Monday, April 19, 2010

Pulp-Powered Prose: Doc Savage!

We have spent quite a lot of this month so far discussing Pulp comics and will continue to discuss a few more as we go. Why? Because many of the best pulp-inspired stories come out of modern comics. It’s one of the reasons I consider Pulp Empire so important.

But one place the pulps are still alive is in noted pulp historian Anthony Tollin’s series of Doc Savage reprints. Produced through Nostalgia Ventures, this thirty-five volume (so far) series reprints two classic Doc stories per issue with a combination of classic covers and the more up to date James Bama covers from the sixties and seventies. Inside, you will find a historical essay or two, and more importantly, two great adventures of Doc, Ham, Monk, Johnny, Renny, and Long Tom.

I have picked up a few so far, mostly through my local Half Price Books, but I would recommend everyone start from the beginning of the classic series. That means finding a copy of Doc Savage #14: “The Man of Bronze” & “The Land of Terror”. It features the first two stories of the classic pulp hero; stories that clearly have inspired everything from the A-Team to Superman.

“The Man of Bronze” introduces Doc and his team and sends him out on his first major adventure. He goes to South America to find his father’s killer and in the process finds a secret tribe, a group of tribal assassins, and a greedy business man. And a whole hell of a lot of gold.

“:The Land of Terror” is more gruesome than the usual Doc tale as Doc and company travel to a lost bit of the world where dinosaurs still walk the earth. While not as good as “The Man of Bronze” and far more violent than other Doc tales, it still makes a decent second novel in this collection (if for no other reason than it was the second story).

An autobiography of Doc writer Lester Dent and a history of the character’s origin as written by pulp historian Will Murray close out this volume.

And that leaves thirty-five more volumes to go!

While Doc remains a mostly forgotten hero in a lot of the world’s eyes, a new series at DC and an upcoming movie project seem set to bring the character to explosive life once again. In the mean time, go find a couple copies of these amazing pulp replica editions. I suspect you will find yourself just as engrossed by the epic adventures as I was. Recommended.

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