Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pulp of the Week - Doc Savage #17

The Thousand-Headed Man - July 1934

This rousing and interesting Lester Dent penned tale takes Doc and Co. to the jungles of Indo-China. The story picks up in Europe after the events of  The King Maker, with Doc arriving in London by plane. His arrival attracts photographers and autograph hounds. This is the kind of scene with Doc that we really haven't seen before. He is trying to dodge the fans and reporters. A man accosts Doc at the airport and throws a package at the Man of Bronze. Well, it seems that everyone wants the package, or at least its contents – three innocuous black rectangles the size of a cigarette pack that are said to be keys. Keys to reaching the ancient city of the Thousand-Headed Man.

Doc is framed for murder and uses an inflatable head and shoulders of himself to escape from a particularly tight spot (neat trick). He also has a secret code name with Scotland Yard - SX73182 - that gets telephone assistance without questions.

Doc and crew head to the jungle and encounter some of the most interesting scenery and ruins to date in a Savage novel. The first of these is a temple made entirely of carved hands. The others are equally interesting. The atmosphere and action are particularly good in this novel. The thrills and challenges are top notch. And, of course, there is a beautiful girl in the thick of the action.

I give The Thousand-Headed Man an 8.5 out of 10. The pulp cover is by Walter Baumhofer and the iconic Bantam #2 paperback cover is by James Bama. A portion of Bama's painting was also used for issue #1 of the Gold Key Comic. The pulp interior art is by Paul Orban.

Again, it is due to the efforts of Chris Kalb that the interior illustrations are able to be included in this review. His great site is worth a visit.

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