Doc Savage #13-#15

November 18th, 2008 | by Sqotty |

I now have twelve of the Nostalgia Ventures Doc Savage reprints, and have read three of them. That means nine more to go, which is a fair amount of reading. I am going to gloss over all three of the ones I have read in this review. They are #13-15, which encompasses The Man of Bronze, the first doc Savage adventure, and The Red Spider, the last one to see print of the Lester Dent penned novels.

Where The Man of Bronze set the original tone of the adventure series, and set the basic pattern of the adventures that followed; The Red Spider, Return From Cormoral, and Terror Wears No shoes are later writings and are distinctly different in style from the pre-WW2 adventures. These are the adventures in #14 and #15.

The books also contain background information on Lester Dent, the editors and the development of the series, making the Doc Savage experience richer for their inclusion.

Most Doc Savage fans are familiar with The Man of Bronze. It is the one that has seen the most printings over the years.

The Land of Terror, which is the second Doc adventure, is distinctly more violent, with the body count averaging better than one every chapter. Doc kills five villains with his bare hands before the end of chapter five. I recall reading somewhere that because of this one novel it was requested to tone down the violence, which paved the way for the development of Doc’s famed mercy bullets and anesthetic gas. And yes, this one contains dinosaurs, and lots of them.

Terror Wears No Shoes and The Red Spider are both Cold War stories, with Doc, Ham, Monk, Long Tom, and, in The Red Spider, Renny, involved in espionage. Both are tautly written with a high level of suspense. Terror Wears No Shoes is probably takes the most twists and turns of these books with Doc, Monk and Ham attempting to locate Long Tom, who has gone missing and is possibly dead.

Return From Cormoral is detective novel, and fits well with the later Doc Savage books. It revolves around a mystery of a man who seems to be empowered by the ability to foretell certain future events, and the mystery that brings. It follows the same styling as the Cold War stories, all of which are distinctly different in tone and flavor of the earlier adventures.

One of those significant differences is the lack of references to Doc’s bronze, metallic like form, and cabled sinews, taking on a more mature style of storytelling. This is not to say that Doc still doesn’t have a great physique, only that the constant references are gone. Doc is also more fallible than in the earlier stories, creating a more realistic character, making him more human.

The other volume contains the first two adventures with Patricia Savage, doc’s cousin. Those are Brand of the Werewolf and Fear Cay.

Brand of the Werewolf is a distinctly suspenseful adventure with the major plot element revolving around a loss treasure galleon that is buried somewhere on the coast of British Columbia, and a mysterious ivory cube that can unlock the secret to its whereabouts. No, there are no werewolves, real or fake, in this story.

Fear Cay is one of the weirder ones as it involves a 131 year old man and a belief in the Fountain of Youth. All of the plot elements tie together nicely to create a plausible explanation for all of the strange plot elements.

Overall, the Nostalgia Venture reprints are a great way to discover or renew interest in this pulp-era classic series.

As a little plug-ola, I recently started a Doc Savage wiki on wikia.com. It’s taking shape with about 40 articles now. It is developing into a serious endeavor to serve as a Doc Savage encyclopedia, hopefully without too many spoilers. It is an open project and any one interested in Doc Savage are encouraged to participate in the project.

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