COMIC BOOK REVIEW: DOC SAVAGE ARCHIVES: VOLUME 1 / AUTHOR: CHRIS ROBERSON / ARTIST: BILQUIS EVELY / PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 20TH
In the mind of his creator Lester Dent, Clark “Doc” Savage, Jr. was the ultimate Renaissance action man: a certified genius (inventor, physician, surgeon, scientist) with the investigative talents of Sherlock Holmes, the goodness of Abraham Lincoln, incomparable skills as an adventurer, martial artist and… err… musician (?) all bundled up inside the sculptured physique of Tarzan and the impossible handsomeness of a Hollywood idol. Oh, and he was humungously rich as well. Doc Savage was Superman five years before the Man of Steel arrived from Krypton (he even had his own Fortress of Solitude) and there was absolutely nothing this doyen of human perfection couldn’t do from his secret headquarters on the 86th floor of the world’s tallest building apart from wear a shirt properly. But if I was ripped like Doc Savage I’d never wear a shirt properly either.
Doc Savage starred in numerous pulp novels, comic books and radio serials following his first appearance in 1933, but thankfully only one movie – 1975’s spectacularly awful Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze – despite occasional threats that he’s coming back to the silver screen again (don’t do it Shane Black, we know where you live). Most recently, Dynamite Entertainment attempted a reboot, helmed by writer Chris Roberson and artist Bilquis Evely, which met with rather a mixed reception. That’s probably why Dynamite have decided to get back to comparative basics with Doc Savage Archives: Volume 1, a handsome tome that sensibly sidesteps the Roberson/Evely version and instead collects together the eight Doc Savage comic book/movie tie-ins published between Fall 1975 and Spring 1977 by Marvel imprint Curtis Magazines.
Dynamite made a great call. Doc Savage Archives is a good-looking trip down memory lane that’s so heavy with nostalgia it will almost make you want to do bad things to yourself - i.e. watch the Doc Savage movie again. Whatever you do, resist. Nothing is worth that. In fact, it’s helpful to realise that none of the comic book stories included in these eight issues bear any relation to that misguided bow-wow of a film (not even the characters look like the actors who portrayed them) and they’re a lot more fun because of it.
But easily the best parts are the unconsciously silly ‘Doc Savage is going to be the movie hit of the century’ articles, interviews and photographs scattered in between the comics, written by people who obviously hadn’t seen the film yet about people who were trying to keep a brave face while obviously knowing their careers would soon be under more water than the Titanic.
So much fun it’ll have the shirt off your back.
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