Sunday, March 14, 2010

Book Review: Doc Savage in "Cold Death"

Before "The Man of Steel" appeared in Action Comics #1, Doc Savage, "The Man of Bronze" was saving the planet from the diabolical schemes of evil masterminds:

While I've been a science-fiction and fantasy fan my whole life, I never read any pulp stories until I picked-up Hunt at the Well of Eternity (see my 6 February blog post).  After reading that book I decided to delve into some original pulp fiction:

I found this particular book, published by Nostalgia Ventures, on sale at Half-Price Books.  Along with Doc Savage, Nostalgia Ventures has reprinted other well-known pulp heroes such as The Shadow and The Avenger:

Cold Death, published under the pen name of Kenneth Robeson in 1936, was actually written by Laurence Donovan.  However, the name "Laurence Donovan" may have been yet another psuedonym for an obscure writer, who disappeared from the pulp scene after World War II.

In this story, a nefarious villain known as "Var" has developed a freezing ray and begins terrorizing New York City.  Doc Savage and his five team mates set out to stop him, utilizing both their scientific know-how and their fists.

Cold Death, along with other Nostalgia Ventures reprints of Doc Savage earn 4-5 star ratings by a handful of reviewers on  This was the first Doc Savage story I've read, and while I love action and adventure stories, I had trouble enjoying this one.  Written in typical "pulp-style," Doc Savage is a true-blue hero--who has no character flaws whatsoever.  Reading stories about such do-gooders is great fun, if you're a kid.  Adults, however, tend to have a more jaded, or even cynical view of the world, so it can be more difficult to "step back" and enjoy such a story.

Back in the '70's I use to see the Bantam Books reprints of Doc Savage in the bookstores, but I never bought any of them.  Therefore, I don't have any nostalgic, emotional connection with The Man of Bronze, like I do with any of the comic-book heroes I use to read about.  (And still do).

Had I read any Doc Savage's amazing exploits when I was a teenager, I'd be more favorably inclined towards Doc and his associates.  For now, I'll forgo assigning any "stellar ratings," until I get around to reading more of The Man of  Bronze's adventures.

This book also includes the story, The South Pole Terror, which I'll set aside for now, along with two short biographies on Laurence Donovan and Lester Dent.

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