Friday, May 29, 2015

Fighting 'round the World (1933)

Doc Savage: The Polar Treasure  by Lester Dent writing as Kenneth Robeson; restored and edited by Will Murray and others (1933/This edition from Nostalgia Ventures 2007): From the first year of the adventures of pulp superman (and partial inspiration for Superman) Doc Savage comes The Polar Treasure, a fairly bloody voyage into the North Polar regions in search of a lost ship and a buried treasure. 

Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze, was already a physical and mental marvel early in his career, as were his five compatriots. Doc's main chronicler, Lester Dent, had done a lot of research on polar exploration for other projects before penning this novel, and the research certainly came in handy: it's a compellingly eerie and dangerous landscape for a Doc Savage adventure.

These reprints from Nostalgia Ventures offer Doc's adventures in something close to their original magazine size of the 1930's, along with reproductions of covers from their original appearances and in some cases from the Bantam reprints that started in the early 1960's and ran until the early 1990's (!). Pulp Maester Will Murray and others also restore sections to the novels when there have substantive changes to Dent's manuscript dating all the way back to the original publication. Here, that adds about 1000 words to the novel. It's all good though occasionally racist fun, with Doc's violence not yet toned down by Dent. Also, Doc Savage beats up a polar bear. Recommended.


Doc Savage: The Pirate of the Pacific  by Lester Dent writing as Kenneth Robeson; restored and edited by Will Murray and others (1933/This edition from Nostalgia Ventures 2007): Fairly bloody and somewhat racist Doc Savage adventure from Doc's first year of publication, lovingly restored and presented by the fine people at Nostalgia Ventures. Doc and his five merry pranksters foil the attempt of a modern-day pirate to stage a coup in a thinly disguised Philippines (here dubbed the 'Luzon Union'). 

All the stuff involving Mongols and 'half-castes' and 'yellow people' speaking pidgin English can be pretty tough sledding at times, and the narrative does get stuck on a ship (literally) for what seems like an interminable number of pages before we finally reach the Luzon Union. Maybe the weakest of the early Doc Savage novels, with an atypically un-weird super-villain behind everything. It really feels more like a job for the Shadow or Terry and the Pirates or those guys who fought Fu Manchu all those times. Lightly recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment