Interview: Jim Shooter on Dark Horse’s Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom

Jim Shooter’s career in comics has been impressive, to say the least. His early work on DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes is fondly remember and he recently wrote a new series of Legion stories. At Marvel he wrote such books as Avengers and Secret Wars. His biggest impact at Marvel may have been his term as Editor-In Chief. After Marvel, he was publisher of Valiant Comics where he wrote Magnus and Solar; and he helped found both Defiant Comics and Broadway Comics. This month, Shooter returns to write Dark Horse’s Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom. Westfield’s Roger Ash recently contact Shooter to learn more about this book and his other upcoming Dark Horse work.

Westfield: You previously wrote Doctor Solar at Valiant. What do you find appealing about the character?

Jim Shooter: Doctor Solar is an iconic character—the premiere archetype of energy-empowered heroes; real-science-based heroes; and heroes whose power level approaches being godlike. In Doctor Solar’s own words:

I am the Master of the Unified Field. The God of Energy. The living embodiment of the power of the sun. The most powerful being in the universe, unless there is a God Almighty at the end of time, when all of reality collapses into a Singularity. I am the Man of the Atom.” – from the secret journal of a scientist empowered by a thermonuclear cataclysm — Doctor Solar.

Doctor Solar is our defender against science run amok. In the 1960’s, that meant nuclear threats. Today, there’s much more to worry about—supercolliders conceivably creating black holes, magnetic monopoles or so-called “strange matter” that could destroy the planet. Transhuman, or “H+” engineering, nanotechnology, and humankind’s increasing ability to impose its will on nature all present terrifying possibilities, including the means to empower evil.

The action is spectacular.

Immeasurable might and his amazing mind make Doctor Solar the “God of Energy,” but he has to hold on to his humanity—because that’s what keeps us safe from him.

His greatest power is focus. Solar is a hero like no other. That’s why I love this character.

Westfield: Does this new series follow what you did with the character at Valiant or is it totally new?

Shooter: Mike Richardson said to forget everything I’d done before and make this “all new” while still remaining true to the core concepts of the original. Easy for him to say. Actually, it forced me to rethink everything, and I think the story is better for it. In fairness, Mike did offer some really useful suggestions.

Westfield: What can people look forward to in the series?

Shooter: All the mind-bending potential of cutting edge science brought to bear in explosive, epic-scale, super-hero action alongside intense human drama. I’m doing the best I can, and I think it’s the best I’ve ever done.

Doctor Solar page

Doctor Solar page

Westfield: You’re working with artist Dennis Calero on Doctor Solar. What can you say about his contribution to the book?

Shooter: Actually, I haven’t seen much art yet, believe it or not. I’ve had my nose to the grindstone and I’ve been letting Dark Horse Senior Editor Chris Warner deal with the artists so far. Dennis is terrifically talented. All I ask is that he follow the scripts. They’re full scripts, written in great detail. They’re challenging, yes, but I scribble-sketch almost every panel for myself just to make sure what I’m asking for is doable. We should be okay.

Westfield: You’re also going to be writing Magnus and Turok for Dark Horse. Is there anything you can say about those projects?

Shooter: Before I started on Magnus Robot Fighter #1, I wrote a 67 page origin story, a sort of mega-Zero Issue, just so I’d have everything, the entire foundation, all figured out before beginning the series. That Zero Issue will be published someday, but I don’t know when yet.

Magnus is set in the year 4000 CE. In Magnus’s own words:

When robots rebel, wreak havoc or threaten to impose a murderous, mechanical tyranny upon the world, I protect humankind. I was trained from birth to achieve the pinnacle of human potential—steel-smashing strength, a disciplined mind and the will to conquer any enemy. I am Magnus. Robot Fighter.

The first story Arc is entitled Metal Mob. Usually peaceful, Utopian North Am suddenly is suffering a crime epidemic. Human mobsters using robot muscle are terrorizing the city with human trafficking, illegal psychoactive substances, violent crime and corrosive corruption. Beautiful heiress Cinnette Victoria is taken by kidnappers. Magnus fights his way into the mob stronghold in the lawless, ground-lev Goph Lands, where kidnap victims are kept awaiting ransom.

Meanwhile, Cinnette’s best friend, Leeja Clane, is not about to stand by and do nothing….

There’s lots of action, a powerful new enemy, half-man, half robot enforcer Big Guns, phalanxes of Assassin and Thug-robots, a criminal mastermind, Timur, who earns that title and…it gets pretty intense.

Turok is a Pre-Columbian Native American from the Northeast.

In Turok’s own words:

Far have I traveled and I have learned many things. In the western desert, I saved the life of a young warrior. Fleeing the raiders who murdered his father, we sought refuge in a cavern, but we were swept away to a strange world by a magic unlike any I have ever seen. Here are thunder-lizards and nightmares, miracles and dreams. For the sake of the boy, Andar, I must find a way back home.

In Turok’s time, no native of North or Central America has a metal weapon except him—a seax, or Viking long knife, given to Turok by a Norse trader whom he befriended during his sojourn to Newfoundland.

Also, from the Norseman, Turok learned the art of making composite bows reinforced with sinew and horn. Like the legendary bows of the Turks, Turok’s bow can propel an arrow half a mile, and has devastating power at close range. There is not the like of Turok’s bow in the Americas.

He has traveled a great deal, south through the trade routes of the Fort Ancient and Mississippian Cultures, then to the west, learning much along the way.

From shamans he learned the secret language they share. He also learned that most of what they do is trickery, though he has seen some things he cannot explain. Most importantly, he learned never to fear the unknown or unfamiliar. That only gives tricksters power, and more power to what is real but strange.

Being without fear has a power all its own. To be without fear is to be almost unconquerable. Now, if he can just keep young Andar out of trouble….

The Timeless Land Turok and Andar are swept into is a Cretaceous Era world only one continuum away from ours. There are dinosaurs and creatures from all time periods, including human kinds, swept there via the same sort of phenomenon that brought Turok and Andar. It’s a world of dreams and danger.

In the first arc, Turok, Andar and their pursuers are swept away to the Timeless World where they become embroiled in a war between the vicious Aztec Emperor Maxtla and the fierce Panther People, led by their mysterious Goddess-Queen, Aasta. Turok and Andar battle the invincible Thunder-Hand, and, of course, a horde of dinosaurs and other monstrous threats. Also, Turok, after all his years and all his travels meets here, of all places, a woman with whom he falls in love. And that’s just the first issue….

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Shooter: Dark Horse is a wonderful company. Senior Editor Chris Warner, who’s coordinating this project, has been a Godsend. Mike Richardson has been a mighty force for good, creatively and business-wise. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m giving it my best shot. This is it.

USER COMMENTSOne Response

We'd love to hear from you, feel free to add to the discussion!

  1. Brian Says:

    This is a good omen that Shooter is writing this classic Valiant material again! I just hope he doesn’t throw away *everything* he wrote before, because that was some of the best comic writing ever in comics history. The first 10 issues of Valiant’s Solar, I keep on my shelf next to Maus and Miller’s Dark Knight.

    I also enjoyed Shadowman. I remember when they tried to revamp that character and ruined him. I have hope that this version will be different because of Shooter’s involvement.