Monday, June 27, 2022

Doc Savage - The Earth-Wreckers!

I continue with my reviews of the Doc Savage Black and White magazine from the 70's. Doc Savage #5 sports another lush Ken Barr cover. The inside front cover features a Neal Adams drawing of the Man of Bronze alongside Doc's oath. 

The story is titled "The Earth-Wreckers!" and it's written by Doug Moench and illustrated by Tony DeZuniga. The story begins in Australia on June 12, 1933. A mysterious plane approaches a distant outpost, crashes but the pilot escapes and attacks the location manned by thugs. The attacker is revealed to be Doc himself and he's careful to break open a safe and the contents cause him to trill. Next, we're taken to Antartica two days later and Doc again attacks a cabin full of thugs to retrieve something hidden under the floor. Cut to Africa the next day and again we follow Doc as he attacks a distant gang of thugs to find a mysterious something. Two days later the same in Eurasia. The next day in Manhattan we meet Doc's aides assembled in the headquarters curious about some large crates sent their to Doc but addressed in Doc's handwriting. They open one up and find a weird mechanical device shaped like Australia. Next we meet the meek Hiram Meeker on his way to locate Pat Savage as a means to meet Doc himself. After telling her his tale, she agrees to take him. Meanwhile in South America Doc again attacks some thugs to get yet another crate. At the headquarters Doc's men have assembled the pieces from the crates have created a bizarre over-sized globe of the world surrounding bizarre mechanical and electrical workings. 

We cut to North America and Doc again attacks to get hold of some mysterious object. We go to the headquarters and at last Doc arrives with his latest find and his mildly miffed to see his aides have already broken out the crates. He adds his new piece, but Monk accidently activates the devices and the burn out the electrical equipment around them. Pat then shows up with Hiram who claims to know more about the weird equipment, and we learn of a mysterious leader called "Iron Mask" and his scheme to blackmail the world or blow it up using the peculiar devices Doc has been collecting. Cut to a hidden scientific base and we meet Iron Mask, a strange armored criminal who threatens the life of Hiram who has left his organization. Pat wants to go with Doc, he refuses and she grabs Hiram and leaves, but almost immediately the come under attack. She drives to avoid the attackers ultimately causing them to crash. Next we follow Doc and his men as they use the flea run to get to the Amberjack in the Hidalgo Trading Company, but find Pat and Hiram there. Doc reluctantly allows them to come as the team heads to Scotland, specifically Inverness. Once there they become familiar with the legend of Loch Ness and the Monster, which Monk promptly sees. The equip themselves with underwater gear and head into the Loch and all of them see the giant creature, appearing to be a plesiosaur. The surface in an underground secret base and battle erupts against Iron Mask's men. After much battle the creature is revealed to be a disguised submarine. Doc press the attack, defeat the criminals and Iron Mask revealed to be a man with a ruined face attempts to escape in a small boat only to encounter the real Nessy who destroys his small craft. The team triumphant head back to New York. 

Also in this issue is a wonderfully compact yet detailed overview of Doc's pulp history by Bob Sampson. There's also a small interview with Norma Dent, the wife of Lester Dent. Both of these articles are decorated with stills from the George Pal movie. This issue's lead story really started with a bang, creating a real mystery as to why Doc was rounding the world looking for things and beating up people. The payoff was pretty good, but the Loch Ness sections seemed a bit rushed. But often I find the pulps have the same feel. Pat is really gorgeous and exotic in this issue. We see Chemistry this time too, but he's a little monkey. 
 More next time. 

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  1. I haven't seen that Neal Adams page before, it's very nice. It would have been good to see Mr Adams version of Doc Savage even just a few pages of story. This story seems interesting ( I do like my Lake/Loch monsters). A very nice opening page by De Zuniga as well .

    1. Adams would've been a great choice, his realism would've added much to Doc's adventures. I'm a big DeZuniga fan but after a strong start on this story things get shaky unfortunately. It looked like a rush or perhaps too much story for too few pages leading to crushingly small panels.