ASK INSIDEMAN™ “Why did you recommend DOC SAVAGE so highly?”

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)?”

There are currently 42 Doc Savage Pulp Reprints that contain 2 STORIES in every monthly issue. A SUPERB value!


My Reply:

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.

Tale of Two TOTALLY DIFFERENT LOOKING "Docs"! Doc Savage Volume 42: The Original Pulp Cover reprinted on the left and the 70's James Bama Paperback Cover reprinted on the right,

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!)

The VERY LAST Lester Dent (as Kenneth Robeson) written Doc Savage pulp story. Appropriately, it was Doc versus the Devil!


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! 🙂

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34 Responses to ASK INSIDEMAN™ “Why did you recommend DOC SAVAGE so highly?”

  1. tomstewdevine says:

    Great post Insideman, I have read his wiki page but other than that the only doc savage I have read is Tom Strong.

  2. Insideman says:

    Thanks, Tom. I truly hope some people give these a try.

    THEY ARE THAT COOL. (And who says we’re ONLY negative!) 🙂

  3. ed2962 says:

    I saw the Doc Savage movie on broadcast TV when I was a kid, but damned if I can remember what the plot was about. I have a few of the comics from DC with the Kubert art and thought they were ok. I have one from Marvel which I can’t make head or tails of. Maybe now I should check out the novels.
    Do you have an opinion of the Doc Savage tribute that was in the Planentary, Insideman? The character was called Doc Brass.

    • Insideman says:

      Ed, you can only thank yourself for not remembering that Doc Savage movie. Except for one or two clever moments, I HATE IT. (And I don’t ascribe that emotion to many pieces of entertainment.)

      The DC Comics with the Kubert art were recently reprinted. STAY AWAY. The story was by Denny O’Neil. Far and away one of the WORST things O’Neil has ever written. Doc in the present day. GOD IT SUCKS. I also hate to say it– but DC’s current Doc Savage comic BLOWS as well. The first 2 issues were all I could stand. So there is not a lot of Doc Savage comic material worth reading. Fine by me. THE PULP REPRINTS ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH.

      As far as The Planetary Doc Savage tribute… I only barely remember it. I do have the 2 ABSOLUTE EDITIONS… So I will check it out again. Thanks for reminding me, Ed! 🙂

  4. Tim Byrd says:

    Fantastic post. And it’s great to see someone else plugging Sanctum Books’s exceptional reprint series (not only of DOC SAVAGE, but THE SHADOW and THE AVENGER as well).

    I grew up reading the Bantam paperbacks, and they influenced me so much my first book (from Putnam) is an homage to them, DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM.

    Nice to encounter another member of the Brotherhood of Bronze…

    Tim Byrd

    • Insideman says:

      Thanks, Tim!

      Welcome to the Inveterate Media Junkies website. Yes, I am a huge fan of the Man of Bronze. Constantly amazed that no one can make a movie that works with these rich characters– and the vast inventory of fantastic Lester Dent stories.

      Then again, it was just 10 years ago they were seriously going to make a movie starring Schwarzenegger… Which would actually have been horrible… Much worse than his term(s) as California Governor.

      With Doc Savage clearly in Arnold’s sights: I was never more happy to see an actor enter politics. 😉

      I am also going to check out your website and your book! Again, thanks for posting!

      • Tim Byrd says:

        There’s hope for a good Doc movie: an old friend of mine , Shane Black, is writing and directing one.

        I’ve reported about it on my blog at (another WordPress locale), and anyone who’s interested can find the entries by searching for “Doc Savage” or “Shane Black.”

        You’re right about the new Doc comics, and the seventies film. Terrible.


        • Insideman says:

          Yes, I know that Shane is working on that and is a HUGE Doc fan.

          As long as he keeps control of it, the movie will be fine… But if he let’s go of, let’s say, any part of the process and allows the suits to do something stupid like hire a younger actor– Channing Tatum for example– we would be screwed again.

          If I had to pick anyone, I’d pick Shane to shepherd this. Until a couple of years ago I didn’t know he was such a big fan… But it makes sense given how much I like most of what he has done… And I can actually see a slight Lester Dent influence in his work and structure.

