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Advanced Review: Doc Savage #1

Doc Savage as a character has had many “starts” in modern day comics, but the prince of pulp has a most unusual adventure here that spells mystery and entertainment in days to come.

Chris Roberson, who admits he loves the character and has been waiting for an opportunity to write the Doc, hops into this mag with an enthusiasm seldom seen in comics these days. Everything is fresh feeling yet familiar, if that makes sense. Read Dynamite’s Doc Savage #1 and you will know what I mean.

To the uninitiated, Doc was raised from the crib to be the pinnacle of mental and physical human perfection, and travels the world using science and his muscles to right wrongs and liberate the innocent. With his team of able associates, the Fabulous Five, at their headquarters atop the tallest building in the world, the Doc tirelessly pursues justice.

In this title, we first meet Doc and his crew in 1933, not long after the debut of Doc Savage Magazine. Things are up, and although Doc and his Fab Five are on the case there is something missing, something they do not know.

This story will gradually move forward through the decades, Roberson promises, in a series of stand-alone adventures that build to a larger tapestry. But as far as #1 is concerned, the writer is planting seeds for the current scenario.

The wonderfully throwback art of Bilquis Evely follows Doc and his associates through the mystery of #1, which comes to a very powerful and shocking conclusion. I know I will be back for issue #2. Also fine is the color palette of Daniela Miwa, who does it right with colors of the day: brights where needed, dark noir when called for. A great mixture, as is Doc Savage himself.

Looks like the Doc is in!

“Doc Savage” #1 hits stores next Wednesday, December 11th!

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Exclusive: Chris Roberson Talks Doc Savage Ongoing From Dynamite

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Doc Savage has been popping in and out of modern comics for decades, but a new take on the Man of Bronze will be coming to Dynamite Entertainment in December from the creative team of writer Chris Roberson and artist Bilquis Evely.

To get the 411 behind this ongoing of the top pulp hero, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer spoke exclusively with the scribe about his innate love of the character and his ideas for this latest incarnation of Savage.

Cosmic Book News: So how does it feel to be handling THE character who put the pop in “pulp”?

Chris Roberson: It feels pretty amazing, I must admit! I’ve been an enormous fan of the character for more than thirty years, and I’ve always harbored hopes of getting a chance to write a Doc Savage adventure. And now I am!

CBN: How did this marriage of Roberson and Savage come about?

Chris Roberson: I’ve dropped subtle (and not to subtle) hints that Doc Savage was my favorite pulp character since I first started talking with Dynamite a few years ago. They didn’t hold the license at the time, but I thought maybe we could do something with a “Doc Savage type” character, either one from the public domain, or an existing character, or one cut from whole cloth. When I learned last year that the license was up for grabs, though, I immediately contacted Dynamite and told them that if they were to get their hands on Doc, I wanted to write the series. And then I mentioned it again the next time we spoke, a little more emphatically. And then again, and again. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m half-convinced that they gave me the job just to shut me up!

CBN: We have seen Doc in all eras. Where will we be seeing him in this new ongoing?

Chris Roberson: We first meet Doc and his crew in the first issue in 1933, not long after the debut of Doc Savage Magazine. From there, we move gradually forward through the decades, in a series of standalone adventures that gradually build into a larger tapestry. The conceit is that just because the original magazine stopped appearing in 1949, that doesn’t mean that Doc’s adventures ended. And now we’re going to see what he got up to in the years that followed.

CBN: Any details of the first arc we can pump out of you?

Chris Roberson: Well, we’ll have Doc Savage and the fabulous five, of course, as well as Patricia Savage. There will be death rays and rocketpacks and mercy bullets and Helldivers and explosions and superscience and evil geniuses and on and on and on…

CBN: And the introductory big bad is …?

Chris Roberson: That would be telling!

CBN: Where does a writer look to for inspiration for a character like Doc? The pulps? Past adaptations? Your own concepts?

Chris Roberson: Well, the principle inspiration is the original Doc Savage adventures written by Lester Dent, of course! That’s what made me fall in love with the character to begin with. 

CBN: Speaking of past adaptations, any Doc stories of the past favorites of your own?

Chris Roberson: My favorite is probably still MANOF BRONZE, the first Doc Savage adventure that Lester Dent wrote. And I must confess that I have a soft spot in my heart for the George Pal film, flawed as it is.[[wysiwyg_imageupload:11826:]]

CBN: What have been your greatest challenges in writing a character like Doc?

Chris Roberson: When you’re writing a story about a super-genius hero, it’s always a challenge coming up with tricky problems for them to solve. He can’t simply punch his way out of every situation, but needs to THINK his way to a solution, as well.

CBN: What does Bilquis Evely bring to the table? Why is this artist right for this enduring hero?

Chris Roberson: I wasn’t aware of Bilquis’s work before, but as soon as I saw the character designs and sample pages she’d done for this series, I knew she was perfect for the job. She does such a fantastic job of capturing the period feel, and her figures are so expressive. What I’ve seen of the first issue so far looks amazing!

CBN: Any current or future projects you would like to discuss?

