Doc Savage #1 (Comics Review)

Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze, is not a character that I’m familiar with at all. I think I’d heard the name before the week before last when I read the Doc Savage Annual 2014, but I can’t be sure of that. The annual issue itself was quite interesting and it made me want to read more about Doc Savage, but that’s really it. The art was decent, the writing was decent, but it never got to be more than that. But at the same time, Doc Savage appears to be quite the pulp hero, and since I’ve recently started taking more of an interest in the pulp side of things, I decided to experiment more with Doc Savage.

Doc Savage #1 was released last year and was the start of a new series of comics about this hero from Dynamite Entertainment. Chris Roberson for me is a decent writer at best, given what I’ve read of some of his other comics and his work for Warhammer 40,000 with his Dawn of War novel, but in Doc Savage #1 I think he does a pretty good job. The characterisation of Clark Savage, Jr. aka Doc Savage is interesting and so is it for his supporting cast. Plus the artwork by Bilquis Evely and the others is also decent and evocative o the period that the story is set in, so that’s another thing.

Doc Savage 001Not knowing much about the character or his supporting cast, and having only the recently released Doc Savage Annual 2014 to go on, I felt a bit wrong-footed with this issue at first, but Chris Roberson jumped into the thick of it pretty quickly and then he was on a roll all the way to the end. He presented a complex and intriguing mystery for the good guys to figure out before the clock hit midnight and it was pretty fun to see an action hero being presented as a thinker as well a detective of sorts. And the same goes for his supporting cast too. They may all be creatures of action but they also have a keen mind. And that is extremely refreshing to see, because more often that not, characters in such settings just blunder on to the solutions. Not so here!

At times, it felt as if the plot was getting stretched out a bit and what I would have liked to have seen is a bigger mystery, perhaps something a bit more complex. As it was, what we get it something that is a bit silly with a sort of a cop-out ending. Sure, stories are always about the journey and never the end (or so goes one piece of literary wisdom), but for me, a story is about everything, the start, the middle, the finish, everything. And on that front, Doc Savage #1 doesn’t deliver as I expected.

Along the way however, what Chris Roberson does best is introduce a large cast very economically and keep things consistent from the beginning to the end without any kind of unnecessary detours that would otherwise derail the story and thus affect the pacing as well. And in a pulp-style story, pacing is quite important I think. Without good pacing, no story is good in and of itself, but for pulp that applies more so since there’s a bit of a nostalgic cheesiness about it all, and that can affect a reader’s perception.

For this reader, the overall package proved to be quite a good one, despite some of the missteps made, and I have to say that after having read the recent annual and now this issue, I’m definitely in the camp of people who like Doc Savage comics.

The issue is illustrated by Bilquis Evely, with colours by Daniela Miwa and letters by Rob Steen while Alex Ross provides a most gorgeous cover, as is usual for him. The artwork in the comic is fairly decent, and in a few places it does come across as gorgeous as the cover art, so I don’t really have much in the way of complaints. Some stiff character work here and there perhaps, with a bit too much colour in some of the pages, and that’s really it. All the art is detailed enough and the expressions are good enough that I can look past all that.

I am quite behind on this series, sure, but I can’t wait to catch up!

Rating: 8.5/10

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Posted on June 11, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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