Two years after DC’s Doc Savage wrapped up, Millenium Comics took its shot. A letter from me in one of the issues proclaims it the best adaptation ever; rereading, I’m not sure I’d place it quite that high, simply because I just finished the DC run and that was darn good. However I still like Millenium a lot (cover by Brian Stelfreze, all rights to current holder).
The stories were set in the 1930s, but hopscotched through the decade. Monarch of Armageddon is 1938; Doom Dynasty a few years earlier; The Devil’s Thoughts takes place right before The Man of Bronze launched the pulp series.
The first and easily best story has Doc beginning to question whether he’s leading the life he really wants. He flies off to Hidalgo and Princess Monja only to discover his arch-enemy, John Sunlight has been there first. Sunlight, currently working with the Nazis has multiple irons in the works including taking out his nemesis and uniting the Nazis with the Thulians, a lost race of perfect Aryans living up in the Arctic Circle. The writer, Mark Ellis, does an outstanding job capturing Sunlight’s creepy persona, though the book is if anything a little too full for four issues (Nazis, mobsters, John Sunlight, a lost race …).
Doom Dynasty (Terry Collins) pits Doc against Dr. Nikola, a turn-of-the-century villain who’s already clashed with Doc’s father and grandfather. It’s not bad, but definitely the weakest. The Devil’s Thoughts (writer Charles Moore) is a familiar set-up—Doc goes up against revolutionary movement out to push the French out of Indochina (one of the villains, Hanoi Shan, is presumably named for Buckaroo Banzai)—but set just before Doc’s career kicks off. He gets involved with a woman and gets to show less sympathy for European colonialism than he did in the pulps.
The stories included text features by Doc Savage buff Will Murray (who turned out several new novels for the series back in the 1990s) covering the creation of Doc and of John Sunlight. The writing of the series is good and the art is a big asset (despite the cover showing Doc as a blonde above). Renny’s fists are drawn as the gigantic things they were and Long Tom actually looks wimpy and frail.
There was also a Pat Savage one-shot showing her taking on the mob, a character guide and one part of an adaptation of Repel. This was disappointing, much like Marvel’s early 1970s run—there’s simply too much to cram into two issues, so Cadwiller Olden gets short-changed in comparison to the anti-gravity effects.
And then they were done, midway through the adaptation. I wondered at the time of Millenium had just gone belly-up like so many indie companies, but no, it was around at least through the 1990s. Presumably Street & Smith took back the rights, or possibly the books weren’t earning enough money.
While it lasted, though, it was glorious.