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Doctor Week: Part Five! An apple a day won’t keep this doctor away. Normally, I would drop a hint or two in the header here as to who the featured person/character of the day is, but frankly, I’m too pulped out. …oops.
88. Doc Savage
I miss the pulp hero. Lester Dent gave us the best. Doc Savage is the epitome of the pulp adventurer. He’s a doctor, a scientist, a fighter, and a dozen other things– he’s very much a modern renaissance man. He’s basically a pre-Batman: a tough-as-nails expert in all things, trained from birth to be the perfect male specimen. Doc’s got it all. He’s rich, he’s strong, he’s got his own fortress of solitude that pre-dates Superman’s! He’s also called the Man of Bronze. I can see why. Look at his skin. The man is extremely tan. He either coats himself in oils all the time, or he’s got some hideous skin cancer no one’s told him about.
The pulp magazines were the precursors to serial comics, and I’m going to treat Doc Savage (real name: Clark Savage, Jr) in much the same way as I did the Shadow– he’s comic book hero from outside comics, though he’s starred in plenty of them. The pulps helped birth and became absorbed by the comics industry; therefore, Doc Savage fits as a Reason, whereas Doctor Who doesn’t. Hopefully that makes sense.
His pulp magazine, however, is where it started, and there are about five trillion novels out there as well. In terms of comics, Savage has had multiple series: an old old run from Street & Smith in the Golden Age, a couple runs from DC, a couple from Marvel, a few from Millenium publications, an issue from Gold Key, etc. He’s been the archetype of a pulp hero, true, but has veered off into multiple adventure-type genres, including a stint as a full-fledged superhero in the Golden Age.
Now there’s a surreal cover. Doc Savage teams with George Burns! I’d love to see that. So long as Doc Savage wasn’t played by John Denver.
Doc Savage stories predicted the future: answering machines, automatic transmissions, automatic weapons, night vision goggles– the Doc beat reality to the punch! And you do not want to screw with him– he lobotomized a lot of his enemies to set them straight. Let’s hope no one gets the bright idea to do a Doc Savage “Identity Crisis.”
Rocket skis! Dig it. When will reality catch up and give me the rocket skis I’ve been dreaming about?
I quite like the concept of Doc Savage, and I think it’s time for a revival. Warren Ellis’ Apparat line of one-shots taught me the pulp heroes can easily survive in modern times and lead to plenty of good stories. Doc Savage can return to herald us to a new era of adventure stories. He’s the hero who can exist comfortably in any genre: on land, under the sea, above the clouds, fighting in the jungle, in the city, in space. And no one can pull off the ripped shirt look like Doc Savage. He’s got that market cornered.
Here, have some covers:
I’d like to go far more in-depth, but I’m hampered by my shameful lack of knowledge and a rising illness. Fear not, though, I shall soon link you to fantastic Doc Savage resources that will tell you far more than I ever could. Heck, just ask fellow CSBGer Greg Hatcher. He’s the resident expert on this type of thing. Hopefully, I just shined some extra light on a pulp hero who deserves to be remembered and embraced by current and future readers.
As it stands, I’m completely hopped up on Dayquil, so the above could all be gibberish. Hence, I will leave the following to you, dear readers: how would you resurrect the concept of Doc Savage? A new comic? Novels? Movies? TV? Radio series? Go crazy.
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