Doc Savage #1 (Dynamite)

Doc Savage1

Rating: 4.5/5 – Finally a Doc Savage comic done right!

Bravo to Chris Roberson, this is Doc Savage done right!   I’ve been reading Doc Savage stories since Jr. High when I discovered the Bantam paperback reprints of his pulp adventures, more years ago than I care to remember.  I’ve since read his comic book incarnations from Gold Key, Marvel, Millennium, DC, Dark Horse, some better than others, but always feeling like something was missing.

Roberson knows Doc & his Fabulous Five.  We get an adventure here with Doc acting “in character” from the pulps and the same for Monk, Ham, Johnny, Long Tom, and Renny.  It seems like a small detail, but it’s something most other comics versions have gotten wrong somewhere or another.  It’s probably not going to be noticeable at all to people who are not Doc aficionados, but it adds to the experience for those of us who are and surely won’t hurt for people who are reading Doc for the first time to be introduced to a Doc who is faithful to his roots.

Probably most shocking to casual readers upon opening the book will be Doc’s hair, which is done in the relatively normal hairstyle that graced Doc’s appearances on the Pulp covers, as opposed to the widows-peaked skullcap of hair that was popularized on the Bantam paperback covers.  The main image on the cover (by Alex Ross) shows the James Bama influenced Doc of the paperbacks, complete with torn shirt and jhodpurs (those crazy pants snug from the knee down, but that flare out from the knee to the hip).  But look up and to the left of that main image and you get the wavy-haired Doc popularized on the covers of the pulp magazines.

We’re back to his beginnings in 1933 for this story.  We get brief introductions to each member of the cast as he is first introduced much as was done in all of the original stories, they always assumed any Doc story was somebody’s first and didn’t skip over details.  It didn’t hurt that the writers were being paid by the word, so adding some extra description also padded their paychecks a bit.   We get the setup: Something strange is going on in New York and Doc and the crew investigate. Over the course of the story we get introduced to a lot of elements from the Doc Savage mythos: Doc’s headquarters on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, mercy bullets, Doc’s upstate New York Crime College, all done fairly subtly as part of the story and massive Easter Eggs for Doc fans who know the details behind these elements that will no doubt be expanded upon for new readers in upcoming issues.

In this issue Doc and his Fabulous Five solve the immediate mystery, but Roberson is also setting up a larger story to be explored over future issues.  So we get a done-in-one story that is also linking to a larger narrative.  I love it!  I’m really looking forward to seeing Roberson weave back in forth in time and visit Doc and his crew in different eras.  Issue 2 is set in 1949, will explore the Crime College in more detail, AND introduces his cousin Pat Savage.  I can hardly wait!  You’ve got me on board Mr. Roberson, the train is just pulling out of the station I hope we’re in for a long ride.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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