July 19, 2010

DC Does Doc Savage Right (Kind Of...)

Imagine a Saturday night - hanging out at Third Coast Comics, arguing with other comics fans as part of a Meetup, and then heading into the shop to browse. There, on the lowest rung of a rack....I see a fine treasure: a newly released trade paperback of Doc Savage comics by DC.

There were two things that surprised me about DC's Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze trade paperback. The first...is that this is a compilation of Marvel's initial run back in the early 1970s (minus the black-and-white magazine stories or the Marvel Two-in-One Doc/Ben Grimm crossover)

(Yes, I double checked. Thanks, Wikipedia!)

What's also surprising was that although these comics are not word-for-word recreations of the pulps, there's a really good synergy between Lester Dent's prose and plotting and the "mighty Marvel style". Roy Thomas (for the first two issues), and then Steve Englehart do their best to adapt some classic Doc stories and with Ross Andru's art (with Tom Palmer inking), makes for some crackling good reads. (Although, at some point, I would love to read the black & white material again, just out of my own curiosity).

(Obviously, I prefer the Millennium comics run as the most true to the material - hey, Checker, when are you going to reprint those? Especially since Marvel seems to have handed the material over to DC without much of a fight...)

But given Dent's own special formula for writing, it makes a lot of sense for his prose to mesh with Marvel-style writing, and given only eight issues of material, makes for a pretty decent starter read. For those of you new to Doc, this is a really strong first taste...just be sure to avoid DC's other trade Doc Savage: The Silver Pyramid (in which Denny O'Neill gets Doc so wrong, Conde Nast should sue for defamation of character) and begin ordering the reprints from Adventure House. You will thank me later. Seriously.

It's ironic - I've complained bitterly about the way DC has handled Doc Savage, and now, they get it right...but only by publishing their competitor's efforts.

Draw your own conclusions, but this is one Doc trade you have to read.


Johnny Bacardi said...

The Marvel comics were my introduction to Doc and Co. at age 12; after reading the first issue, I went out and picked up the first paperback reprint I found on the racks: The Majii, and from that moment on I was a fan.

I think Ross Andru's rendition of Doc and the Five are second only to James Bama (and yeah, Dave Stevens)- for many years, when I'd read a Bantam reprint, it would be Andru's version I'd see in my mind.

Gordon D said...

I think I started backwards - reading THE MAN OF BRONZE, leapfrogging into the B & W magazines, and then the comics (and back into the books, which I tracked down at thrift stores and stuff...)

The Andru stuff really does hold up. I do wish the Milennium stuff would be published...and that O'Neill's 1988 series would fade into obscurity....