Full disclosure: I never ‘got’ the whole Doc Savage thing. And, honestly, that’s always befuddled me a bit. See, I’ve always been a HUGE fan of almost all things pulp, and Doc Savage is one of the major creations of that original pulp era. The best I’ve ever been able to conclude is that Doc and his team of do-gooders just never really inspired me to want to follow their various adventures more closely. They always seemed a bit like an ‘out of place, out of time’ A-Team called in to do whatever was necessary to return the world to normalcy, and they always seemed to do it with way too many words and too little action.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Clark Savage Jr. is called away from making his presentation to Albert Einstein and his colleagues because there’s trouble brewing in his city: it seems regular citizens have been reduced to random acts of violence, but, as Doc and his crew show up and begin their investigation, it seems that this rapid activity is confined to a relatively small area. It soon stops, but, when it returns, the affected area has grown much larger. How long will it be until the entire city is overcome with madness? Doc and the others will stop at nothing to reveal this phantom menace before that happens … or they’ll die trying!
As I said above, Doc Savage just never did much for me as a character, and – as first issues go – it’s really hard to get excited about this one. Chris Roberson and his crew of artists do the best they can with the source material. While they manage to bring Doc and his loquacious sidekicks to life, they’ve basically just recreated ‘what was’ instead of re-incarnating this action team with a greater sense of contemporary purpose. They’re all here to fight crime, and each one of them being just a bit more squeaky clean than the last – and all of them sounding like the worst British fops, too.
Perhaps that’s near and dear to why Savage never meant all that much to me: not one of them sound relatively authentic. Of course, this isn’t to say that other pulp standards like Conan the Barbarian or Solomon Kane or The Shadow are any less or any more authentic; rather, in their tales, it’s the action that drives the tale, and not necessarily their attitudes about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as is the case with these Village People. In fact, Roberson’s also responsible for penning the relatively lackluster incarnation of The Shadow presently in Dynamite’s stable of characters, so perhaps I shouldn’t have expected much from this one.
DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE #1 is published by Dynamite Entertainment. The story is written by Chris Roberson; illustrated by Bilquis Evely; colored by Daniela Miwa; and lettered by Rob Steen. For those truly interested in the title, there appear to be several different cover variations available as specialty purchases. It all comes with the cover price of $3.99 … not a bad price, but nothing to write home about, either.
RECOMMENDED mostly for die-hard Doc Savage fans of any age. It isn’t that this first issue from Dynamite isn’t a good jumping-on point; it’s just that – as a first issue – it really isn’t all that interesting as graphic stories go.
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