Monday, August 20, 2007

Hell-Reapers At the Heart of Paradise

I did read a kickass comic the other night. In addition to a regular-sized color DOC SAVAGE comic book, during the 1970s, Marvel also put out a magazine-sized black-and-white DOC SAVAGE book. Both lasted only a few issues, but there were some pretty good stories in them, particularly the 76-page b&w book, which was able to facilitate longer stories with more adventure and depth. Strangely, even though I have a few of them and I have known a few people who read them, I have never read a Doc Savage paperback. Only some of the Marvel comic stories. Obviously, this is a situation I need to rectify in the near future.

DOC SAVAGE #2, published in 1975, the same year the world's only Doc Savage film, DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE, was released, is great fun. In the feature-length adventure "Hell-Reapers At the Heart of Paradise," written by the imaginative Doug Moench and drawn by the talented Tony DeZuniga, Doc and his five assistants look into a case in which survivors of an Arctic shipwreck five years earlier are being kidnapped by a crazed Viking! Their chase leads them to a mysterious underground world inhabited by scary-looking though friendly lizard-men who guard a 500-year-old sunken treasure. All of Doc's assistants receive a brief moment in the spotlight, but it's the Man of Bronze who saves the day with his amazing gadgets, razor-sharp mind, and, of course, his two fists. It's really a fun story, and I'm looking forward to reading issues #3, 4 and 7.

Following the story is a lengthy interview with Ron Ely, the handsome and athletic actor well-known for portraying Tarzan in the fine 1960s TV series, who was then starring in the big-screen DOC SAVAGE film. The movie, sadly, is not very good, but Ely doesn't seem to know it, and gets excited at the prospect of a whole run of Doc Savage movies. It's a nice interview in which Ely comes off as surprisingly thoughtful for an actor known for action roles.

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