Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

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Man-of-The-Atom
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Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

A few days ago Ryan contacted me to tell me about his idea to do a VALIANT Fanzine, and, in the course of our conversation, I told him about the Solar comic we got together to do back in 2004 and he asked me to post about it here.

I used to have art by John Smallwood-Garcia for the section I wrote, but the CD I saved those files to is corrupted or something and I can no longer retrieve them. All I have are these two pages and description I posted on Facebook.

I know Stuart Berryhill did another section. Other contributors were Craig Partin and John Michael Helmer.

The project started as a suggestion by Kevin VanHook but I inadvertently took it over and fumbled it.

"The Solar 2004 Fanzine Project, a nonprofit endeavor, began as a joint effort between posters of the VALIANTfans.com message board. While a script was completed by the three contributing writers, it wasn't possible to get enough artistic contributions to complete it."

Edit: Sorry, is here the right place for this?
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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Ryan »

These look great! Was it set in VH1? Any hints on the plot?

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

Ryan wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 10:04:27 am
These look great! Was it set in VH1? Any hints on the plot?
The intent was definitely to continue from where VH 1 left off.

In this scene, we're seeing the VH 1 Gayle on a date with a random, non-important, guy she goes out with after Phil left her to go to Earth 2 from the Jurgens run as seen in Solar #60.

If I recall, the plot involved multiple splits of Solar akin to the Destroyer and the Explorer. One such split ends up attacking Gayle. I just don't recall the whys, though.

Each writer was going to tackle the story of a different split.

What we see at the bottom of these pages is VH 1 Solar traveling through space making his way back to Earth and sensing the split.

I think I reported your post by accident, lol. Sorry.
Last edited by Man-of-The-Atom on Thu May 12, 2022 10:50:53 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

Dang, how do you delete posts? lol
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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Ryan »

Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 10:10:34 am
Ryan wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 10:04:27 am
These look great! Was it set in VH1? Any hints on the plot?
The intent was definitely to continue from where VH 1 left off.

In this scene, we're seeing the VH 1 Gayle on a date with a random, non-important, guy she goes out with after Phil left her to go to Earth 2 from the Jurgens run as seen in Solar #60.

If I recall, the plot involved multiple splits of Solar akin to the Destroyer and the Explorer. One such split ends up attacking Gayle. I just don't recall the whys, though.

Each writer was going to tackle the story of a different split.

What we see at the bottom of these pages is VH 1 Solar traveling through space making his way back to Earth and sending the split.

I think I reported your post by accident, lol. Sorry.
Lol I didn't get anything.

That sounds cool, I'm not sure if I ever got all the Jurgens issues. I hope someone did leather jacket Solar from Rai 0 :D

The pages look amazing though this sounds 10x better than anything Dynamite sucks ever did with the character.

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

Ryan wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 10:35:54 am
Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 10:10:34 am
Ryan wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 10:04:27 am
These look great! Was it set in VH1? Any hints on the plot?
The intent was definitely to continue from where VH 1 left off.

In this scene, we're seeing the VH 1 Gayle on a date with a random, non-important, guy she goes out with after Phil left her to go to Earth 2 from the Jurgens run as seen in Solar #60.

If I recall, the plot involved multiple splits of Solar akin to the Destroyer and the Explorer. One such split ends up attacking Gayle. I just don't recall the whys, though.

Each writer was going to tackle the story of a different split.

What we see at the bottom of these pages is VH 1 Solar traveling through space making his way back to Earth and sending the split.

I think I reported your post by accident, lol. Sorry.
Lol I didn't get anything.

That sounds cool, I'm not sure if I ever got all the Jurgens issues. I hope someone did leather jacket Solar from Rai 0 :D

The pages look amazing though this sounds 10x better than anything Dynamite sucks ever did with the character.
Jurgens clearly seemed more interested in focusing on Solar as a God and not so much a man, so he had him create a whole world inhabited by more traditional superheroes than the ones in the VALIANT Universe.

If anything was missing from his run was clearly pointing out that the reason why Phil would create such a place is because he was a comic book nerd.

The addition of that might have improved the story for me.


I once wrote a fan fic in which Solar is subconsciously responsible for creating the VALIANT Universe when he went back in time at the end of Alpha & Omega from material he was exposed to while he was in quarantine, like Highlander inspired the Anni-Padda, Batman and James Bond inspired Ninjak, Conan and Iron Man inspired Aric, and so on and so forth.
Comics are like a Rorschach test, everyone has a different opinion on what they are and can be...

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Ryan »

Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 10:54:39 am
Jurgens clearly seemed more interested in focusing on Solar as a God and not so much a man, so he had him create a whole world inhabited by more traditional superheroes than the ones in the VALIANT Universe.

