Doc Savage is one of the most important characters in the history of genre fiction. A man raised from birth – by a group of scientists led by his father – to attain the pinnacle of human potential; Clark Savage is a direct ancestor of Superman, Batman, Cap and Bond. However, much like his contemporaries The Shadow and Fu Manchu, Doc Savage is inextricably linked to a time and place ever more distant and strange to modern audiences. Man of Bronze: Doc Savage puts this pulp-era character in a modern setting to mixed effect.
Taking elements of the Doc Savage mythos (his base atop the Empire State building, his group of science buddies) and extrapolating them to fit in a modern context, it’s strange seeing The Man of Bronze in a contemporary setting. In fact, it doesn’t really work. The Doc is now a global presence, his team of five friends has grown into a huge network of people and adventures of exploration and intrigue have become missions to save the world. Instead of being an Indiana Jones style adventure, this is reminiscent of Thunderbirds or Warren Ellis’ Global Frequency as several different teams work together to avert a disaster in a race against time.
The artwork is highly detailed, well staged and easy on the eye. There are some arresting images of action and scenes in space have an admirable level of confidence. It lacks some of the pulp classicism associated with Doc Savage (there are no hero shots of Doc in a ripped khaki shirt for example) but does a better job of updating The Man of Bronze for a modern setting than the writing manages.
It’s a shame that they’ve deviated from the character’s pulpy roots because there could be some fantastic “lost” stories that creators could tell, giving a modern spin on an old character. Mike Mignola’s work on titles like Lobster Johnson and Sledgehammer (as well as more obviously Savage inspired characters like Alan Moore’s Tom Strong and Warren Ellis’ Axel Brass) offer something more in tune with characters like this. It’s less the Man of Bronze and more Man of Copper I’m afraid.
The writer of this piece was: Joe Morrison
Joe is Freelance film journalist based in Glasgow.
You can also find Joe on Twitter.