May 17, 2010

A Different Glance At the Golden Age, Part Two

When I attended the Windy City Pulp & Paper Con back in April, I was speaking with fellow Comic Related amigo Ron Fortier, and I posted this question:

How could Paul Malmont, who did such a great job with The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, fail so miserably with DC's First Wave: Doc Savage?

It's not like Malmont doesn't do a great job connoting that 1930s - 1940s pulp atmosphere. The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril is everything you could expect in a pulp novel, an imaginative story involving how Walter Gibson (writer of The Shadow) and Lester Dent (who wrote Doc Savage) fight a great, pulp-inspired threat. It's the kind of novel that is a great, enthusiastic read, not just for the inspired in-jokes and references (such as to HP Lovecraft and L Ron Hubbard), but it's a well written, taught novel that hits all the right spaces.

Malmont's work on First Wave: Doc Savage? A thudding, immense disappointment.

Unfortunately, although I am enjoying First Wave, the mini-series...I'm not warming to Doc Savage, a man of the future, walking around in a neo-present atmosphere. These two issues are non-stop action, and not in a good way. Characters don't ring true, the art looks horrendous, situations seem extremely implausible, and....well, after two issues, I'm ending it from my pull file. Normally, I give a book three issues before I quit. It's enough to make me miss the "glory days" of Chip Savage 

(Yes, I said that out loud. And I hated O'Neill's run on Savage)

And the "Justice, Inc" backup feature? Well, I took Ron Fortier's advice and purchased the reprint of The Avenger # 1 from Adventure House. It was taught, suspenseful, and could have easily been made into a movie the way John Huston made The Maltese Falcon (1941) - just take the novel and add camera directions.

But anyway, my other major enjoyment was Martin Gram Jr's 800 page of The Green Hornet: A History of Radio, Motion Pictures, Comics and TelevisionIt's possibly one of the best pop culture histories I've read this year. And I'm hoping to, within the next week, start Lester Dent's Honey in His Mouth

(Post Script: I read Honey in His Mouth in June 2010 - here's the review)

If you're looking for great, pulp-influenced action, then avoid First Wave: Doc Savage. Go straight to the source - just click on one of the photos  below. (I get a small amount back from every order). You'll enjoy some great reading, and quite frankly, get a better sense of Doc Savage than Paul Malmont does.

1 comment:

Ron Fortier said...

Excellent blog, Gordon, and I honestly agree with you. I don't think its that Malmont doesn't know Doc as much as he doesn't know comics. He seems determined to make it all action as if someone told him character development was only in novels. Wrong. And yes, the art in this book is really poor. Considering all the great pros NOT working today, it's a crime this guy got the job.
In the end if bemoaning the state of pulps in comics, hang on to your fedora, as Moonstone Originals are on the way..and those are pulp heroes done right.
You have my word on it.