Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Batman Doc Savage Special – A Review

Batman Doc Savage Special

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Brian Azzarello

Art Phil Noto

Format $4.99 - 38 Pages of Story and Art

With an 8 Page Back story on the characters of First Wave

I loved this book; there I destroyed any mystery surrounding what I thought about the book. For the record when I read other reviews I like to be able to just see a rating so I know what they thought. I try to always include one at the end and you can scroll down and see what I thought with a letter grade. Then if you didn’t want any spoilers you are safe. The on-line reviewers I avoid are those who eschew the idea of giving a 4 star or 9 out of 10 or what ever type rating. I understand the philosophy behind that idea, but think it screams you are worried people won’t read you whole review if you give a quick thumbs up or down. My thought is let the reader decide how much information they want.

What made me love this book is the entire mixture of this strange and concocted brew of a world that Brian Azzarello has created. I’m glad DC is flexible enough to let Brian have his own little universe and go crazy with it. This issue focuses on Batman and Doc Savage, but the next mini-series to come, called First Wave, will have Black Canary, Rima the Jungle Girl, The Blackhawks, The Avenger, The Spirit and a worldwide criminal organization call The Golden Tree. This book has me dying to see the next issue, but we have to wait a few months.

Brian’s universe is a mixture of the modern and the past, with an art deco Mister X type of feel to it. We have cell phones and Zeppelins, it feels like the Golden Age has been moved into the 21st century, but we never evolved past certain things. It sounds mad as hell, but it works and gives the book a setting that is unlike anything else we have currently on the stands. It also make Doc Savage feel more like he belongs. It is the era of the pulp heroes, pushed forward to give us a modern edge without losing the soul of the past. Yesterday and today melded into a unique fusion that will be hard to maintain, but it works great in this book. The Twelve from Marvel comics had captured that feeling.

We also have a Batman who is young and raw and quick to draw his gun. Batman is trying to bring some level of decency to Gotham and his mission is against both a global criminal empire and the corruption that has taken hold of Gotham. His quest has brought him into the limelight and caused Doc Savage to travel to Gotham to hunt him down. The interaction between to two characters is great as Doc Savage is physical perfection and a multi-talented genius and Batman is a determined amateur at this point in his career. The story is a lot of set-up as Doc assumes Batman to be a bad guy, but being a deductive genius he figures out Batman is innocent of the murder. Doc manages to pull off a meeting between the two where he proposes a partnership between them.

Phil Noto does a great job of bringing Azzarello’s vision to life. I would think pulling off the artist side of this golden age / today fusion had to be difficult, but Noto pulled it off. His realistic and distinctive style that often settles for limited backgrounds worked very well for this book. He made Bruce and Doc really stand out from the crowds. I believe Noto colors his work and he choose a nice muted palette that was not so dark as to bury the book into a total noir feel, but far enough away from the super hero type coloring to make the book have that right type of feeling. In many comics the coloring side of the book sets the mood and tone just like walking into a bright yellow room versus a soft shade of green, the reader feels the impact.

I loved this younger and brasher Bruce Wayne, who is still half playboy and still very young and naïve. He has a vibrant and fun edge that would never feel right in the regular DCU. Doc is spot on perfect as he is the consummate good guy and as close to a super human as you can get in this world (I hope). The pacing was great as it moved at a good clip and was slow and fast when the story called for it, yet the book never dragged. Even the back story pages were great and gave us a taste of what is to come.

What a great opening shot. We have established the main players and laid out what the world is like. The back story gives of strong hints of what is to come. It feels like Azzarello has a long story planned out and I hope DC does this as a series of mini-series and maybe this can be another 100 issues in total.

Overall Grade A – The First Wave gets off to a rousing start that has me clamoring for more. Doc Savage and Batman is this world’s team supreme. Will they be able to work together? Can they take down The Golden Tree? When does the rest of the cast come in and how will they impact Bruce and Doc? I’m riding the First Wave when it hits the stores.


  1. I almost picked up Doc Savage, but the $5 price tag scared me away.