Doc Savage Vol 2 #6
Archie Goodwin, Editor-in-Chief
John Warner, Editor
Ralph Macchio, Assistant Editor
Nora Maclin, Design
Dan Adkins, Art Consultant
Lenny Grow, Production
Ken Barr, Cover
Editorial by John Warner
After several issues without an editorial, Warner jumps in to counter the “rampant rumor that DOC SAVAGE magazine has been cancelled.” Not only is he “happy to tell you that it has not been cancelled,” there has not “been any talk of it at this writing.” But this is issue #6, which means there are only two issues remaining for the “only magazine on the newsstands with a heart of bronze,” leading one to wonder the source of those persistent rumors.
The articles, such as more Amazing Five character profiles from “bombastic Bob Sampson,” will only be “a semi-regular feature” because the “subject has its limitations.” Not only that, but “[w]e can’t really afford to have the articles fully illustrated, and stills from the original movie seem a bit of a copout [sic].” (This sounds like a cop-out excuse if an aversion to film stills was the only thing holding back the magazine from more articles.)
“The Sky Stealers!”Story: Doug Moench
Art: Tony DeZuniga
“September, 1936…a few days before the autumnal equinox.”
They loot and pillage and then “blast into the sky” using “scepter-jetpack[s]” to depart in their airship.
At the museum, Doc and Monk combat a massively-strong mummy that turns out to be a drugged and hypnotized Renny who had been scouting around. Horus kidnaps Monk’s secretary Monica to make her “Hathor--personification of the sky...and wife of Horus!,” flying her to one of “two giant zeppelins--right over the harbor--!”
The “secretary-turned-superwoman” joins the “supergods” to turn on the Bronze Giant and his crew. No match for their “super-strength,” the aides – “even Doc, himself” – are captured. They are bound in a barge which sails them down “a subterranean branch of the Nile” all the way to “the City of the Dead!” – “a modern madman’s simulation of the underworld...with components looted from various museums” along with the “new,” such as “uranium tubes” and “a glassite rejuveation [sic] tube.”
“EPILOGUE:” As is typical, Monk and Ham had been earlier vying for the attentions of an annoyed Monica, and with the dust settled, they resume their competition at the 86th floor headquarters. “Boys... Boys... there’s no need to fight over me. I’ll take both of you,” she assures. To a roomful of “uproarious laughter,” she picks the two up, one in each hand, and “effortlessly carries [them] off,” her superwoman powers apparently still intact.
Unlike previous adventures, there is little mystery to the identity of the criminal mastermind, but by now the ritual of masking and unmasking deserves a temporary rest.
The letters begin with a criticism of Bob Sampson and his article from last issue, “The Pulp Doc Savage!,” for supposedly being “less interested in fact than in his own beautiful prose (which I disliked intensely).” Yet the man says he wants articles like this about Doc, not about George Pal or Ron Ely, and nowhere does he offer an example of any factual errors, even while grudgingly admitting Sampson was “highly informative.” Marvel defends Sampson’s stylings, and really Sampson should be commended for writing in a voice that captures the attention and imagination of readers more than the easy way out of dull, dry academic prose. Sampson’s excellent “Renny” profile in this issue will only confirm the letter-writer’s ambivalence.
The letter-writers are not all malcontents. One in particular likes these black-and-whites for being “better from how [Doc] was portrayed in the old color comic” which, to him, “wrote from the standpoint of Doc as a super-hero.” This seems appropriate for the color comic format, but this particular reader recognizes that “story and artwise, you capture the mood of Doc Savage [and t]he way Dent originally wrote...Doc as an adventurer.” He blames part of the problem in the color issues on them being “passed down thru too many writers,” resulting in inconsistent “plot and characterization,” a fact he congratulates “Doug and Tony” for rectifying in the “b&w book.” So thrilled with the past six issues is he that he even goes so far as to proclaim that “Ken Barr’s excellent covers [as well as his] style almost rivals James Bama’s paintings on the Bantam paperbacks”!
Article by Bob Sampson
Illustration by Frank Cirocco
Sampson, described by The Pulp Reader website as “[t]he mysterious yet prolific Robert Sampson [who] wrote a lot of reference books about the world of the pulps,” gives another in-depth profile, this one of “John Renwick, a civil engineer of international repute [a]nd…an adventurer and associate of the Doc Savage group.” It is a chance to know better the Lester Dent characters who might otherwise be lost in the shuffle amidst all the “high adventure” and “all new action.”
But at that time, “Renny was uninterested in such abstracts” and instead “ranged across the world” to the Chinese uplands, Alaska, India, and the Canadian forests while “scrawl[ing] out articles of crushing technical weight.” It was a “telegram from the Savages [that] brought him back from Africa [for some] special jobs—all quietly done.” First up were “revisions to the architectural drawings for the largest building in the world” to which “Renny added some special provisions.” Also “a high-security hospital...concealed in the wilds of upstate New York.” Another was “the transformation of an ancient warehouse on the Hudson River.” Then there was the arsenal of “advanced machine-gun[s] hardly larger than a pistol,” and more.
He got close to the war with “a stream of air fields, roads, major constructions,” and helped with “post-war industrial reconstruction” of England. After that, “[i]n a ponderous old building near 40th St., he keeps a worn old office crammed with worn old furniture.” By now “Renny is his own man, making his own decisions.” In one incident “[h]e pistols down the last remaining member of a mob.” Naturally, “Doc does not approve.” Not long after, “[w]e begin losing sight of [Renny],” just around the time Conde Nast’s Doc Savage Magazine begins to fade.