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Review: New Avengers Annual #1

All these many decades, the one character trait that had Doctor Strange standing apart from other characters was the tremendous restraint, the personal control he maintained over his awesome powers. He often suffered for this, especially in his relationships with the fairer sex, and his angst was part of his charm.

No more.

In this unique solo Stephen Strange story in New Avengers Annual #1, it’s no holds barred for the Sorcerer Supreme as he displays the new power he has sacrificed for so much in New Avengers. And it is quite a different Doctor we see in writer Frank Barbiere’s wonderful take on this character.

Strange’s origin is one of the best and most prophetic in early Marvel history, and during this 75th anniversary of the House of Ideas it seems especially timely to take it out of moth balls and add to its brilliance. This Barbiere does in this issue, using it as a framing sequence to give personal meaning and depth to the character in the world of “Now.”

Believe me, if you are a new reader and do not know Doctor Strange, you will be well introduced – to the character we have known, to the new iteration of Marvel NOW – in this spectacular Annual.

Not only is the script mesmerizing and the penalty for such power as Doc has poignant, but the issue is visually stunning under the wonderfully mystic and wacky artwork of Marco Rudy. The swirling panel arrangements reminds this old timer of the creative use of same by Colan & Palmer in the late 1960s, a treat which still withstands the test of time if you ever read those Doc tales. It is hard to do in and out of time sequences without captions, and a dangerous thing, but the artwork of Rudy guides the reader through this tale of urgency and, let’s face it, like Colan this artist does great people!

And that shot of Doc performing the Blood Magic? Spectacular!

I give this annual my highest recommendation, and hereby call for more solo Doc tales by the same team.

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Exclusive: Frank Barbiere brings Solar: Man of the Atom into the sunlight


Another Gold Key character returns to the printed page as writer Frank Barbiere (Five Ghosts) and artist Joe Bennett (Iron Man) bring Solar: Man of the Atom to Dynamite Entertainment.

To discover the mystery of the space adventurer’s return, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer caught the latest rocket to the outer solar system to exclusively discuss the matter with Barbiere.

Cosmic Book News: Frank, how does it feel to be working with some of these legendary Gold Key characters, bringing them back to today’s comics readers?

Frank Barbiere: It’s a huge honor.  The level of talent that Dynamite is bringing to these books is astounding, and to be involved is really a writer’s dream.  The characters are just so rich and have so many possibilities — Dynamite has really just let us run wild with our imaginations and craft something we can all be immensely proud of.

CBN: Tell us the basic premise behind Solar: Man of the Atom. Is it a superhero comic, a space comic?


Frank Barbiere: I came into Solar really wanting to focus on character.  For me, character is truly what drives a story and gets readers invested.  We all know there will be cool cosmic stuff, superheroic elements, but I was mainly concerned with finding something new and exciting in terms of Solar himself.  To this end, we’ve introduced a family dynamic to the book that adds a much needed weight to all of the action.  We have actual characters who are affected by what transpires, a lot of which is big, fun action on a galactic scale, and to me, that makes it matter.  And to return to your original statement, I’d say it’s a superhero space comic grounded by a very human cast of characters.  You know, just to work in every adjective we can, haha.

CBN: Tell us about Solar, his character/civilian identity, and his world.

Frank Barbiere: To continue with my previous point, we’ve put a lot of thought into establishing Phil Seleski, the man who becomes Solar.  He’s a brilliant scientist who started his own company with his son, Colin, and we see the burden his intelligence has on his family/personal life.  Clearly becoming Solar turns his personal life upside down, as well as opening up a whole new world to Phil; imagine an incredibly brilliant man who is fascinated by the entire universe suddenly having access to everything and anything. This is our springboard and we’ve crafted the story from there — how would the actions Phil take reverberate throughout his family, the world, and the universe?


CBN: So tell us about this family, these supporting characters.

Frank Barbiere: The biggest supporting characters are Phil’s adult children, Colin and Erica.  They’re twins and have “inherited” different sides of his genius.  Colin is a brilliant businessman and has stayed by Phil’s side — together they’ve created a company that’s on the verge of solving the energy crisis … that is, if they can put their differences aside.  Erica has been the blacksheep of the family, far more interested in art and being a “builder” — this has lead her to reject the corporate science elements of the family and become an architect, actually separating herself from the family as well as the family business.  Events that unfold in issue #1 brings the family back together in an exciting way.  There’s a lot of history and emotion tied to the story, and I think readers are really going to care about all three of our characters … and the opportunity to have a “nuclear family” just seemed to perfect to shy away from.

