In the previous article, I began a look back at the 1991-92 Millennium Productions depiction of Doc’s ultimate enemy, John Sunlight.
Written by Mark Ellis and drawn by Darryl Banks, Sunlight was the antagonist in an ambitious, complex story called The Monarch of Armageddon. It was a direct sequel to the 1938 pulp novel The Devil Genghis. In the first issue, it was explained how Sunlight survived apparent death at the end of the Lester Dent-authored novel, and set into motion a plot by the arch-villain to dismantle or destroy everything cherished by the Man of Bronze.
The story continues on a mysterious yacht called Thunderbolt, where the scope of that plot begins to unfold. Sunlight, returned to western civilization, has become involved in Nazi operations (pre-WWII) to disrupt the United States. However, Sunlight actually has very little interest in that goal — as is rapidly shown, he has maneuvered, manipulated, betrayed and murdered just about everyone in the Nazi network.
The bloodstained newspaper article at the end of this sequence shows that his next target is none other than Pat Savage. A wild sequence follows, in which Sunlight himself does not appear, but he sends minions to Pat’s salon in Manhattan to attack her. In classic Pat style, she shows she is no easy victim.
Nevertheless she is severely outnumbered and about to be overpowered, when Monk and Ham arrive, and between the three of them, they put the assailants to rout. But Sunlight is far from done menacing Pat and Doc’s aides.
However, for the present the chastened assailants return to report their failure to Sunlight. In a technique right out of the original pulp novel, Sunlight has his failed underlings put in a lightless room, and promises to go to there after a suitable amount of time has passed and “talk to them”. This is not a metaphor…Sunlight actually does bend people to his will by isolation and the power of his voice and personality.
Doc in the meantime, unaware of Sunlight’s machinations, has decided to take a peaceful sojourn in the Central American Valley of the Vanished. He arrives to anything but a peaceful welcome — he is attacked and imprisoned, and then tortured by none other than the character most often linked to Doc Savage as a romantic interest: the Mayan Princess Monja.
Feigning his own death, Doc gets free, and discovers that John Sunlight has been to the Valley before him. Sunlight has used his persuasive powers to turn Monja against Doc. It’s an emotionally harrowing scene, as Monja’s steadfast devotion to Doc has been cruelly undermined — fueled by Doc’s own repeated (if well-intentioned and respectful) spurnings of the Mayan princess.
Hints are given about Sunlight’s even more devastating plans to come, and the chapter ends with Doc so distressed he displays rage — Sunlight has delivered some vicious blows, with worse to come.
to be continued…
2 thoughts on “Omnipresent Sunlight: Doc Savage’s archenemy – Part 6”
This doesn’t sound like either Sunlight or Doc to me. Sunlight manipulated people like a psychologist, not using torture techniques, for example. He was never shown to have actually brainwashed anyone.
Yes, every comic book presentation of Sunlight has had its own nuances on the nature of his villainous extremes — some of the more recent appearances veering quite far from his original pulp characterization. In that sense his many appearances in the comics since the late 1980’s don’t build in a cohesive arc. But I still find the interpretations fascinating. He is such a compelling character.