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"It's Been An Absolute Honor To Write Such An Established Character" – Frank Barbiere Talks Solar: Man Of The Atom

Solar: Man Of The Atom #6 is coming up and Byron Brewer sat down with series writer Frank Barbiere to talk about the series and what the writer has in mind for the future.

Solar06CovDoeBYRON BREWER: Frank, how has it felt to be a part of returning an old, favored comic book universe to the pages of modern reader-dom? Seems like all the fans are climbing on board.

FRANK BARBIERE: It's been an absolute honor to write such an established character. I'm very excited to see people embracing our new take, but certainly careful to revere what's come before and try to stick to what made the original stories work so well.

BB: The Erica/Ghost Dad combo hero has been an adjustment, I will admit. I thought the daughter was only a temporary plot device, but it seems to be for the long haul, correct?

FB: Yes, Erica is here with us to stay. We certainly didn't want to take Phil completely off the table, and I think we've found a really fun balance that strikes true to our theme of family. Erica will be getting a new all-white costume to help differentiate her from Phil as well…we're really making her her own character.

BB: Frank, as a writer, you certainly have sewn a lot of choice seeds to be picked up on in future tales, not the least of which is that we have two protagonists instead of the one I expected. Does this make writing the book more of a challenge?

FB: It makes it a lot more enjoyable, to be honest. There is just so much room for fun stories here and knowing we have room to stretch are legs has helped build a really fun long form story that will be paying off in issues far on the horizon, as well as arc by arc. There is a lot of careful outlining and decision making, but ultimately it just makes the book feel bigger and more organic.

BB: I very much enjoy your lettering! Who came up with that visible formula format when Solar uses his/her/their powers?

FB: I had talked with Nate (Cosby, the Gold Key line editor) about trying to work in a unique way to show Solar using math. I thought of how when Dr. Strange would use his powers in the Marvel books they would list the spell, and thought "Hey, we should show the equations he's using!" It's been a lot of fun working with Christopher Preece, a science teacher and Solar fan I met, to come up with realistic equations and keep the fun balance between fact and fiction.

BB: With smart characters (Iron Man, Batman, Reed Richards), sometimes a writer will forget to utilize this "ability" as opposed to clobberin'. But that has not been the case in Solar, as Dad has used his brains quite a bit since #1. Difficult?

FB: It's a challenge to try to think like this character who is supposed to be brilliant, but the extra work is worth it. There's no better feeling than coming up with a unique solution to a story problem…it's ultimately so much more satisfying and true to the character. As well as Phil we have Erica who is not a brawler and more of an artists—the real fun part has been thinking of how she would approach her power set and work differently from Phil.

BB: I love how the bizarreness of alien life was woven into the even more bizarre situation we have with the Solars. Are the aliens you are utilizing in #6 from a former iteration of Solar or are these FB originals? Can you tell us any more about the race(s) than has been hinted at?

FB: These are all new alins I've come up with. Phil and Erica will be venturing to a few different worlds so we've been playing with different races and really giving it all a very fun sci-fi feel.

BB: What does Jonathan Lau bring to your book?

FB: Jonathan's work is absolutely stunning. He has jumped right in headfirst and done some knock-out pages, particularly the opening splash to #5 which has a bunch of aliens chasing our father and daughter pair. Jonathan has a really beautiful sense of layout and elegance to his work that is really just amazing—it's an honor to be able to collaborate with him.

BB: Frank, where do father and daughter go from here?

FB: We'll be seeing Phil and Erica travel across the universe trying to solve impossible problems, prevent an alien war, and not kill each other in the process! It's going to be a lot of fun and bring in some great cosmic elements—I can't wait for readers to join

For more on Solar: Man Of The Atom, click here.

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Dan WicklineAbout Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.
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