So I just finished reading DC’s Batman/Doc Savage Special, which I’ve been looking forward to for a while.
Great cover by J.G. Jones. Inside…hmm.
As a prologue leading into the pulpy First Wave books DC will start publishing next year, it works fairly well in establishing the alternate universe in which these characters coexist. As a story, it kinda fails. Writer Brian Azzarello brings a noirish attitude to it, and gives an interesting take on the heroes, but narratively it just hangs limply and ends on a trite note.
It’s not helped by the artwork by Phil Noto, which lacks the visual dynamism that comic book storytelling really demands, and the book’s color palate (I assume colored by Noto himself, as no credit is given otherwise) is dreary in an obvious attempt at making it feel more noir. It just makes it seem unexciting.
And I really don’t like Noto’s take on Doc Savage, especially the coloring he’s given.
All that said, I’m still looking forward to seeing what they do with First Wave, though with more trepidation. It will feature art by Rags Morales, and the advance images that have been shown are great, a lot better than the art in the comic at hand.
Also, I have to say, in spite of the underwhelming story in this book, I’m intrigued by Azzarello’s comments and notes about the various heroes who will be operating in this pulp, non-superpowered world. He has clearly studied the original characters in depth and put a lot of thought into fleshing them out psychologically and making them somewhat more realistic than might usually be the case. I’ve seen a few comments by devoted pulp fans who detest this approach to the classic characters they love, but I like well-developed characters, and at least in principle I find Azzarello’s ideas pretty cool.
My main reservation along those lines is that, if this comic is any indication, he may have too much noir and not enough pulp adventure in his approach. This could work fine for Batman, but not for characters like Doc Savage, who really need to be somewhat over the top. More realistic I can enjoy. Mundane, not so much.