The cure for what ailes me: Doc Savage

I’ve been sick this week, and when I get sick, I like to curl up with a Doc Savage book. For those of you who are unaware of Doc Savage, I have prepared a graphic to introduce you.

The Savages

Anyway, the book I read this time was “The Mental Wizard.” The back of the book has the following description: “The massive creature-a mile from head to toe!-sleeps in the steaming jungle. Is the behemoth real, or has the golden enchantress ‘Z’ conquered the magnificent MAN OF BRONZE with the hypnotic power of her superhuman mind? Doc Savage meets his mental match when he uncovers the strange lost kingdom of the deadly Amazon.”

Doc Savage #53 - The Mental Wizard

I would just like to start by saying two things.

  1. That description is totally misleading. It makes it sound like Doc will be facing off against a giant jungle beast. The fact that the description is misleading doesn’t mean the book is not enjoyable, though. The book is great.
  2. If you ever find a stockpile of Doc Savage’s stuff, and you see several cans marked “coffee,” don’t be fooled- they’re really filled with explosives.

If you’ve read the last review of a Doc Savage book I did, you already know that if you cut Doc Savage, he bleeds awesome.

But here are some things you may not know about Doc.

  • He does not own any shirts that are not ripped to shreds. Just look at any Doc Savage book or magazine cover.
  • He is good at faking his own death/unconsciousness. He does it twice in this book.
  • Like Frodo, he has a mithril vest. Or at least a tightly woven yet light chain mail vest. It’s tight and strong enough to stop a poison dart needle.
  • Doc is calm in any situation. Seriously. Bombs are exploding left and right, strange men wearing strange leather smocks show up (and immediately die), a Amazonian princess descended from the pharaoh Klantic and has hair that appears to be gold plated (and telepathic control powers) shows up and causes trouble, it doesn’t matter. He keeps it together.
  • During part of his spare time, he designs military airplanes for large-scale production. The Columbian army even has (at least) one, which they loan to him. The afore-mentioned woman crashes it.
  • Doc is prepared for anything. He has a pocket metal detector (remember, this was written in the 1930’s) thats alert him to the grenade in the fruit basket the bad guys try to deliver.
  • Doc is possibly the best chemist ever. He uses a small chemistry set to make tear gas and a chemical that dissolves stone. He uses the stone dissolving one to become the new pharaoh Klantic. There’s no way for me to explain that one without having you just read the book.
  • Doc may very well have invented RFID tags. He’s left a tracer on each of the automatic pistols that he gives to his five aides. As a matter of fact, he hooks a RFID-style detector to the detonator that makes the before-mentioned coffee cans explode. He leaves the guns for the bad guys to find, and they rush him (after he’s warned them, of course) and that sets of the coffee-bombs…

Despite the fact that everything I’ve said here sounds like it comes from different books, it all really makes sense as you read it. And it’s a lot of fun.

Doc Savage Rules

Doc SavageI just finished “The Annihalist.” It’s a Doc Savage novel originally printed in the 30’s. The copy I have is a reprint, published in the 60’s.

Before I go any further, let me just say one thing; They sure don’t write ’em like they used to.

Honestly, this book was awesome in more ways than I can count.

There’s no possible way that it could be mistaken for “Literature,” but that doesn’t matter. It is pulp, pure and simple. And its a lot of fun. Reading it made me feel a lot better about some of the absurdities that creep their way into Oasis. More on that later.

If you are not familiar with Doc Savage, let me introduce you. First, think of the manliest man you have ever seen, heard, or read about. Now, multiply that by Chuck Norris. That’s Doc Savage.

Seriously, he’s a better detective than Sherlock Holmes, in better shape than Batman, he’s sneakier than The Shadow, he’s a world class chemist, surgeon, martial artist, engineer, rock climber and besides all that, his skin and hair are in perfect shades of bronze. You won’t forget that if you ever read a Doc Savage book, because the book will remind you pretty much constantly. (The bronze giant entered the room completely silently… The metallic man punched left and right, beating the snot out of the two largest henchmen… (This is actually better than I make it sound.))

At one point, a man just watching Doc work out breaks out in a sweat, due to the power of suggestion inherent in the intensity of the exercises.

And if that weren’t enough total pulpy goodness, as it ends up, Doc is above the law. That’s right, when Doc Savage catches bad guys, he doesn’t send them to the police. They are shipped to his private rehabilitation center called the “crime college”(guarded by remote control machine gun nests).

It gets even better.

Doc has discovered the cause of crime.

You ready for it?

In your (and everybody’s) brain there is a crime gland. Oh yeah. A crime gland. And when the crime gland is broken, you lose the natural inhibitions that would normally stop you from committing crimes. By the way, one of the things that happens at the crime college is every patient is given a surgery (without their consent- he’s above the law, remember?) that fixes the crime gland.

In “The Annihilist,” someone has figured out a way to kill using the crime gland. Rather, they’ve created something that, when the crime gland gets excited, causes your eyes to pop out and you die. And the police think it’s Doc Savage who’s doing it. Awesomeness ensues.

The bottom line is this: it may very well be hokey, pulpy, campy, totally impossible and cheesy, but it is a whole lot of fun.

Good luck finding your own copy, though. I bought mine (along with a bunch of other Doc Savage books) at a local used bookstore for $0.75 each. You might be able to get it at Amazon – The Annihilist (Doc Savage #31).

Or, I have a sweeter deal for you. Because I want Doc’s greatness to live on, I’m willing to send my copy of “The Annihilist” to one of you, free of charge. If you’re interested, leave a comment and tell me why I should send it to you. As soon as somebody gives me a good enough reason, I’ll send it off. If nobody wants it, that’s OK, too. It will simply return to its hallowed place upon my bookshelf.