August 6, 2011

The Man of Bronze in Black & White

Imagine, if you will, me around seven or eight years old - making my way from my grandmother's house near Archer and California to the Brighton Park library to check out some worn Doc Savage Bantam reissues....and then heading to a smoke shop at the corner of Archer and Kedzie to purchase the magazine version to read on the relatively long bus ride back to my Bridgeport home.

In the mid-1970s, Marvel had published a black-and-white comics version of Doc Savage, focusing mainly on original stories. Ironically, much like their color comics, DC (in likely anticipation of a big-screen Doc Savage adventure) has reprinted the black-and-white series as part of their Showcase series. And Showcase Presents: Doc Savage is not just a decent recreation of Doc in comic form....but is a definite must-own for fans of classic pulp fiction, comic storytelling...and just plain good comics.

Most of the stories are written by Doug Moench, and illustrated by Tony DeZuniga with some exceptions, and really reflect a much more "mature" approach than the color comics. This doesn't necessarily mean graphic violence so much as that the writing seems slightly more sophisticated, and the plots are more original. (One plot even indicates a slight familiarity with then-current 70s fads). But DeZuniga's black and white art is, much like Marvel's Essential Moon Knight, Vol. 1, a nearly perfect fit with the black & white Showcase format. (Some will state that using the "phone book" style paper detracts from the quality; I say it actually gives the art a little more oomph. You decide).

Nostalgia can be a tricky thing - what one enjoys in their youth can often seem a waste of time later on (as I found out when revisiting the original Battlestar: Galactica, among other things). But if DC's Showcase Presents: Doc Savage is one of those works that deserves fond attention both then...and now.

Definitely a must-own for pulp fans, comic fans, and/or people who love great adventures. Yes, friends, believe the hype - it's that great.

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