Chris Roberson: Well, I’m still writing The Shadow and Codename: Action for the good people at Dynamite. Dennis Culver and I continue to produce our digital series Edison Rex through my Monkeybrain imprint (which would likely be of interest to any Doc Savage fan). And it’s just been announced that I’ll be scripting a new Aliens series at Dark Horse, with art by Patric Reynolds. I like to keep busy!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Chris Roberson for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

“Doc Savage” #1 hits in December!

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Exclusive: Chris Roberson takes Captain Action out of the toy box, ready for action in new mini-series

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Remember those great Captain Action figures of the mid-1960s? Along with G.I. Joe, these figures of a hero who solved crimes by taking on the identities of other heroes – everyone from Superman and Batman to Steve Canyon and the Lone Ranger – were the greatest toys I ever had.

Fast-forward to the 21st Century as Dynamite Entertainment, in conjunction with Captain Action Enterprises, announces the coming of a six-issue comic book event, Codename: Action, that unites the hero Captain Action with classic pulp heroes (Green Hornet, Kato, Black Venus) by writer Chris Roberson (Masks, Superman) and Jonathan Lau (Green Hornet).

Not to be outdone, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer jumped on this one out of the gate and is exclusively riding it home, so to speak, with this filed interview with the comic book’s scribe.

Cosmic Book News: Chris, Captain Action was my favorite toy during the 1960s. How if in any way does your Captain differ from the jet-age swashbuckler?

Chris Roberson: One of the things I find fascinating about the toys of the sixties and seventies is that they were, by and large, characters without stories. Kids would be presented with an action figure, whether it be Captain Action, or GI Joe, or Big Jim, and given just the barest of details about them. Who they were, maybe, and what they did. But it was up to the kids to fill in the blanks, and make up their own stories. It was a nascent form of role playing, I’d argue. So what we’ve done with Codename: Action is go back to the original character briefs that were provided with the Captain Action toys, and used that as a framework to build our story. Not a million miles from the kinds of things I did when I was a kid playing with my own action figures!

CBN: Tell us about the mission of Captain Action in this six-issue series.

Chris Roberson: The man who will one day be known as Captain Action is introduced to us as “Operative 1001,” a secret agent working for a clandestine U.S. intelligence agency. He and a veteran agent, Operator 5, are tasked with discovering who has been secretly replacing world leaders with identical doppelgangers, apparently with the intent of fomenting a new world war. 

CBN: I know there have been attempts before, but will you try to establish a definitive origin for him?

Chris Roberson: Yes, this mini-series is intended to serve as an origin story of sorts for Captain Action, while also being a standalone adventure in its own right. 

CBN: Does this iteration of the Captain have any powers? Will he himself be masquerading as heroes as in the old days?

Chris Roberson: He won’t have powers, as such, but don’t be surprised to see him donning a few disguises along the way. 

CBN: Speaking of masked heroes, how will Cap become involved with those period heroes like Green Hornet, Kato, etc.? To what end?

Chris Roberson: The focus of this story is on the spy characters like Operator 5, Operative 1001, and Black Venus, but as the events unfold other characters will be drawn into the action. To say too much more than that would spoil things! 

CBN: If Cap is in the age of his creation, will we see any Cold War hijinks behind the Iron Curtain?

Chris Roberson: Just maybe! 

CBN: In all this adventure, will we catch a glimpse of Action Boy or Doctor Evil?

Chris Roberson: Reply hazy, ask again later! 

CBN: Wow, Chris! Magic 8-Ball is even older than Captain Action! (laughs) Now … Do you have any past experiences with Captain Action the toy or the comic book hero?

Chris Roberson: I was a little too young to enjoy the toy the first time around, but I was introduced to him by an article in an early issue of Amazing Heroes, and went hunting for back issues of the Gil Kane comic. Because, really, you can’t beat Gil Kane. Now, all these years later, and thanks to the generosity of Ed Catto, I finally have Captain Action and Doctor Evil figures on my shelf!

CBN: Doctor Evil?? We may have to talk about figure trading later … So, what does Jonathan Lau bring to this “event”?

Chris Roberson: I’ve only seen a handful of Jonathan’s pages so far, but they look fantastic! 

CBN: Chris, any projects current or future you’d like to discuss?

Chris Roberson: The first collection of Edison Rex, the digital first series that Dennis Culver and I are doing through Monkeybrain Comics, will be in stores soon in a trade paperback printed by IDW. And not too long after that the first two issues of The Mysterious Strangers, the Oni series that I’m doing with Scott Kowalchuk, will be in shops. (And the first issue is currently free for download on comiXology!) Other than that, I’m hard at work on The Shadow for Dynamite, as well as another project that hasn’t yet been announced that I am INCREDIBLY excited about!

Cosmic Book News wishes to thank Chris Roberson for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our nosy M.E. In addition, CBN also wishes to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

“Captain Action” #1 (of 6) hits shelves in September!

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Exclusive interview: Chris Roberson parts the darkening mists to discuss the world of the Shadow!

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The Shadow has been a menacing figure to evildoers for more years than most of us have been alive. But the current batch of comic book readers are learning about the night avenger from Dynamite Entertainment’s revival of the former radio show and pulp comic anti-hero.

Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer recently cornered the very busy writer of the series, Chris Roberson, and exclusively discussed the character of the Shadow, his world and the current Light arc underway in the book.

Cosmic Book News: Many fans were very impressed with your handling of the cast of Masks. How do you compare that title with your current work on The Shadow?

Chris Roberson: It’s a completely different experience, actually. I had a lot of fun working on Masks, but that was a story that had the Shadow IN it, not a SHADOW story, if that makes sense. With such a large cast in Masks, we weren’t able to see much of the Shadow’s supporting cast or to explore the world he inhabits, but in The Shadow ongoing comic there’s a lot more room to breathe, and to bring in all of those elements that made the original Shadow pulps and radio shows great.

CBN: You and a lot of other comic book writers seem to enjoy working with the pulp characters. What makes them such a treasure trove of stories for today’s comics market?

Chris Roberson: I think it’s because the pulps were the source of so much that I love in popular culture. Superheroes have their roots in the hero pulps, to be sure, but so much of modern science fiction is rooted in the “space opera” pulps, just as so much modern horror grows out of things like Weird Tales. In the pulps, we see all of these different genres coming into focus, as it were. And that’s especially true of the masked avengers and science heroes, which gave rise to everything from Batman and Superman to Indiana Jones and James Bond.

CBN: For the new reader who may be seeing this, tell us about the Shadow and his world.

Chris Roberson: The Shadow is a “weird avenger of the night,” and much about him remains a mystery even to those who are closest to him. He maintains a wide network of agents and assets that help him in his crusade against evil. And with his slouch hat, scarf, and twin .45s, he has a striking look that remains timeless, decades and decades after he first appeared.

CBN: A while ago, in the story teaming Green Hornet, Kato, the Spider and others, you said you really enjoyed scripting the Shadow’s dialogue. What is it about the Shadow that makes him different from other noir comic characters?

Chris Roberson: I think the Shadow is different because all of the other masked heroes are PRETENDING to be these menacing, masked figures. Green Hornet takes off his mask and he’s really Britt Reid, a normal man with a relatable background. The Spider is secretly Richard Wentworth. But the Shadow IS the Shadow. He only PRETENDS to be Lamont Cranston. And even later, when his identity as Kent Allard is revealed, it’s clear that his experiences have changed him such that he isn’t the man he used to be, in any way that counts. He simply IS the Shadow, all day, every day, and if we see him in any other guise, THAT is the mask.

CBN: The Shadow, of course, in mainstream pop culture is known best for the classic radio show of days gone by, and with tech being what it is, many folks may have access to those old radio shows today. How does Dynamite’s Shadow differ from this 1930s/’40s man of mystery?

Chris Roberson: I think each of us working on the Shadow has a slightly different version of the character in our heads. Garth Ennis’s interpretation isn’t quite the same as Victor Gischler’s, which isn’t the same as Matt Wagner’s, and so on. I find that I’m looking more to the pulp novels for inspiration than the radio show, personally, though I do still hear Orson Welles’s voice in my head whenever the Shadow speaks!

CBN: Do you have any particular favorite Shadow stories from the character’s long history in print, radio, etc?

Chris Roberson: Probably the four appearances of Shiwan Khan in the original Shadow magazine, if I had to pick.

CBN: In your continuing Light arc, it seems that every new answer raises more questions. Can you give us any hint at what is at her core and why she has targeted the Shadow?

Chris Roberson: No man is a villain in his own eyes. Nor is any woman.

CBN: Have you had a chance to see any of the limited series being done by Michael Uslan and Keith Burns which comes out in July teaming the Shadow and the Green Hornet? If so, what did you think since you have handled both those characters yourself?

Chris Roberson: I haven’t. But I’m looking forward to it!

CBN: Do you enjoy working with artist Giovanni Timpano? What does he bring to the table here?

Chris Roberson: I actually knew Giovanni’s art from the digital comic Frost that he’s doing with Brandon Jerwa and Eric Trautmann, published by Monkeybrain Comics. So when Dynamite told me he would be drawing my scripts for The Shadow, I was OVERJOYED. His work here is just PHENOMENAL, and I always eagerly away new pages coming in!

CBN: Is there any other project present or future you would like to discuss?

Chris Roberson: Aside from the work I’m doing with Dynamite, I’m most excited about the two creator-owned ongoing projects I’m doing at the moment. The first is Edison Rex, drawn by Dennis Culver, which is being serialized digitally through Monkeybrain Comics, and which will be released in trade paperback by IDW in June. The other is The Strangers, drawn by Scott Kowalchuk, which will be coming out from Oni starting in July (with the first issue available for free on FCBD).

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Chris Roberson for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions, and we would also like to thank Nick Barrucci and Josh Green of Dynamite for helping make this interview possible.

“The Shadow” #14 will hit shelves May 22nd!

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Review: Elric: The Balance Lost #6

The drama of the end of at least some of Michael Moorcock’s worlds continues in the latest issue of this series from Boom! Studios. No surprise, it is enjoyable and well-done. If you’ve missed what’s come before a brief overview: Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion cycle is a decades-old sci-fi/fantasy series encompassing dozens of different characters …

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