If anything was missing from his run was clearly pointing out that the reason why Phil would create such a place is because he was a comic book nerd.

The addition of that might have improved the story for me.
Ah that's right I remember some of those characters. I remember liking the art but it's always frustrating when the 'big names' break all the rules of what has come before just because they want to do the same thing they've done before.
I once wrote a fan fic in which Solar is subconsciously responsible for creating the VALIANT Universe when he went back in time at the end of Alpha & Omega from material he was exposed to while he was in quarantine, like Highlander inspired the Anni-Padda, Batman and James Bond inspired Ninjak, Conan and Iron Man inspired Aric, and so on and so forth.
That's a great explanation. I feel like that was almost implied but never really expanded on like you're saying. It's one of the more plausible origin stories for a superhero universe.

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

Ryan wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 11:52:48 am
Ah that's right I remember some of those characters. I remember liking the art but it's always frustrating when the 'big names' break all the rules of what has come before just because they want to do the same thing they've done before.
That was the main problem with Birthquake and VH 2. These comics stopped being VALIANT and became DC or Marvel lite.
Ryan wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 11:52:48 am
That's a great explanation. I feel like that was almost implied but never really expanded on like you're saying. It's one of the more plausible origin stories for a superhero universe.
Right? Alpha & Omega was clearly set in the real world, with the only fictional characters being the ones that worked at the plant. Then after Phil went back in time he changed everything. That's what Erica hated about him.
Comics are like a Rorschach test, everyone has a different opinion on what they are and can be...

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Ryan »

Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 12:44:27 pm
That was the main problem with Birthquake and VH 2. These comics stopped being VALIANT and became DC or Marvel lite.
Preach it. A big part of that is hiring 'hot' creators who have one way of doing things. And maybe editors who aren't willing or able to implement stricter storytelling guidelines that are there to make the reading experience better. In my mind it all comes back to the Image revolution as the moment when the balance of power swung hard towards artists and the 'star' system (and 'events') and away from editors and the regular readers.
Right? Alpha & Omega was clearly set in the real world, with the only fictional characters being the ones that worked at the plant. Then after Phil went back in time he changed everything. That's what Erica hated about him.
That's why that's such a masterpiece and all time classic. It works on so many different levels.

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Chiclo »

Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 12:44:27 pm
That was the main problem with Birthquake and VH 2. These comics stopped being VALIANT and became DC or Marvel lite.
I feel like I have heard this somewhere before?

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

Chiclo wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 2:16:18 pm
Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 12:44:27 pm
That was the main problem with Birthquake and VH 2. These comics stopped being VALIANT and became DC or Marvel lite.
I feel like I have heard this somewhere before?
You have.
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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

Ryan wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 1:35:38 pm
Preach it. A big part of that is hiring 'hot' creators who have one way of doing things. And maybe editors who aren't willing or able to implement stricter storytelling guidelines that are there to make the reading experience better. In my mind it all comes back to the Image revolution as the moment when the balance of power swung hard towards artists and the 'star' system (and 'events') and away from editors and the regular readers.
Indeed. VALIANT opted to go with popular creators in the belief that it would result in higher sales. The problem is that those popular creators had no clue how to do things differently than they did at DC and Marvel, resulting VALIANT becoming a mix of the two at the expense of its own identity.

It's like they didn't know what would increase sales, the popularity of the people they hired or their ability to copy what DC and Marvel were doing.
That's why that's such a masterpiece and all time classic. It works on so many different levels.
Indeed.
Comics are like a Rorschach test, everyone has a different opinion on what they are and can be...

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Ryan »

Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 12:44:27 pm
These comics stopped being VALIANT and became DC or Marvel lite.
I'm sure there's a thread or hundred about it, but it's been a while. What, to you, are the characteristics that make for a true VALIANT comic? I want to try and come up with a definitive list.


-Adherence to a set of rules - the world is the same as the 'real' world except when explained with plausible sci-fi explanations - the 'world outside your window' rule

-When people die, they stay dead like in real life - the 'dead is dead' rule


I need some time to think about this, will update the list as we get more

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

Ryan wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 10:09:24 am
Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 12:44:27 pm
These comics stopped being VALIANT and became DC or Marvel lite.
I'm sure there's a thread or hundred about it, but it's been a while. What, to you, are the characteristics that make for a true VALIANT comic? I want to try and come up with a definitive list.


-Adherence to a set of rules - the world is the same as the 'real' world except when explained with plausible sci-fi explanations - the 'world outside your window' rule

-When people die, they stay dead like in real life - the 'dead is dead' rule


I need some time to think about this, will update the list as we get more
That's pretty much it.