CBN: And first up, the big-bad is … ?

Frank Barbiere:  Though it’s too early for us to give away any real answers, we are going to see a dual conflict on the personal level and on an extraterrestrial/galactic level.  Clearly Solar has joined an intergalactic community, for better or worse, and let’s just say not every citizen of the cosmos is happy to see him.


CBN: What interests you about this type of character?

Frank Barbiere: Firstly, I love the challenge of approaching such a storied and classic character and turning him loose to a new audience.  There’s so much to love about this character, such a rich history, and the excitement and sometimes intimidation of how to craft my own sensibilities into the character are a fantastic inspiration.  On top of that, as I’ve said, Solar is a GALACTIC character — he’s a brilliant mind capable of exploring not just earth, but the entire UNIVERSE, and that just opens us up to so many wonderful story possibilities.  But most importantly, at the core, I think there is an incredible character in Solar — a man who is given almost god-like abilities, a troubled genius who has been trying to “save the world” and is suddenly given the capacity to do so.  Seeing how such a change affects him and the ones around him is the most exciting aspect of the project.

CBN: Where are you getting inspiration for Solar? The Gold Key originals, the Jim Shooter issues or other sources?

Frank Barbiere: I’ve tried to keep it as much of “my own” thing as much as possible.  Dynamite has been incredibly supportive by letting me really present my own take, not being bogged down by years of history and continuity, and I think that’s what’s made the whole Gold Key line so fresh and exciting.  I’ve done a lot of reading of the classic 60’s Solar, and certainly I’ve mined some fun stuff from there that will be popping up.  It’s such good comics and was so innovative at the time — hopefully people will look to our Solar in the same way one day.

CBN: So what does Joe Bennett bring to the table on this book?


Frank Barbiere:  Joe has done an incredible job of bringing the script to life.  He has a beautiful, cinematic style that reads so well — he’s really a dream to work with as a writer.  Each shot is composed in such an exciting, fresh way … readers will be drawn in by his great storytelling and wonderful use of detail.  Our colorist, Lauren Affe, has done an amazing job of complimenting Joe’s work and has given the book a beautiful palette that really pops right off the page.  Dynamite is coming out of the gate with a beautiful batch of books for the Gold Key launch — I think readers are going to be blown away by the level of quality and craft given to these titles.

CBN: What do you hope new readers discover about this pulp space character?

Frank Barbiere: I’m hoping that readers are excited by the characters we are presenting and become invested in the story we’re telling.  We’re working really hard to have an exciting story that MATTERS, not just a generic story that runs a superhero through the machinations of plot.  If we’ve done our jobs right, people will be talking about this iteration of Solar for years to come, and hopefully we’ll still be here telling the stories of these characters with the same level of excitement and enthusiasm!

CBN: Frank, any projects present or future you would care to discuss?

Frank Barbiere:  I’m currently working on my ongoing title Five Ghosts at Image Comics, which is entering its second year.  If you enjoy my work on Solar, I’d recommend checking it out!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Frank Barbiere for answering our questions during his very busy schedule. Thanks also to Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci who helped make this interview possible.

“Solar: Man of the Atom” #1 hits stores April 16!

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NYCC: Pak On Turok; Van Lente On Magnus; Barbiere On Solar & Waid On Doctor Spektor!

Dynamite Entertainment has unleashed their big news for the NYCC, and it’s the Gold Key titles!

Greg Pak and Mirko Colak are on a new Turok: Dinosaur Hunter series!

Fred Van Lente and Cory Smith are on the new Magnus: Robot Fighter!

Frank Barbiere is on the new Solar!

And Mark Waid is on the new The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor!

Look for the new series to start in February of next year edited by former Marvel Comics editor Nate Cosby.

Updated with full press release below.







Press Release

Dynamite Entertainment Signs Gold Key License with DreamWorks Classics

Welcomes All-Star Writers Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente,
Frank Barbiere, and Mark Waid to Reimagine Fan-Favorite Series
Turok, Solar, Magnus: Robot Fighter, and Doctor Spektor

October 11, 2013, Mt. Laurel, NJ – New York Comic-Con Announcement:  Dynamite Entertainment proudly announces the return of four fan-favorite comic series — Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Solar: Man of the Atom, Magnus: Robot Fighter, and Doctor Spektor — through a new licensing agreement with DreamWorks Classics.  The publishing company has signed four of today’s most sought-after writers: Greg Pak on Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Frank Barbiere on Solar: Man of the Atom, Fred Van Lente on Magnus: Robot Fighter, and Mark Waid on the long-lost hero Doctor Spektor.  Contributing artists will include Mirko Colak, Cory Smith, and more to be announced.  Dynamite will launch the bold new universe of name-brand titles beginning in February 2014.