          Now go tell him to get off his ass and get it into production already. I’m not getting younger! 🙂

  5. Ironmuskrat says:

    I use to read the old Doc Savage novels when I a kid(am I dating myself), I remember them being pretty damn cool books, most of them being sorter stories,but some longer stories also being included.

    Doc was a little like Batman, but he wasn’t a vigilantly just out to fight crime, he was an adventurer/scientist who just found himself in the same orbit of a lot of criminals who were after the same things he was looking for.

    Now that I think about it, I find myself comparing Doc Savage more towards Indiana Jones, then Batman, but that just me.

    I have to be honest, I don’t know if I would recommend those older stories to my younger relatives, I am sure they would find them boring for all of the reasons stated by Insideman, not enough brutal violence, no body count, Doc isn’t talking shit to anyone, on the contrary, Doc a pretty polite guy, even to the people trying to kill him.

    But his stories are exciting, I remember one with Doc being trapped in an airplane with some bad guys, Doc is stuck in one part of the plane and the bad guys control the other, more important part of the plane. Doc Savage was doing Die Hard before Bruce Willis was even born =)

    Anyway, great review Insideman, and I will be definitely checking out those books in the near future.

    • Insideman says:

      Good analogy to Indiana Jones, IM… The only big difference, Indiana seems to get a lot more flustered by things and Doc isn’t afraid of snakes.

      You snag a couple of these IM, read them and then pass one along to one of the more conscientious of your little relatives and you might get a big shock.

      I reveled in gore, blood, violence and horror when I was younger. it was only later that I found most of it to be a lame excuse for action scenes or filler used by unimaginative book authors & TV/Film writers and directors.

      I even did it in a book I was writing once because I was momentarily lazy. For some reason, when I finished the scene– I was literally driven out of the house by the urge to go to my favorite NYC Irish Pub… Where I proceeded to get shitfaced. When I woke up in the morning, head thumping, I saw (to my disgust) what I had written sober and I ripped it into tiny pieces and actually forced myself to EAT one of the pages. (What can I say, I was young, idiotic and I am a METHOD actor!) Long aside shorter, I’ve never written or condoned an unnecessary action sequence since.

      Back to my point: You’ll find a lot of young people completely revile all this unnecessary violence and gore. They may put up with the Saw movies because their peers do but they may want something less graphic.

      And by less graphic– again I do NOT mean that Doc Savage is less edgy. The guy performs lobotomies on criminals and, as I also mentioned in the article– most of his villains die PERMANENT and grisly deaths.

      Doc may not kill them but he doesn’t hardly try to save them either!

      I’m glad you’re gonna check them out IM. They’re groovy! 🙂

      • Ironmuskrat says:

        I am sure your right about young people these days Insideman, my frustration with today’s youth comes from dealing with a twelve year old that thinks any movie, book or TV show made before the year 2000, is boring, dumb or weird.

        Maybe I can find a way to draw Harry Potter on the cover of a Doc Savage book, that might at least get me a chance =)

  6. philbyday says:

    As a youngling I was drawn 2 tales of the fantastic; The Avengers(J. Steed, E. Peel), The Champions (Stuart Damon) The Wild Wild West, Tarzan, etc. Doc Savage however never latched on 2 my psyche 4 some reason. Of course at the time my only exposure 2 Dr. S was (I’m not sure if it was a series per se, or a collection of movie serials) Ron Ely’s portrayal of the Man Of Bronze. Ron Ely near that time also played what was then my fave Tarzan, so I fig’d his Doc would be just as good, and maybe it was, but at the time……
    Azzerello’s take on Doc in DC’s !st Wave also has done nothing 2 compell me 2 check back n2 this character, but your empassioned interprtation on this character will perhaps at some point have me check back w/ this dude. I’m also willing 2 give The Shadow and The Phantom another look.
    Excellent posting ,ISM!

    • Insideman says:

      Thanks, Phil!

      As I mentioned in the article: The Ron Ely movie is an abomination. The current DC Books– at least from what I read– are just as bad (if for different reasons). You’re approaching the character from the aspect of inferior spin-offs. He wasn’t created in the movies or comics. He was created in the pulps and that’s where you need to go.

