By Koppy McFad
March 28, 2010 - 01:00
A mysterious global conspiracy is afoot and Doc Savage and the Spirit are on the trail of this plot-- even if they don't know about it yet.
This miniseries is set in its own separate continuity-- a sort of Earth-Noir which looks old-fashioned but has modern trappings. Doc Savage and the Spirit are both working on separate cases but readers can tell this is all linked to some evil plot going on in the South American jungles, where Rima the jungle girl is active.
Batman is included on the cover even if he does not appear in this issue at all. But those who read the Batman-Doc Savage crossover earlier will know he will get involved sooner or later. Just the same, Bat-fanatics who buy this issue may feel sort of cheated when their hero isn't even mentioned.
The story has great mood and atmosphere with a real sense of a complex scheme going on, so nefarious that even the bad guys are not fully aware of what it all means. The heroes are all strikingly memorable in their own way-- from Doc Savage with his laconic dedication to the Spirit's playful way of dealing with death. The bad guys are also a pretty intimidating lot-- each in his own way. From the giant robot-man to evil swordsman to the Rasputin figure, drinking on the docks, they all seem villains worthy of a great adventure.
But the story is also moving too slowly, especially considering this is only a six-part miniseries with a huge cast. This almost ensures that the ultimate climax will be rushed and will have some glaring plotholes. Granted, this miniseries is suppose to be a launching pad for new DOC SAVAGE and SPIRIT series but it still looks like it will end with many loose ends still to be tied up.
The sense of timelessness that DC Comics is trying to achieve in this series doesn't really work either. Characters make mention of "the war" and dress in retro-fashions like this was the late-1940s. Yet every so often, a piece of modern life pops up, like a cellphone or a mohawked punk rocker. These additions look more like a careless mistake by the artist rather than the intentional design of the book's creators. One thing that does work is the classic style of the illustrations, which make the story really look like something out of the 1940s-- in a good way.
This book and the miniseries itself are ambitious and experimental and they have a look that will be appreciated by people who are tired of the big events that dominate both DC and Marvel comics these days. Those who will nit-pick over every inconsistency will find a lot to pick about, especially since the Spirit and Doc Savage aren't quite the same characters in this book as in their previous appearances in other comics. But if you don't let yourself get hung up on these details, it should be quite entertaining.
Rating: 7.5 /10