Dynamite ROUND- UP
Can licenses make for good comics? You betcha!
Doc Savage one-man Fantastic Four, brains and brawn in a single body, a bronzeskinned almost-superman living very publicly in a NY skyscraper. Savage has no superpowers as such, but was extensively trained from birth by world-class experts in the sciences, the martial arts and more.
Set very early in Clark Savage Jr’s career, the Dynamite version heaves with references to the original stories and gives the impression, at least, of depicting a believable ’30s Manhattan. Bilquis Evely’s art is clean and wellpaced, and if it doesn’t have quite the moodiness or mythic power of the ’70s Marvel run featuring the character, it’s an undeniably handsome book.
Writer Chris Roberson – best known for iZombie at Vertigo – is, meanwhile, clearly a huge fan, and he’s written Doc Savage types before: Campion in iZombie, Gladiator Gladstone in Edison Rex, and assorted folk in his Bonaventure-Carmody novels. Here he’s kicking off his Doc Savage tales in their original ’30s milieu, but he plans to slowly bring him into the present day, establishing that while
Doc Savage heaves with references to the original
Doc ages extremely slowly – he looks 20-something when we first meet him, and perhaps in his mid-forties for the modern day stuff – his famous assistants, the Fabulous Five, do not, and so will need replacing as the decades wear on. It’s an impressive debut, and, crucially, promises yet better tales to come.
Ash And The Army Of Darkness is somewhat less successful, the dark, sparse, occasionally very striking art reminiscent of a less polished Jae Lee. There’s little to the plot so far, beyond endless predictable fighting interspersed with equally expected quips – yes, it does seem a little churlish complaining about this in an Ash comic – and only Sheila, a female Arthurian knight, manages to keep the interest levels up.
In effect, this is a continuation of the long-moribund Evil Dead series of films, kicking off where the last one – Army Of Darkness, in which a typically hapless Ash got zapped back to 1300 AD – left off. That adventure had ended with Ash returned to the present day, a lowly worker at an S-Max store faced, in the final scene, with a female customer possessed by a demon, and the comic reprises that moment then runs with it. Soon Ash is whisked back to the fantasy medieval period, with all its visual potential and fish-out-ofwater, Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court vibe. All the right beats are hit here – the actor-accurate faces particularly – but, without the energy of the films, our tale seems pretty thin.
Ash himself remains a likable hero – this tragic guy who’s lost everything and never gets a break, yet is at the same time a potent, determined, and remarkably cheery demon killer – and he deserves better.