      I tell you what. Buy a copy of one of these Sanctum DOC SAVAGE Pulp Reprints. I don’t care which one. (It should be mentioned that keeps them in stock).

      Keep your receipt. Then read it.

      If you truly don’t think it is everything I said it was (and more), I will send you your money back. Cold, hard, American cash. And you can give the book to Goodwill for some other intrepid adventurer to discover (or re-discover) Doc.

      I see this as a win-win. If I’m correct, you win. If I am incorrect, you lose nothing (except your reading time, of course) and Goodwill makes a gain. 🙂

      For obvious reasons, I am extending this offer only to Phil– as I don’t need thousands of people I don’t know of taking me up on my money back offer. 😉

  7. I have been a fan of Doc Savage since I was young, and I still am. I have nearly the whole collection, some are battered and look like a dog ate part of them. I have some of the comics in mint condition but the magazines that had a short run with new stories were fantastic in black and white. The movie was a spoof of old Batman movie but as far as I can tell Ron Ely was the perfect person to play the role but his side kicks should have been re-cast and if the movie had been made serious with just the hint of humor like in the books. Today they would need the perfect actor to play his role and since I like watching wresting and the movies they produce, they have the physique and the seriousness to play the role.

    I believe that in my opinion from what I read that Doc Savage was before Superman and that DC comics stole his character and just added powers to him. Everything about the two were the same…especially down to the Fortress of Solitude where they went to study and learn and guess what they, they just happen to both be in the Arctic.

    I am Canadian and I’m sad to say that America’s best super man, who brought about so much action is so unknown in your country. I am an author and am using pulp characteristics in my next story which is on-line on my website to bring about a character who raises himself up to be like Doc Savage. There will be a character like the Shadow in the novel as well. Of course the story will be where it should be in the wilds of Canada and in our Capital (bet most American’s can’t name it!).

    If you feel like reading some it is on my website and is called “The Cerebral Maze”…its a teaser but there is a lot of reading for 14 chapters. Let me know what you think!

    My question to my fellow neighbours….who would be the best actor to play America’s favorite super man…..Doc Savage?

    I think his best story for Canada was “The mystery in the snow” or something like that.

    Write me, Marc Cardinal

    • Insideman says:

      Welcome to the site, Marc! I had NO IDEA there were so many dedicated Doc Fans! WOW!

      Also thanks for bringing up the Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic. A great point!

      Also can’t way to read your next pulp inspired story.

      As far as BEST ACTOR for Doc? All of the following would have to beef up and they would have to COMPLETELY SERIOUS. I am also assuming that the filmmakers will be going with the more natural, original pulp ideal– and not James Bama’s redesigned Superman with the hair/skullcap.

      Nathan Fillion (For those who haven’t met Nate, he’s 6′ 2″ tall)
      Leo DiCaprio (5′ 11″ but claims to be 6′ tall)
      Jon Hamm (Don’t give Superman. Give him something BETTER!)
      John Barrowman (No kissing Dudes in this story. Sorry John!)
      Ben Affleck (Man’s gonna be up for a BEST ACTING OSCAR next year for “The Town”. You heard it hear first! His smoking hot wife JENNIFER GARNER could play Doc’s cousin PAT SAVAGE too.)

      That’s just a few and I resisted putting the ROCK on the list. 🙂

      My dream cast would have all of Doc’s 5 associates played by top notch actors too… Just like the cast of Marvel’s Avengers movie. I could go on and on who I think would be great for Monk, Renny, Ham, Johnny & Long Tom…

      What does everybody else think?

      • philbyday says:

        Nathan: Good actor, but always looks like he’s gonna say something snarky, even if he’s not.

        Leo: Good actor, but looks terminally kiddish

        JonHamm: Don’t watch the show he’s on, but from clips, has that ruggedness that the ladies like and the coolness that the dudes can dig.

        Barrowman: No point of reference.

        Ben Affleck: 4 all the $#!+ that he takes, he might be the best pick. Not the greatest actor, but he tends 2 better if he has a good supporting cast around him.

        Now since obviously I’m not nearly as up on the man of bronze as u r, ISM; I thought I’d put my two cents in, anyway;

        Along w/ Hamm & Affleck as contenders…..
        I’d add 2 the list, Jason Statham; The hairline matches perfectly. Wentworth Miller has the right amount of prescence,charm & bad assery, and Vindiesel., just ’cause.

