Monday, December 9, 2013
"A mystery for another time, Ham. I believe that is the trouble you told me about."
In 1933, Henry W. Ralston and John L. Nanovic created the character of Doc Savage. He was a man of many talents, including physician, surgeon, scientist, adventurer, inventor, explorer, researcher and musician. All of that makes him the man that many seek when trouble is afoot, something that makes an appearance in Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze #1. The first issue is written by Chris Roberson, illustrated by Bilquis Evely, colored by Daniela Miwa and lettered by Rob Steen.
It's 1933 and Doc Savage is sharing some pleasant conversation with some of his closest peers, including the likes Albert Einstein. That's an example of the company he keeps, speaking volumes to his ability as a jetsetting man of the world. Trouble is that even as he's trying to take it easy so to speak, he's still called upon to solve a puzzling mystery as to why people are losing control in the streets at random points in the day. After a few mysterious outbreaks, Doc Savage works to get to the bottom of the flash mob riots, relying entirely on his intelligence and know-how to find a solution.
Roberson's tasked with a rather tall order in revisiting a character with a storied history and the first issue of Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze #1 does effectively relay Doc Savage's character and mannerisms. The problem with the issue lies mainly in the stop-start nature of the tale. As Doc Savage is tracking down the person behind the madness breakouts, he goes back to the lab quite a few times. In fact, the entire issue is outbreak, lab work, outbreak, lab work, etc. Again, it fits in with the Doc's methods of operation, but it makes it very difficult for the story to get into any kind of flow. What's more is that the reader is given a look at all of the supporting cast at once and then they seem to take center-stage for the duration of the issue. This basically sacrifices attention paid to the title character for attention to role-players who don't really seem to play a big role in the end.
Evely's art is interesting, in that Evely clearly paid a lot of attention to detail when it comes to filling the scenes with tons of action and information. Some of the characters strongly resemble one another though, which hurts the movement of the issue's narrative. The effect when the strange lights appear in the sky offers a prism-like look at all of the action, helping to bring the reader into the world more fully. There are some really strong panels where all the characters are chipping in to help save the city and those panels largely stick to a relatively formal grid. The art works well alongside Roberson's story, providing a very nice package that really tries to get the point across that Doc Savage is a man of the world.
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze #1 is a very ambitious modern take on a classic character. Unfortunately, the story is a little erratic and doesn't really have a solid flow. Evely's art is good and evidences a great amount of focused work, yet it still feels like it's lacking a little something. The combination of the two offers a good blend, but the story sort of feels boring and repetitive. It almost feels as if the issue spent more time making sure new readers knew who Doc Savage and his cast were as opposed to presenting them in a story that was more indicative of the adventures they typically undertake. The second issue could take things up a notch and offer a bit more excitement considering this is Doc Savage we're talking about.
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze #1 is in stores December 11 with interiors below.