Introduction On Racism Epigraphs A History of the Pulps A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Glossary and Character Taxonomy Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents The Best of the Encyclopedia
Savage, Doc. Doc Savage was created by Henry W. Ralston (Avenger (II), Bill Barnes), John Nanovic, and Lester Dent (Avenger (II), Foster Fade, Curt Flagg, Gadget Man, Genius Jones, Lynn Lash, Lee Nace, Oscar Sail, Ed Stone), and appeared in Doc Savage Magazine #1-181 (1933-1949) and the radio show Doc Savage (1934-1935).
Doc Savage was one of the two or three most popular and longest-lasting of all American pulp heroes. He is a "man of superhuman strength and Protéan genius, whose life is dedicated to the destruction of evildoers." Clark Savage was raised by his widower father to be the perfect human and was taught by a series of experts in every field ranging from "Indian fakirs to Yale physicists, from circus acrobats to jungle trackers." He was especially trained in surgery, and became the world's best surgeon (hence his nickname of “Doc”). His headquarters and home is his Fortress of Solitude, a super-fortress located on a desolate island in the far north, beyond the Arctic Circle. The Fortress serves as a place for Savage to periodically retire to, to meditate and invent–for Savage is a master of SCIENCE! and has created a variety of technologically advanced equipment and weapons, including miniature grenades, gas-filled glass balls, infrared goggles, and special high explosives. When not in use, the equipment is kept in the Fortress, as are special creations too dangerous to be used.
His New York headquarters is the 86th floor of "one of New York's tallest buildings," in all likelihood the Empire State Building. From there, and from a warehouse on the Hudson River, owned by the "Hidalgo Trading Company," Savage and his six assistants fight a never-ending war on crime, funded by a massive supply of gold hidden in a lost valley in Central America guarded over by the descendants of the Mayans. Savage’s assistants are all exceptionally capable in their own right. Monk Mayfair is one of the world's foremost chemists and is a millionaire with a penthouse lab near Wall Street. Mayfair is also an ugly, ape-like man with an eye for the ladies (he never forgets a pair of legs once he sees them). Brigadier General Theodore Marley "Ham" Brooks, a British-acting American, is one of the best lawyers in the world, a Harvard graduate with a sharp tongue. He is also a sharp dresser, is tall, handsome and slender, carries and uses a sword cane, and carries on a long-running feud with Monk. John "Renny" Renwick is a top civil engineer, a tall man (almost as big as Doc Savage) with enormous fists and great strength. Major Thomas J. "Long Tom" Roberts is an "electrical wizard" who always looks pale and unhealthy but who is as vigorous as any five men. William Harper "Johnny" Littlejohn is an expert archaeologist. And, finally, there is Patricia "Pat" Savage, Doc's cousin and a stalwart adventurer in her own right.
Savage is not superhuman, but he is at the peak of human ability, not just physically but mentally. In addition to his physical skills and expertise in every field imaginable, Doc is also a great inventor, capable of coming up with just about any sort of weapon or instrument or air/sea/land craft. Doc is also so good at surgery that he has created a crime college to which he brings criminals so that he can operate on them and remove their evil impulses.
Doc Savage’s Rogues Gallery is not quite as memorable as the Shadow (I)'s or Spider (II)’s, but Savage does have one very memorable enemy: John Sunlight, the only man to survive a bout with Doc Savage and return for a second try, and the only man to ever break into the Fortress of Solitude.
* I'm including Doc Savage in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because of his historical importance and because of his archetypal status. Doc Savage Magazine is historically important as the second-longest-running hero pulp, and Doc himself as the second-most popular pulp hero of the 1930s and 1940s. Doc Savage himself is a pulp icon--not an archetype in terms of other characters being based on him, but iconic as an expression of so much of the Pulp Era. The stories are not fun to read, however (Lester Dent was never a good writer), and remain a prime example in the pulps of the sum of the series' elements adding up to far less than the individual elements.
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