The next appearance of John Sunlight in a comic book story was a very unique one, as it was a pastiche, rather than an “authorized” Doc Savage property. And it was in a series whose original creator, the late great Dave Stevens, was an enthusiastic Doc fan. He created the popular Rocketeer series. Stevens passed away from leukemia in 2008, but in 2012 a new story with his Rocketeer character appeared, called “Cargo of Doom”, by writer Mark Waid, and artist Chris Samnee. It was collected into a trade paperpack by IDW Publishing in 2013. The villain? It was this guy, who looks quite familiar.
Before exploring the details of the story, a quick look back at why I noted that Rocketeer creator Stevens was a fan of Doc Savage…recognize these two fellows from a fun page in the original run of Rocketeer comics?
Monk and Ham (who are never directly named in the story — Monk is called “Colonel Mayberg”) play a pretty large role in the tale, and it is a delightful rendering of the two classic Doc aides. Also appearing in the story is this guy…
Yes, that’s Doc himself…like Monk and Ham, never referred to by name in the story (the Rocketeer’s colleague, in the page with Monk and Ham, thinks he is Howard Hughes, which gives the two aides a good chuckle)…but of course we know better. Under that futuristic flying helmet is none other than Clark Savage, Jr.
The rocket pack used by Cliff Secord (the Rocketeer) was actually an experimental device stolen from Doc (more or less innocently acquired by Secord). Hmmm…wasn’t there someone else who once stole dangerous experimental devices from Doc Savage?
Anyway, returning to Sunlight, he did not appear in any stories by Stevens, but the Waid/Samnee story places him prominently at center stage. As with the earlier Doc Savage characters, he is never directly named (referred to as “the Master”), but from one glance there is no doubt who this is.
The cargo Sunlight has come to inspect is from quite a notable location…Skull Island. That should also ring a bell to followers of 1930’s adventure film.
There is mystery and chaos aboard the ship, and as Sunlight takes control of matters, he learns about the Rocketeer, and takes a distinct interest in someone who possesses technology created by Doc.
While conferring with a criminal ally, Sunlight hears horrific sounds from deeper in the ship, which he investigates. What ensues is a desperate, violent encounter in the dark hold, with something taken from Skull Island.
Sunlight prevails, but is not happy about the incident…nevertheless, he will shortly proceed with his intended acquisition of Doc Savage’s rocket pack from its current owner…the Rocketeer.
to be continued…