For Gold Key and Dark Horse publication of the character, please see Doctor Solar
Doctor Phil Seleski a physicist, is involved in an accident while testing a new fusion reactor that he designed. He tries to stop a meltdown by jumping into the reactor. It turns him into a being of pure energy. Able to control energy and since everything is made of energy he has the powers of a god but the mind of a man. Later he finds out he really designed a wish machine that went haywire and exploded because it's what he wished, to become Doctor Solar the childhood comic hero.
Doctor Solar was first created in October 1962 by writer Paul S. Newman and editor Matt Murphy, with his first appearance being Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #1 published by Gold Key Comics. He's an interesting character due to the fact he's ran under a total of five publication companies throughout his comic book tenure. After his initial run with Gold Key, the company went out of business and the rights to Solar were purchased by Valiant Comics in 1991, along with other Gold Key properties like Magnus and Turok.
Valiant's Solar premiered under the pen of Jim Shooter with Solar, Man of the Atom #1, sporting an entirely new background story. In this rendition, Valiant dealt with the circumstances in-universe by introducing Philip Solar, the original Gold Key version, as a fictional comic book character within Valiant, and Phil Seleski as a young boy who was inspired by his comics. The run marked a large surge in Solar's power from his early eras. Solar's limits weren't as constricting and he could achieve impressive feats more consistently than before. The Valiant run concluded in 1996 when Acclaim cancelled most of Valiants titles, including the Man of the Atom run at 60 issues.
Acclaim launched a new line of comics with Nicieza as the Editor-in-Chief, including the three part Solar: Man of the Atoms series beginning with the 1997 one shot by Warren Ellis. These were successful but the rights to Solar lapsed to Dark Horse who acquired the rights to reprint Gold Key comics. His main solo series then was worked on by Jim Shooter. By 2013 Solar became property of Dynamite Entertainment, who published a 12 part series focusing on his daughter, Erica.
When Phil Seleski jumped into the reactor, we later learn that the reactor he created was actually a kind of "wish machine", which altered him based on his subconscious desires to be more like his childhood hero (whose comics he read and collected), the original Gold Key Dr Solar. This altered Phil into a being of basically pure plasma energy, who is able to maintain an outer human appearance. All of his abilities and powers are tied to the manipulation of energy, which grants him a wide array of powers, since in Phil's words, "Everything is energy".
It should be noted that in the original Valiant comics, there are actually three versions of Phil. There is the original version as seen in issues number 1 through 45, and this version of Phil sacrifices his own life to end an alien threat in the far future. Starting with issue 46, Acclaim had purchased Valiant comics and introduced Birthquake, which brought us a re-envisioning of the Valiant titles. This version of Phil ends his run by sacrificing his life to reignite a sun.
The third version is seen with the Deathmate storyline, which provided us with a version of Solar from a combined universe of Valiant and Image. This version of Solar gave his life turning into a black hole and absorbing the fracturing and dying combined universes, who was then "remembered" back into existence by Union, and had no memory of prior events. Deathmate was never again referenced by either company's continuity, and Solar never again displayed such ability in the canon Valiant works, which points to a different version of Solar altogether.
The original Valiant Solar has displayed the following abilities/powers:
- Energy Manipulation (Blasts, Draining, etc)
- Enhanced Durability
- Lightspeed Travel (Combat/Operation Speeds still maintained at human levels)
- Travel to the "backstage of reality"
- Wormhole creation and travel
- Gravity Manipulation
- Energy to matter conversion (and back again)
- Ability to remove himself from the timestream, which seemed to stop time, though he could not affect things in reality by doing so (could move around)
- Able to close a black hole
It should also be noted that at various periods of duress or stress, Phil's psyche would split off into a new being, as seen with the instances of the Gold Key Solar, Traveler, and Destroyer personas. He also showed the ability to re-emerge with at least one of these personas. This has often been misconstrued with the ability to create multiples, but Solar has never been shown to be able to do such a thing.
The Birthquake Solar seemed to display similar abilities for the most part, though he had the added power of being able to time travel, and then slowly alter the genetics/physiology of lifeforms on a planet over the period of it's evolution.
Dynamite Entertainment acquired several Gold Key characters including Solar, however in their volume of Solar: Man of the Atom they use the name Phil Seleski instead Phil Solar that is seen the Gold Key volume of Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom. This was so they could introduce his daughter Erica Seleski as the new Solar Woman of the Atom.