Friday, June 19, 2009

Steranko's Doc Savage covers

Jim Steranko wrote extensively about two characters in the pulp magazines--characters that were the early prototypes for Superman and Batman.  Doc Savage and the Shadow.

I had already bought several Doc Savage paperbacks (with beautiful James Bama covers) before Marvel announced they would publish a comic book based on the character in 1972.  It was a pretty good series with nice art by Ross Andru.

Doc Savage 2 cover by Steranko 1972

Steranko drew the cover of issue #2, set against a Mayan backdrop.  The first two issues were a retelling of Doc's origin, which I had read in the first paperback.  Doc's father is killed and he traces the murderer back to Central America--the source of the Savage's great wealth.

Steranko's Doc uses the Bama design (as did the Andru art inside), with the skull-cropped hair, vest, and boots.  That was the version I always had in my head reading the paperbacks.  In the History of Comics, you can see that Doc was portrayed on those covers with blond hair and normal clothes--kind of like a muscled Robert Redford.

I love how different properties get "Marvelized".  In the logo, SAVAGE reins above everything else.  Which is funny, because Doc isn't Savage, he's like Brainaic 5 with superior fighting skills.

Doc Savage 3 cover by Steranko 1972\

Doc Savage #3 started a new storyline with the cult of the Silver Death's Head.  Doc's creator, Lester Dent, always created great names for the bad guys in his stories.  This cover features the villain standing on a map of the world he intends to conquer, while Doc faces off against his army of silver goons.  Pretty wacky.

This series only lasted eight issues, but it wasn't the Bronze Man's last appearance at Marvel.  He guest starred in Giant-Size Spider-Man #3, and later had his own black and white magazine--which also lasted eight issues!

Steranko would go onto to express his love for the pulps by painting a series of paperback covers for The Shadow.  I'll always admire Steranko for turning me onto the great history of pop culture and characters like Doc Savage.  Nuff said.

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