Thursday, June 23, 2022

Doc Savage - The Inferno Scheme!

I continue with my review of Marvel's B&W Doc Savage magazine from the mid 70's. The third issue of Marvel's B&W Doc Savage magazine sports a fantastic cover image by Ken Barr of Doc atop jet-powered skis, the green background here is wild. Love this cover. The inside front cover has a bit of text on Doc around a pretty nice poster shot by Rich Buckler. This issue has a letters page called "Mail of Bronze" that includes among other things a notice about Steranko's "Doc Savage Brotherhood of Bronze" an "authorized" Doc organization. I wish I'd joined. 

The first story is titled "The Inferno Scheme" and it's written by Doug Moench and illustrated by John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga. It begins quietly enough with a flying shadow crashing into a jewelry store and stealing several gems. The thief is a robotic eagle remotely operated. Cut to the next day and a museum exhibit for the Stavros Diamond. A woman shows up to warn the police the exhibit must be closed, but then a robot bear appears to rob the gem. Renny has been close by in disguise and he engages the bear in a fight, which unsurprisingly he loses. The bear is later hoisted into the air by a autogyro-type aircraft and escapes with the diamond. Renny then meets the woman named Contessa De Chabrol who tells him of her brother, a man who calls himself Inferno and is the mastermind behind the robotic thieves. It seems he wants the diamonds for research he's doing trying to focus light. Doc is consulted and he and his team (minus Monk) hear out the Contessa's story. There's a small mystery about Ham's trousers which are torn on the bottom, but that's for the other story. 

Doc sends Renny with the Contessa to infiltrate Inferno's hideout and promises to come himself with the team in eighteen hours. The Contessa tells of her rise from rags to riches and her plan to return to rags and she and Renny share a romantic moment. Renny sets out to infiltrate the mountaintop hideout but is discovered quickly and captured. He escapes, runs through the mountain mansion and then encounters Inferno who has captured the Contessa and will kill his sister if Renny doesn't assist him in making some adjustments to his light-ray weapon. Renny agrees reluctantly. Doc and his team follow up on schedule, meanwhile Renny has uses the ray cannon to escape but brought up short when he discovers Inferno and the Contessa kissing, clearly not brother and sister. He's been deceived and he's both ashamed and furious. Doc and and his team meanwhile launch an attack on the stronghold. Much battle ensues, during which Doc uses jet-powered skis. Eventually to save Renny from a sulphur pit Doc descends into the caves beneath the fortress where he must engage and defeat many of the mechanoids (eagle, bear, gargoyle, lion, griffin, and spiked man thing). He and Renny compare notes, Renny informs Doc he's sabotaged the ray cannon and the next use will cause it to explode. They leave the stronghold while the Contesa uses the cannon. Renny tries to stop her, but she continues to try and kill them eventually blowing herself and the entire installation up. Renny weeps.

The second story features Monk, who was missing from the lead feature. It's titled "A Most Singular Writ of Habeus Corpus" and is written by Moench and illustrated by Rico Rival. The story begins with Monk and Ham engaging in a swordfight. Monk has hidden Ham's suit which is revealed ultimately to have been used as a nest for Monk's pig Habeus Corpus. Ham is furious but retrieves his suit, but not before Monk's secretary Marla ushers in a woman named Veronica Curtis. Ham goes to get dressed while Veronica tells Monk she liked for him to come and assist her brother who needs some research work done. While Monk smears some chemicals on Habeus Ham returns and Habeus immediately chews up his trousers (explaining the small mystery from the first story). Monk and Curtis leave to find that her brother Frank Curtis who Monk immediately recognizes as the gangster "Masher Miller", a murderer and ganglord. Veronica thought he hid his identity for other reasons. Monk and Veronica are captured and put in a backroom. Miller wants Monk to create a potion that will render his rivals booze non-alcoholic, but Monk claims this is impossible. Habeus shows up and using the chemical he'd smeared on his back earlier, Monk creates an explosive they use to escape. Some fisticuffs later the duo escape the waterfront hideout just as the explosive gets loose and the whole shebang explodes. Doc and Veronica and Habeus walk off into the mist leaving the clean up to the cops. And that's that. 

More next time. 

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