Marvel (January, 1989)WRITER: Stan Lee PENCILER: Jim Mooney INKER: Dennis Janke COLORIST: bob Sharen LETTERER: Diana Albers EDITOR: Bob Budiansky “SOLARMAN” CREATOR: David Oliphant
Alien scientist Sha-Han discovered a way to tap the energy of a sun. Alien Warlord Gormagga Kraal uses it to destroy a sun and absorb its power, even if innocent lives are lost in the process. When he sets his sights on our sun, Sha-Han rebels and escapes with the Circlet Of Power, a device that taps that solar energy and turns its wearer into the powerful Solarman. Shot down, he crashes on Earth and the only one to help him is Ben Tucker, who is trying to convince his widowed father that he doesn’t want to be a jock, he wants to be a comic artist. Ben’s good dead puts the Circlet on his arm, but after a fight with Kraal’s robots he ends up captured. Aided by Sha-Han’s daughter, Altarra (who dies in the attempt), and her robot, Beepie, he is able to save the Earth and become a superhero.
What they got right: Gormagga Kraal is an interesting villain and there are some other characters I would have liked to have seen again. I like the concept of a cartoonist becoming a superhero, which is one of the things I liked about Kyle Rayner before they pulled him from the art desk. For the 80s Solarman’s costume and power source are good.
What they got wrong: But outside of his power source there’s nothing “solar” about Solarman. He doesn’t turn into light, radiate sunlight, or even fire solar blasts ala Birdman. He’s just in a sun-colored outfit and blonde (while Ben has dark brown hair). I also would have liked to have seen either Sha-Han or Altarra survive and be Ben’s confidant or trainer in the power of Solarman. Beepie lives up to his name by just beeping. And how did characters know the name of other characters when they were never told them?
Other notes: There was a pilot that Fox aired in the 90s as a summer special and it’s pretty much the story of this issue. Prepare for the 80’s last gasp if you click this.
Recommendation: Not a great comic but not a bad one. If you saw all the ads that went into this comic and were curious, it’s worth a look.