Doc Savage #7
Writers - Ivan Brandon & Brian Azzarello, Jason Starr
Artists - Nic Klein, Scott Hampton
Publisher - DC Comics
I hadn’t read this series since the first issue, when it was under a different creative team. It was boring and confusing then. Now, it’s not boring, though still a bit confusing. I can cut it some slack, though, dropping in the middle like this, but one would think there would have been some way to let readers know who Doc Savage and his team are beyond their nicknames. I get that Savage has bronze-ish skin and he’s got money, but beyond that I couldn’t tell you what he’s about. For some reason I remember Ron Ely played him in some TV movies, and his old paperback novels had great covers by James Bama, but neither of those facts help me here.
Brandon, working from a plot or series bible by Azzarello, drops Savage & Co into “The Middle East,” where some warlord and his men are going to kill them. Savage and his men take out a few, then they surrender. Then they try to escape, taking out some more, and then they surrender again. Then Savage escapes again, finding an Apocalypse Now-style encampment where drugged-looking followers speak of an angry god. It looks like Brandon is going to serve up a former comrade of Savage’s team, from their military days, as a kind of Col. Kurtz, but we’ll see. There wasn’t much of consequence here, but Klein makes it look good, in a gritty, controlled kind of Sienkiewicz/Bingham style that works well for soldiers and harsh environments.
The backup story is “Justice, Inc.,” by Starr and Hampton, and it’s a treat, basically a carefully planned hit of a rising mobster by a Justice, Inc. loose cannon that goes awry. I was pleasantly surprised it didn’t end there with a perfect execution. It’s nice when the protagonist screws up and things get more complicated, and Hampton’s art, while at first a little odd in its soft colors for a crime story, ends up working really well. It’s going to be a shame in January when the backup stories go away. I can imagine a fair amount of folks on the fence getting off when they’re no longer getting even a small dose of Hampton, Kyle Baker, Harlan Ellison and the other talents who’ve graced the back pages of these First Wave books.
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