Saturday, November 09, 2013

Doc Savage: The Miracle Menace

When I heard about the new “wild” adventures of Doc Savage, I had some misgivings. I thought the price was a bit high and I was afraid the larger page counting would lead to story padding. The original Doc novels were lean adventures (even leaner as the series aged).

Also, when author Will Murray wrote several Doc Savage novels for Bantam books in the early 90s, I thought they were rather hit and miss.

My thinking has changed.

It started with Skull Island, Murray’s story of Doc Savage meeting King King. It took place early in Doc’s career, before he had officially begun his life’s work of crusading again evil. The novel was a grand adventure, with an exciting plot and a wealth of detail about Doc’s family and his unusual upbringing. I had no qualms with the size or the price or the writing.        

Now comes The Miracle Menace.

In the latest Doc novel, Murray tells two stories that finally converge into one epic. In the first thread, out of work magician Gulliver Greene and his assistant Spook Davis encounter strange happenings in La Plata, Missouri (the hometown of original Doc Savage author Lester Dent) involving a murdering midget, a suspicious religious cult, telepathy and the rumor that Christopher Columbus is alive and well in 20th Century Missouri. In the parallel story, Doc Savage and his aides investigate a mansion in the Missouri woods that disappears and appears at random.

When the two sections of the novel finally come together, Murray dishes out an explosive finale, including shocking revelations about the past of some of the characters and the appearance of a villain from an earlier Doc novel. The secret of the vanishing house proves to be one of the most amazing mysteries of Doc Savage’s career.

Wild adventures, indeed.

With Skull Island and The Miracle Menace, I was as captivated and entertained as I was when I first discovered Doc Savage as a kid. Back then, those classic James Bama covers drew me in with the promise of action and mystery. Now Joe De Vito paints Doc’s covers and the last two have been spectacular.

I have gone back and found that some of the earlier Murray Doc novels that I had a problem with have magically gotten better.

Apparently the 12 year-old inside of me has issued an order to relax and enjoy the new Doc Savage novels. The older I get the more that kid seems to get the best of me.