“These are super-bold, all-new takes on awesome characters by some of the best creators working in comics today,” says Nate Cosby, editor of the new line.  “I couldn’t be more jazzed to oversee the revamping and re-imagining of the Gold Key line, especially when the incredible stories are coming from Greg, Fred, Mark, and Frank, with beautiful art by Mirko, Cory, and more.  It’s a treat to work with these guys to dig down and find the core of each character, what makes them tick and why they’ve lasted for so many decades.  We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been cooking up!”

Originally published throughout the 1950s and 1960s as part of the Gold Key Comics imprint and followed by the monumentally successful run from Valiant Comics in the early 1990s, the titles Turok, Solar, and Magnus: Robot Fighter are immediately recognizable to the modern comic-reading audience.  Doktor Spektor, a title launched in the 1970s, rejoins its contemporaries for the first time in decades as part of Dynamite’s reimagined line.

Each contributing writer has shared their thoughts on the bold initiative:

Greg Pak, whose innovating writing style has propelled Batman/Superman to the top of sales charts, says, “When Nate Cosby told me the character he had in mind for me, I couldn’t stop grinning.  The original Turok, Son of Stone series featured a Native American warrior fighting for survival in a lost valley populated by dinosaurs.  I’m just going to go on the record and say that every single element in that description is solid gold.  I want to write stories with a Native American hero.  I want to write stories about fighting for survival. And you bet your boots I want to write stories about a world populated by dinosaurs.  And now you’re telling me I get to do all three?  For sheer thrills and adventure, this book is going to be a blast to work on.  And I’m always drawn to stories that feature diverse casts, so I love that a Native American hero headlines the book.  I’m also loving the worldbuilding we’re doing. We’re exploring the reasons why dinosaurs walk the earth and all of the social, historical, ecological, and political ramifications that follow.  This is huge adventure combined with mind-bending alternate history, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Fred Van Lente, a New York Times bestselling author and fan-favorite writer of Marvel Zombies, says, “I’m thrilled and honored to be reviving such a beloved series.  I loved the original Russ Manning book as a kid, and am looking forward to bringing science fiction action to the new series in a thought-provoking way.  The very nature of robotics questions what it means to be human — that’s ultimately what Magnus: Robot Fighter will be about.  That, and punching robots until they explode.  There will be a lot that old-time fans will find familiar, but the science of robotics and cybernetics has advanced considerably even since the last time Magnus had a title, and you’ll be seeing a lot of those reflected here.”

Frank Barbiere, a rising star whose work includes Blackout and Five Ghosts, says, “Dynamite has lined up some of the top talent in the business for the new universe of books, and I am both excited and flattered to be part of it.  I think fans are going to be thrilled by the new directions we’re taking with many of the properties, Solar included.  I’m a huge fan of the character and will be putting a unique spin on the mythology with an emphasis on family and character.  I’m hoping my take will resonate strongly across the readership, new and old alike, and I’ll certainly be bringing a lot of new and exciting things to the table.”

Mark Waid, one of the most celebrated comic writers of the modern era thanks to bestselling titles like Kingdom Come, Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man, and Indestructible Hulk, says, “Launching a publishing event like this is an exciting opportunity to show how it can be done well, stylishly, and cohesively. The key (no pun intended), as far as I’m concerned, is to get to the core of these characters so we can, with dynamism and confidence, tell the readers who they are, what they want, and why fans will invest in that. For Doctor Spektor, the challenge comes in figuring out how a professional skeptic, a famous investigator who debunks and exposes the extra-normal and keeps himself grounded, can function in a world that suddenly hosts superheroes and supervillains. What do you choose to believe in when your lifelong belief system is swept away?”

Nick Barrucci, the CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment, adds, “Longtime fans can rest assured — their beloved heroes are in capable hands.  I can’t believe the dream team of creators bringing these fantastic characters back, and with a vengeance!  I’m honored that Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Frank Barbiere, and Mark Waid are at the helm.  It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s mind-blowing — look for Turok, Solar, Magnus, and Spektor to win the hearts of dedicated fans and curious newcomers alike!”

The new line of titles will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, slated for release beginning in February 2014.  Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of Turok, Solar, Magnus: Robot Fighter, and Doctor Spektor with their local comic book shop or hobby specialty store.  The entire line will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.

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