One need think of VALIANT as they might a police procedural or a medical drama on TV, but with these larger than life heroic characters in suits of armor, super powers, magic, and the like.

Ninjak should not be written any differently than The Equalizer, if you will.

I think the most telling bit about how VALIANT turned into DC lite was when a VH 2 editor (might have been Gomez, not sure) remarked that when they hired Busiek they wanted "Astro City Busiek" but instead they got "Spider-Man Busiek".

Busiek brought to Ninjak the same kind of approach he had to Spider-Man, while Waid brought to X-O Manowar the same kind fo approach he had to Flash. They painted these VALIANT characters with the same brush as they did Peter Parker and Wally West.

That does not necessarily mean that their characters, Denny and Donovan, didn't have value, just that the tone of the narrative was off.

Had they written them in the style of Astro City/Marvels and even Kingdom Come (just more grounded, I don't mean apocalyptic), they might have worked considerably better.
Comics are like a Rorschach test, everyone has a different opinion on what they are and can be...

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Ryan »

Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 11:28:49 am
That's pretty much it.

One need think of VALIANT as they might a police procedural or a medical drama on TV, but with these larger than life heroic characters in suits of armor, super powers, magic, and the like.

Ninjak should not be written any differently than The Equalizer, if you will.
Well said, so it's really quite simple in theory. I think one tendency in comics (and all action media) is that to keep raising the excitement level everything has to keep getting bigger and more extreme. Then everything starts to steadily creep away from reality, villains get more ridiculous, heroes get over-powered, magic becomes an easy explanation for everything, and before long you have a free-for-all like Marvel and DC have become.
I think the most telling bit about how VALIANT turned into DC lite was when a VH 2 editor (might have been Gomez, not sure) remarked that when they hired Busiek they wanted "Astro City Busiek" but instead they got "Spider-Man Busiek".

Busiek brought to Ninjak the same kind of approach he had to Spider-Man, while Waid brought to X-O Manowar the same kind fo approach he had to Flash. They painted these VALIANT characters with the same brush as they did Peter Parker and Wally West.

That does not necessarily mean that their characters, Denny and Donovan, didn't have value, just that the tone of the narrative was off.

Had they written them in the style of Astro City/Marvels and even Kingdom Come (just more grounded, I don't mean apocalyptic), they might have worked considerably better.
Hmm that's interesting. Seems like 'Astro City Busiek' would have been a better fit for VALIANT. I've only read a handful of them but I remember liking them. Just goes to show how the 'star system' works. An editor hires a writer hoping to get a certain tone to the work instead of just being able to tell him, "Do it like this". From the writer's perspective, maybe he's thinking if you're hiring me then you're going to get what I want to do and what excites me, otherwise don't bother.

Sort of like the auteur system vs. studio system in movies. Comics have definitely gone down the auteur route for some time now, which is why you see a lot of people questioning if continuity is even important at all. Early VALIANT and 80's Marvel were much more editorial driven, almost like an animation studio.

At an animation studio everyone who works on an animated show has to conform their drawing style to fit the style of the show and keep all of the characters on model. VALIANT wasn't that extreme, just look at Unity, there's a vast difference in the drawing style of say BWS and Ernie Colon, but the characters were kept close enough to the model and the storytelling form stayed the same (grid layouts, no sfx, etc.) that it all felt very consistent in a way that most comics these days don't.

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

Ryan wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 12:55:59 pm
Well said, so it's really quite simple in theory. I think one tendency in comics (and all action media) is that to keep raising the excitement level everything has to keep getting bigger and more extreme. Then everything starts to steadily creep away from reality, villains get more ridiculous, heroes get over-powered, magic becomes an easy explanation for everything, and before long you have a free-for-all like Marvel and DC have become.
Indeed. Something like Harry Potter works because it keeps it grounded. But if it was written like Mary Poppins it would flop.

VALIANT was Harry Potter. VH 2 was Mary Poppins.
Hmm that's interesting. Seems like 'Astro City Busiek' would have been a better fit for VALIANT. I've only read a handful of them but I remember liking them. Just goes to show how the 'star system' works. An editor hires a writer hoping to get a certain tone to the work instead of just being able to tell him, "Do it like this". From the writer's perspective, maybe he's thinking if you're hiring me then you're going to get what I want to do and what excites me, otherwise don't bother.

Sort of like the auteur system vs. studio system in movies. Comics have definitely gone down the auteur route for some time now, which is why you see a lot of people questioning if continuity is even important at all. Early VALIANT and 80's Marvel were much more editorial driven, almost like an animation studio.