        I’m gonna go out on a limb here, and assume even if the books were 2 the contrary, the movie studios r not gonna want any1 competing w/ Doc 4 machismo points, so we’re talking character actors or oddities 4 Doc’s aides. With that in mind, my list as follows would be;

        GregKinnear (tho he might have 2 fem it up a bit) Sorry Greg
        & Renee whathisname from the Professional

        Femme Fatales
        Kate Beckinsale

        • Insideman says:

          Statham is to “street”.
          Wentworth might be a prospect in a few more years.
          Knowing Vin, I wouldn’t hire him to cut my yard.

          Nathan does look snarky– hence why I vigorously stated that all actors “would have to COMPLETELY SERIOUS.”

          Leo is getting older by the day and would fit the original pulp icon I was referring to.

          I like your picks for some of Doc’s associates… Except Patton Oswalt. Better heard and not seen.

      • Heck says:

        DiCaprio would do a good job. I think he totally fits that ’30s look’.

        Ben Affleck, as well. I hope you’re right about his Oscar nod, I’ve been a big fan of his all the way. To anyone who said he couldn’t act, I would just refer them to ‘HollywoodLand’ and his brilliant portrayal of the late George Reeves.

      • Tim Byrd says:

        Mark Valley of HUMAN TARGET.

        Though Barrowman would rock.


    • Heck says:

      Doc Savage did premier before Superman, but the concept that Siegel and Shuster turned into Superman predates Savage by a couple of months.

      ‘Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization’, Issue #3 (Jan. 1933) featured a story by Jerry and Joe called ‘Reign of the Super-man’. Granted this ‘Super-man’ was much different from our Superman (he was evil, and a cackling mad scientist) he did share the title and overall concept, which was Nietzsche’s Übermensch.

      The duo was unsatisfied with this and decided to go a different route, making Super-man into ‘The Superman’ a champion of the oppressed, with a Buck Rogers spin, who relied on brains AND brawn.

      I do agree that the idea of the Fortress was lifted from Doc Savage though.

  8. Why won’t my e-mail and website along with my name be used. I filled in the required fields?

    • Insideman says:

      Marc wanted his website and email to show on his posts.

      Since Word Press doesn’t allow that feature (I am assuming for security and anonymity reasons) I will share the addresses with everyone:

      His site: htpp://
      His email:

      Next time you post Marc, just be sure to put that information in the TEXT of your message and it will be available for people to contact you.

  9. Stamps says:

    So after reading this I think you might be right, I could definitely see me liking these.
    If I get a Doc Savage book which one would be a good starter Savage fans?

    • Insideman says:


      I agree with BOTH of these REVIEWS Stamps! Great jumping on points!

      Doc Savage Vol. 9: The Majii / the Golden Man

      The Majii is one of the all time best Doc Savage adventures and a great jump on point for new readers. Though the pulp cover pales in comparison to the magnificent Bama paperback version the added historical articles make up for it and the restoration is top notch from Mike Piper. The second offering, The Golden Man, contains extra material deleted from the original pulp and paperback versions. This particular novel has been one of the hardest to get a hold of in the series and a very interesting tale. Highly recommended.

      Doc Savage, Vol. 13: Brand of the Werewolf / Fear Cay

      What a wonderful combination! These two novels are some of the best or most important in the Doc Savage canon. In Werewolf we meet the beautiful, young, impetuous cousin of Doc, Patricia Savage. She would become the most famous recurring character in the series outside of the tightly-bound Band of Iron. You get an instant sense why in her first adventure, when she refuses to stay out of harm’s way and rushes side-by-side into danger.

  10. TheMSpot says:

    Great post Insideman.
    Glad to see someone pushing the pulps.
    I’ve been reading The Shadow pulps, not only are the stories in these reprints of top quality, but the quantity of stories by some of these writers is impressive to say the least. Also, the new material added to these reprints are fun and informative.
    Who knew Ghost Rider was inspired by The Shadow?

  11. Pingback: I Am Doc Savage (Pulp Pit # 1) « Under An Outlaw Moon

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