a character that never really got any traction more than twenty-five years ago. I'd like to see what this kid can do.
RATING: 7 out of 10.
FUN FACT 1: The original Solarman was created by Dave Oliphant with Deborah Kalman.
FUN FACT 2: Oliphant and Kalman created Solarman almost a decade before it was pitched to Marvel. At Marvel, Stan Lee scripted the story, which Jim Mooney penciled in "Solarman" vol 1 which ran for only two issues (Mike Zeck did the covers).
FUN FACT 3: Solarman was made into a TV Show in 1992. The pilot aired on Fox Kids (such great memories!), but was never picked up for a full season. The full episode is below. Click and enjoy. :)
FUN FACT 4: In the pilot episode, Benjamin Tucker is drawing a story about a character called Space Ranger...Which is hilarious because Space Ranger is a character owned by DC Comics. :-D
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