A darkened room is pierced by a single light. The bloody corpse of a man bears witness to a stranger clad in black. The disembodied thoughts of a grief stricken soul stretch through this visual narrative. A woman appears (as they often do) shots ring out and the worlds of Batman and Doc Savage are about to collide.
There’s much to like and dislike about this latest entry into the mythos of both Batman and Doc Savage. There is a little to be confused about too. I liked the feel of this book one part dime store novel another part pulp fiction with a dash neo-noir. I tried to get a grip of the time frame for the story also. There were elements of the forties and fifties what with the clubs, the cars, gyrocopters and blimps. But cell phones? It’s better to suspend disbelief and go with the flow.
Batman is introduced as a young crusader. Brash, cocky, arrogant, a little inexperienced but not without skills. Oh, and he is packing heat. Serious heat. This Batman carries two Colt .45 caliber semi-automatics under his cape. Doc Savage on the other hand is more of a finished product but not without self doubt. His father has just died and the “wonder” of his last words leaves Doc at a loss on how to move forward. He needs a distraction. Gotham provides it.
The end of this story doesn’t bring about a satisfying conclusion. Neither does the crime itself stimulate much mystery. That’s not the point. It’s the journey. Batman and Doc Savage get involved in a crime, standard fare even by Gotham’s standards. A lewd king is shot down, a web of intrigue involving Wayne Enterprises and Savage’s Hidalgo Trading Company is woven and both firms are implicated. What this book provides is a vehicle for two divergent yet similar heroes to showcase their fledgling prowess and how the encounter shapes their philosophies and futures. But do these two worlds belong together? Do we get something out of the collision of these two immutable forces?
Certainly the character of Batman shines here. Raw, unproven he survives on the razors age by his sharp wit. His instincts protect him when common sense fails. There’s a willingness to make mistakes if he can learn from them and take a punch if needed. He’s new to the scene and it shows. But where the common man may pause to take stock a callow Bruce Wayne has moved strides ahead.
Doc Savage is no stranger to the scene. He is worldly, urbane and polished. A man among men and the desire of most women. He’s curious if not entirely confident but he is sure the world needs him and he is the right man for the job.
So what do these two stalwarts have to offer each other? A sense of focus if not purpose. They may not be on the same page but they are reading from the same book. As the Doctor mused “Is the world full of good people who do bad things or bad people trying to do good?” Fortunately for this world Doc Savage and Batman are the arbiters of our fate.
Batman/Doc Savage Special:
Reviewed by Dark Knight Dave