Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pulp of the Week - Batman / Doc Savage

Batman / Doc Savage Special
DC Comics
Written by Brian Azzarello, Illustrated by Phil Noto

Cover by J.G. Jones

Alternate cover by Rags Morales

This Review Contains Spoilers!

This one shot is meant as a publicity vehicle to promote DC's "First Wave" line of comic books. Unfortunately, despite beautiful art, the book falls flat. There is neither adventure nor excitement in this tale called, "Bronze Night." This story's sole purpose is to let Doc Savage and The Batman meet.

There is little else in this tale. As an introduction to DC's pulp universe, there isn't much happening. The art is lovely. There are some character bits with Batman and Doc, but these are expressed mostly in 1st person narrative. Doc and Batman find common ground - they have both lost their fathers and are crimefighters because of it. While Doc doesn't like Batman's methods, as long as Batman isn't a killer, he seems OK with it. Batman thinks Doc may not be as squeaky clean as his public persona.

Batman lives in Gotham City and Doc Savage lives in New York City. They are not the same in the First Wave Universe, so these characters may have limited interaction.

I like the way Bruce Wayne and Batman are handled here, Batman is a rookie, operating as a vigilante. He is packing twin .45s ala The Shadow and is a bit reckless.

Some of Phil Noto's incredible art

On the other hand, Doc Savage served in the War and has had some adventures. Doc operates with the cooperation of the police and has his five aids intact. I think that Doc was presented well, a person admired by many. He is the physical and intellectual peak of humanity. As in the novels, he has a dry sense of humor and is self depreciating. Doc is described as being "mixed-race", perhaps in tribute to a oft held belief among fans that his mother was Mayan.

Renny is the only one of his aids to appear in this story, and it is a brief appearance. Renny catches Batman searching Doc's hotel room and decks him.

This story doesn't alter the Doc Savage as much as many have feared. His character and mission seem intact. His father has just died at the start of this story.

In the back of the book are eight pages of character bios by Azzarello that are illustrated by the regular series artist Rags Morales that introduce of some of the other characters in the "First Wave" universe. Doc's Crew gets a full page. Their characters are described and I can only assume that their professions remain intact.

Only Long Tom is described by his profession - a master of electricity. Monk is assigned a bully role and isn't opposed to using lethal force. Monk and Ham retain their good natured arguing and status as best friends.

The Avenger and The Spirit share the next page. Richard Benson is described as a master of disguise and a man blinded by the tragedy of his family's slaughter.

The Spirit will appear as well as Ebony White who will be a "brash girl" in this series.

Black Canary is another New Yorker in this universe, and she is so enamored of Doc Savage that she goes out at night and fights crime.

Rima the Jungle Girl is a South American that is a mysterious "catalyst that drags the real main characters along to their inevitable fates." She may not be real...

The Blackhawks are the second generation, the originals have all either retired, or were killed in the war. They are ethnically diverse and are the best pilots from all over the world.

Finally, there are the villains of this world. They will be "diverse and come from different angles." "There should be major conflict between the crime factions." There are three main factions: The Syndicate, The Golden Tree, and No School.

Anton Colossi, Greek shipping magnate and war profiteer will be one of the main villains. He has a robot bodyguard and lives on the coast of Hidalgo in South America.

John Sunlight will also have some part in these stories.

All in all, I had feared that the changes to the classic characters may have been too much, but Doc Savage certainly is treated respectfully here, and I will buy the new books as they come out to see how the others fare.

Hopefully there will be more story and more adventure in the regular First Wave comics.


Ken Horowitz said...

Too bad this didn't work better. Back in the 1970s, DC did a couple of crossover comics featuring Batman and the Shadow; I recall enjoying them quite a lot. Maybe Doc just isn't the right character to team with Batman?

Pete Miller said...

Actually, it wasn't the dynamics between the characters that was the problem, it was that nothing happened. Too many quiet moments, no adventure, and very little action.

I think that Batman and Doc Savage are set up as the 2 sides of heroism for this universe.

Hopefully the 6-issue miniseries wil be better.