Originally published by Marvel Comics and written by Stan Lee, Solarman returns after a twenty-five year hiatus! Ben Tucker is a teenage hacker going after the wealthy and corrupt, fighting bullies, and living in his father’s basement. When a mysterious alien attacks a space station conducting secret experiments, Ben is accidentally exposed to extraterrestrial technology and imbued with nuclear-based power. Now Ben Tucker is a fugitive from the police, an alien menace, and a paramilitary division hunting him down, with the intention to capture…or kill.
The cover: This is how to get a reader to pick up a book with a cover image. Ben Tucker stares at the reader as his hand glows with energy. The look on his face could be threatening or a warning, telling the reader that they don’t want to cross that line. This frontpiece was created by interior artist and colorist N. Steven Harris and Andrew Dalhouse. The coloring really sells the energy that the hero has coming out of his hand, and the space background gives this a sci-fi feel, which teases part of the character’s origin. Who else could this character be but Solarman? Well done in every way. Overall grade: A
The story: An unknown character opens the book speaking into an electronic device on his wrist that translates his speech into text. After speaking, he thinks to himself that it’s surprising that he’s going to be caught by the police, considering ‘the corporations I’ve beaten, the “big men” I’ve screwed…’ He doesn’t think he should be caught. He’s not a murderer and he doesn’t break rules, like those on the space station did. The scene then moves to said station where an astronaut spacewalking grabs an electronic device (that the speaker was wearing on the first page) that’s tumbling through space. Inside, the other astronauts realize that it’s not of Earth manufacture, but they’ll give it a closer look the next day. Once alone, the device begins to resonate with crimson energy. Back on Earth, Ben Tucker is running from some peers, having hacked their phones. He’s beaten, but doesn’t care because he’s a hacker and he lives to expose people. Joseph Phillip Illidge and Brendan Deneen do a solid job in setting up Ben and what drives him. Though she only makes a few appearances, his friend Jenny is a nice way to ground him and I’m hoping that at some point Ben will be face to face with her. How he gets his powers makes sense, and I like the sinister nature of them revealed on 10 – 11. I’m a big fan of an antgonist not being revealed until the last possible moment and this book certainly does that. Before the reveal of the big bad, there has to be a moment when the hero uses his powers for the first time, and Illidge and Deneed deliver that quite well; I especially liked the explicit nod to the sunrise to show how Solarman powers up. I was not prepared for Page 20, which puts a good twist on how Ben is going to have to exist with his new abilities. This is a good introduction to the character, with some nice action and lots of questions. I’m on board for more. Overall grade: A Read