Dy­na­mite ROUND- UP

Can li­censes make for good comics? You betcha!

Comic Heroes - - Front Page - Bilquis Evely Chris Rober­son

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.

Pulp hero Doc Sav­age: Tarzan meets Sher­lock Holmes. The scram­ble for the cash tills got nasty.

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