Everyone who works on an animated show has to conform their drawing style to fit the style of the show and keep all of the characters on model. VALIANT wasn't that extreme, just look at Unity, there's a vast difference in the drawing style of say BWS and Ernie Colon, but the characters were kept close enough to the model and the storytelling form stayed the same (grid layouts, no sfx, etc.) that it all felt very consistent in a way that most comics these days don't.
Exactly, and that has been a problem at DC and Marvel for decades now.
Comics are like a Rorschach test, everyone has a different opinion on what they are and can be...

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Ryan »

Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 1:00:35 pm
Indeed. Something like Harry Potter works because it keeps it grounded. But if it was written like Mary Poppins it would flop.

VALIANT was Harry Potter. VH 2 was Mary Poppins.
:lol: That one got me.
Exactly, and that has been a problem at DC and Marvel for decades now.
It's gone in cycles.
1938-60's - Editorial driven, comic books are a huge mass media industry, available in nearly every drug store and supermarket in N. America.
70's - started to swing to the auteur, it produced some masterpieces but started making a disorganized mess of things, both within the fictional universes and with the release and production of the books.
1978-1992 - Back to stricter editorial control starting with Shooter then Defalco at Marvel, Shooter continuing that approach at VALIANT. Sales rise, comic book shops flourish, numerous classic storylines are produced.
1992-present day - Image revolution swings power to the auteur, both artists and writers. The thinking is the name in the credits and spectacle is what sells the book, not line-wide consistency and storytelling discipline. Some masterpieces are produced, but manufactured events and manufactured collectibles are continually pumped to keep the hype and cash flowing. Comics fade as a mass media industry, become a niche collectible industry while the earlier stories reach unprecedented mass appeal through the medium of movies and television.

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

Ryan wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 1:40:23 pm
:lol: That one got me.
:lol:
It's gone in cycles.
1938-60's - Editorial driven, comic books are a huge mass media industry, available in nearly every drug store and supermarket in N. America.
70's - started to swing to the auteur, it produced some masterpieces but started making a disorganized mess of things, both within the fictional universes and with the release and production of the books.
1978-1992 - Back to stricter editorial control starting with Shooter then Defalco at Marvel, Shooter continuing that approach at VALIANT. Sales rise, comic book shops flourish, numerous classic storylines are produced.
1992-present day - Image revolution swings power to the auteur, both artists and writers. The thinking is the name in the credits and spectacle is what sells the book, not line-wide consistency and storytelling discipline. Some masterpieces are produced, but manufactured events and manufactured collectibles are continually pumped to keep the hype and cash flowing. Comics fade as a mass media industry, become a niche collectible industry while the earlier stories reach unprecedented mass appeal through the medium of movies and television.
Sounds about right. And it becomes a problem when these auteurs refuse to listen to their critics. Most of them only care about pandering to their nostalgia for older comics and look down their nose at anyone that doesn't like what they're doing.

Then they and their fans gang up on anyone who dares like what they don't, such as, for instance, Byrne's Superman.
Comics are like a Rorschach test, everyone has a different opinion on what they are and can be...

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Ryan »

Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 2:48:41 pm
Sounds about right. And it becomes a problem when these auteurs refuse to listen to their critics. Most of them only care about pandering to their nostalgia for older comics and look down their nose at anyone that doesn't like what they're doing.

Then they and their fans gang up on anyone who dares like what they don't, such as, for instance, Byrne's Superman.
Totally agree. The star system creates huge egos too, case in point above why the editor couldn't just tell Busiek 'Do it more like Astro City'.

Back to the original topic, does anyone have the Stuart Berryhill pages? Is this something that led to them doing Playing God? Paging X-O Hobojoe

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Re: Solar 2004 Fanzine Project

Post by Man-of-The-Atom »

Ryan wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 6:59:47 pm
Man-of-The-Atom wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 2:48:41 pm
Sounds about right. And it becomes a problem when these auteurs refuse to listen to their critics. Most of them only care about pandering to their nostalgia for older comics and look down their nose at anyone that doesn't like what they're doing.

Then they and their fans gang up on anyone who dares like what they don't, such as, for instance, Byrne's Superman.
Totally agree. The star system creates huge egos too, case in point above why the editor couldn't just tell Busiek 'Do it more like Astro City'.

Back to the original topic, does anyone have the Stuart Berryhill pages? Is this something that led to them doing Playing God? Paging X-O Hobojoe
Hope he responds and still has them, heh.
Comics are like a Rorschach test, everyone has a different opinion on what they are and can be...


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