I have a couple of different Topics of Interest in this entry…I know I should blog more often, but I usually wait until I have a backlog of innerestin’ stuff so I don’t have to resort to posting pictures of my lunch or my cat sleeping. Oh, well…here’s one on account of our cat Liddy…
First up—A review of Will Murray’s The Miracle Menace, the latest book in his The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage series.
As some of you may be aware, I have some experience with writing Doc Savage, at least insofar as crafting comic book stories. When it comes to prose and emulating the pulp story-telling style of Lester (Kenneth Robeson) Dent, Will Murray is the undisputed master. Starting in the early 1990s, Will continued the Doc Savage novel series and after a 20 year hiatus, picked it up again with the WILD adventures of Doc Savage.
The adjective is well-deserved. The Miracle Menace is by turns weird, suspenseful, action-packed and most definitely wild. Set in 1937, Doc and his crew get involved with a mysterious man who claims to be Christopher Columbus. He shows up in La Plata, Missouri of all places (hometown of Doc creator Lester Dent) already embroiled with colorful characters like stage magician Gulliver Greene, Spook Davis and Ivan Cass.
The enigma swirls around a dark island in the Great Lakes, a sinister brotherhood of telepaths and old Victorian manor house that sometimes is there and sometimes isn’t. Christopher Columbus is only one of the mysteries Doc and team contend with in this novel.
It wouldn’t be a Doc Savage adventure without a great villain, and The Miracle Menace definitely provides that…in fact, the villain is one from Doc’s past who is quite possibly second only to John Sunlight as the adversary who gave him the most trouble.
The Miracle Menace is a truly enjoyable book in the classic pulp mode. It feels totally authentic, which isn’t surprising. Long ago, Will Murray found the “Kenneth Robeson” voice, and he’s been writing Doc Savage with it ever since.
The cover is another beautiful painting by Joe DeVito, the successor to James Bama. In fact, he showcases Bama’s dapper version of Ham Brooks and the book itself is Leonard Leone, the former Bantam Books art director who actually posed for Ham. I also liked Joe DeVito’s design of the “superfirer” in Doc’s hand with the extended “ram’s horn” magazine which has never been properly depicted.
Overall, The Miracle Menace is excellent and should please Doc Savage purists as well as intrigue new readers. Will Murray presents the cast of familiar, beloved characters in the setting in which they work best—wild shennangians, SF elements, mystery and lots of fistfights.
Check out all of The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage series here: http://www.adventuresinbronze.com/
As for the second Topic of Interest:
The Justice Machine: Object of Power graphic novel has finally found a publisher, courtesy of Darren Davis and Bluewater Productions.
This book has had a rather twisty and turny path over the last couple of years, partly due to the vagaries of the direct market and partly due to publisher incompetence. Since the art for the book was completed over a year ago, the whole thing became a study in frustration.
Five or so years ago, after Justice Machine art was featured in The Everything Guide to Writing Graphic Novels, I was queried by several parties about reviving The Machine. Since it seemed like events were pushing us to reintroduce the team in one form or another, we decided a compilation volume was the best way to go.
The sales and critical response to High Gear Edition Volume One was very encouraging…and within a year, I was working with Moonstone Books to create the first new Justice Machine material in nearly 20 years. The initial plan was for a three-issue miniseries and a “Reintroductory” special.
The series was originally scheduled for fall of 2011–the 30th anniversary of The Justice Machine’s debut– but due to financial issues, the project was delayed multiple times. Then finally, the agreement with Moonstone expired altogether. So, The Justice Machine floated around in limbo for a bit.
Granted, if I’d wanted to surrender all control of the Justice Machine property or sell it outright (as the Dynamite Books publisher wanted me to), Object of Power would have probably been out by now. But after my experiences with Moonstone, I have zero interest in letting a third party have any kind of control over one of my intellectual properties.
There’s no need for it nowadays unless that third party can offer something that you can’t do yourself. Simple enough criteria, but you’d be surprised how few publishers have those kind of basic resources nowadays. Fortunately, Bluewater Productions does.
Here’s a link to the official press release on Bluewater’s site: http://www.bluewaterprod.com/news/Justicemachineann.php
I wanted more than just a publisher who would put out The Justice Machine: Object of Power graphic novel and leave it at that. The Justice Machine has a great deal of untapped potential, particularly with the all-important secondary rights of movie and TV development. At this point, there are very few comic book super-teams with the cachet of The Justice Machine who aren’t owned by major corporations.
Working with Bluewater, I’ll be building the foundation of a Justice Machine franchise. We’ll be making the earlier issues available in various formats and we’ll create other media tie-ins. We’re also serious about new Justice Machine comic projects, either in graphic novel or mini-series form.
To indulge in a little sappiness—I love the Justice Machine. I’ve owned and developed them since 1991, when I purchased the rights from Mike Gustovich. Twice I’ve turned down offers to license and/or sell the Machine. Therefore, whatever form future Justice Machine projects may take, I can assure all and sundry that the core concepts and characters will remain intact.
No pointless reboots, no arbitrary resets and no changing things for the sake of it when a new creative team comes in…mainly because I’ll always be guiding The Justice Machine.
Official Justice Machine site: justicemachine.com
Justice Machine Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpX8veNwDew