Part 1 and Part 2 of this article explored the unique novelty of seeing Doc Savage and The Shadow together in the 1990 DC Comics story The Conflagration Man. There were a number of clever, fun moments of mixing the story and character structures of the two great pulp heroes. Authors Mike Barr and Gerard Jones (who as solo writers guided each of the two comics for DC), had a unique arrangement in telling the story: they plotted the overall tale together, then each scripted his own book as they alternated…Barr for Doc Savage, Jones for The Shadow Strikes. It was an interesting partnership, which in some ways mirrored what might have been had Lester Dent and Walter Gibson ever joined forces on a story. Barr (like Dent) tended to favor action scenes and a headlong pace of adventure, whereas Jones brought a more tightly-plotted and subtle approach to the writing that more resembled Gibson’s writing style.
Part 3 of the crossover story shifted back to The Shadow Strikes comic, so Jones was at the writing helm.
At the end of the previous issue, Doc had arrived in the aftermath of a gang battle, finding evidence of considerable violent mayhem, and also a strange symbol scrawled on the wall. The symbol had been left by The Shadow, and was the chemical designation for cobalt. A little deduction by Doc, and he determined that The Shadow himself could be found at New York’s Cobalt Club.
That set up this fun scene, where Cobalt Club members are excited and somewhat stunned at the impending arrival at the club of a millionaire crimefighter…none other than Clark Savage, Jr.
This type of scene is where The Conflagration Man really excelled, giving fans of both pulp heroes a smile, along with pinup-worthy moments like this full page handshake shared by Doc and Lamont Cranston.
The two men confer, and begin to lay their plans for jointly dealing with the danger from a rogue weapons-manufacturer, complicated by the apparent kidnapping of the daughter of a scientist who had developed a devastating new weapon.
What both men are unaware of, is the fact that the daughter is a quite willing hostage. She is fond of the finer things in life, and detests her inventor father’s non-materialistic philosophies. She is in fact romancing the unscrupulous (and rich) villain of the story.
Doc and The Shadow proceed with plans to disrupt the activities of the munitions gang and to rescue the daughter (who has no desire to be rescued). There is some more bang-bang action and further deduction, which ultimately leads to the final scene of this penultimate part of The Conflagration Man. Doc and The Shadow head to an armory where they have been led to believe the case can be resolved…but it is in fact a trap.
Traveling together allows for another fun image…Doc and The Shadow both riding on the car’s running boards.
And so the two great crimefighters head straight into the trap and impending doom…