Hack/Slash asked why I recommended Doc Savage so highly and I responded with a LONG REASON WHY. (No shock there.)
Mr. Melendez thought I ought to take the opportunity to start a new column that will feature my long replies and show up as need arises… And Ask Insideman™ is born!
Hack/Slash’s Original Question (extracted from a longer post)…
“…Whats up with this Doc Savage? Is he the first superhero? Before Superman? I got I think 2 issues from Doc Savage from the 70s published by Marvel at that time... Didn’t DC publish the guy too at one time? What do I need to know about this guy (that’s so great)?”
Doc Savage came after (or right around) the first appearance of Superman… But people often see him as a prototype to Batman/Bruce Wayne– as he was raised to be the best (best mind, best intellect, best fighting skills, etc). he is a surgeon too. (Hence the name “Doc”.) His parents are both dead. He is also filthy rich. He also has a strict NO KILL policy (although villains often die at their own hands and by their own devices).
Areas where Doc Savage truly varies from Batman:
He uses his real name.
He has a stable cast of several sidekicks/grown men who help him with their various specialties. They have fun personalities, rivalries and macho nicknames.
He sends the criminals that don’t die in brawls to his upstate New York “Crime College” where he actually performs pre-frontal lobotomies on the crooks to take away their urge to maim, steal and kill!
The series, in my mind, was the BEST PULP SERIES with the BEST WRITING. When you consider that LESTER DENT (under the pen name Kenneth Robeson) pumped out one of these a month… The high quality is STAGGERING.
These reprints actually give you TWO PULP REPRINTS (2 months worth)– two stories– for $14.95. This is an unreal value!
SOME editions have an ORIGINAL PULP COVER edition (featuring the original painting) and ANOTHER EDITION featuring the famous James Bama painted covers from the Bantam Press Paperback Reprints that started back in the 1970s. Bantam did NOT reprint some of the stories– so there is NOT always a corresponding Bama cover. ALL editions feature the original pulp sketches inside– which compliment the action in the story.
There are a FINITE NUMBER of Doc Savage stories. You can find an overview at Vintage Library (just click the link). But as I mentioned, you can also find much better prices. I really think we have a shot to see ALL these stories finally reprinted by one publisher again.
Finally Hack/Slash– if you like comics with edge but draw the line at exploding heads, rape, women getting their heads ripped off or superheroes physically torn in half… The Doc Savage is the book for you.
Doc is a DETECTIVE and an ADVENTURER but he is NOT a SUPERHERO. Again, he is just an extraordinary man, extraordinarily well-trained. He is so expertly defined– that is why many credit him as the TEMPLATE for the Modern Day superhero.
I have loved these books for a LONG TIME. Set in the 1930s– they hold up perfectly today. Dent (like Chester Gould in the old Dick Tracy comic strip) often created gadgets that are well-known and in use today. (It’s always fun to see these “futuristic” inventions described.)
There’s only 42 Books in this reprint series so far… Which may sound daunting… But the great thing, buy 2 or 3. Get a feel for them. THEY ARE ALL READILY AVAILABLE.
Lester Dent mostly writes them in CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. (The last of the stories– never reprinted widely in any commercial form I am aware of– actually feature an OLDER Doc Savage, unable to do some of the things he could easily accomplish at the beginning of the series… And he’s FIGHTING SATAN!)
MY HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.
If you, or anyone else, takes the plunge. I would love to hear your reaction.
[Plus there is a movie DEFINITELY in the works. Get in before they explode! For my money you can skip ALL the comic book versions. I think they pretty much all stink. Well, there was that short 70’s version printed by Marvel you mentioned that was passable– but that’s it.]
[Also run far away from the GEORGE PAL movie from the 70’s. Horrible, dated and reminiscent of all the BAD THINGS in the old Batman TV Show from the 1960s.]
[Plus, you’ll want to note that a pulp character called The Avenger was also printed under the nom de plume of Kenneth Robeson but these were NOT usually Lester Dent written tales. While good in their own right… I don’t have the affinity for them that I have for Doc Savage.]
STAMPS would love these too. I just know she would– since she is such a big fan of the Bat… She would have to love his progenitor! :-)