Friday, June 21, 2013

Pulp of the Week - Doc Savage: Skull Island

Doc Savage: Skull Island
by Will Murray
Based on a concept by cover artist Joe DeVito

The new Doc Savage novel by Will Murray contains a record number of authorized firsts for the character. Murray digs deep into the Savage family history, Doc's relationships with his father and grandfather, and Doc's personal journey toward becoming the man we know.

This book starts in 1933 New York - most likely just a few months after the events of "The Man of Bronze" and "Land of Terror," but the story soon spins into an extended flashback to over a decade earlier as Doc tells his five friends of the tale when he and his father went on a quest to find Doc's grandfather, Stormalong Savage.

Stormalong is a sailing captain of the old school and his ship has vanished in the vast South Indian Ocean. Doc's father is a sailor as well and summons Doc to join him on the Orion, the very ship he was born on. Captain Clark Savage, Sr. is a stern man with a crew of Mayans that make the trip in search of Stormalong's ship, the Courser.

The journey to Skull Mountain Island involves much adventure as well as sailing for many uneventful days. Doc spends his time tinkering in the small machine shop, learning Mayan from the crew, and getting on his father's nerves. In the shop he is adapting a service automatic to fire full auto.

Deluxe Hardcover wrap around jacket
Soon enough Doc arrives at Skull Island and clashes with island natives, dinosaurs, and other denizens of the island, all leading up to Kong. While there is quite a bit of plot about a band of headhunters stalking Kong, we all know that they won't get him because Kong is in New York at the start of the book. Thus, the suspense with Kong's life is lessened.

There is also a smaller, white ape (like the one in Son of Kong) whose presence is not explained and in fact is a bit confusing considering its fate.

Stormalong is a wonderful character and I wouldn't mind reading a Murray novel or two featuring him. He's crotchety and set in his ways and fun. Clark, Sr. is a bit of a stick in the mud and Clark, Jr. (Doc) questions him about sending a child (Doc himself) off to live with professors and scientists instead of taking care of the young boy himself.

It is this material, the family stuff that is the heart and reason for this story. Dinosaurs, headhunters, the voyage, and Kong himself are secondary, but fun, parts of the book.

Will Murray has done a fine job with this book and I commend him for expanding the canon. The cover by Joe De Vito is terrific as is the presentation as a whole. I'll give Doc Savage: Skull Island an 8.5 out of 10. 

There has been a lot of fan interest in this match up for a long time. There is a lot of material at Rip Dagger's Dojo blog. Doc Savage cover mashup expert Kez Wilson did a great one on his blog, mashing up two James Bama paintings.

And more art...

Next up - Doc Savage meets Tarzan? Doc and The Shadow? Doc and the Avenger?

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