Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Doc Savage in the Comics

Doc Savage has enjoyed numerous incarnations in the four-color world during his seventy-five years in the world of fictional adventuring.

Street & Smith first brought their pulp character into comics with 1940's Doc Savage Comics #1, which ran for 20 issues between May 1940 and October 1943. They couldn't resist the urge to pattern Doc after the other caped wonders exploding across the landscape, so by his fifth issue he started wearing a red hood and going around bare-chested.

Twenty+ years later, Gold Key released a single issue adaptation of the Doc Savage pulp novella, The Thousand-Headed Man in 1966 as a tie-in for the proposed Doc Savage movie, but no further issues came in its wake when the film project was scraped.

Not quite a decade later, with Bantam Books enjoying enormous success re-issuing the old pulp stories as paperbacks, under some beautiful James Bama painted covers, Marvel Comics mined the Savage mythos with an eight issue run of Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze #1; beginning in October 1972. This series featured nice Ross Andru interior artwork and a couple of covers by the legendary Jim Steranko. Marvel tried Doc out again in their oversize, black & white magazine line in 1975, but this much better series [the subject of one of my earlier 1970's Flashbacks] also sadly, only lasted eight issues.

Marvels Distinguished competition (DC Comics) also gave Doc a whirl in a four issue, mini-series beginning with Doc Savage #1 in 1987. This revisionist effort, which portrayed a generational family of Doc and his heirs, led to a 24 issue run beginning the following year.

In the 1990's, both Millennium Publications and Dark Horse comics published various Doc related one-shots and mini-series, but neither company stuck with the Man of Bronze beyond this.

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