A persistent dream of most Doc Savage fans, I believe, would be to see stories that continued the iconic character’s saga beyond the 1949 end of the pulp magazine. The second half of the 20th century was virgin territory, as the copyright holders, Conde Nast, seemed to have no interest in telling the rest of the story of the bronze man’s life. They reprinted the whole pulp run in paperback, and toward the end of that second run through the canon, Will Murray also began writing “new” Doc Savage tales, and Philip José Farmer turned the clock back to the WWI era for a single novel…but again, the boundary never crossed was the year 1949. Murray’s work was in large part mined from unpublished Lester Dent story ideas, and Farmer’s was an extrapolation from his theories about Doc’s early experiences.
Comic books tried various updatings, but they were so inconsistent and contradictory it was hard to consider any of them “the real story”. What happened to Doc between ’49 and the end of the century? What was he like as an older man?
Enter Doc Brazen.
With the original character under firm copyright, author Jeff Deischer created a pastiche of Clark Savage, Jr. named Ulysses Brazen, Jr.
Brazen was indeed an embodiment of the classic Doc, but brought forward, plausibly aged, to the end of the century.
Two years ago Jeff talked about his creation, in a Forbidden Pulp post that can be read HERE. At that time, the series was just beginning…and I was entranced. All the names had been changed of course, but in every aspect that mattered, the first book of the series, Millennium Bug, was remarkably true to the history, style, characterization, and excitement of the original Doc Savage pulps. New, engaging characters had been brought on stage, but the old ones were remembered with the type of affection one gives to family. And Ulysses Brazen himself was a tonally perfect evocation of Doc as an older man.
I loved the book, loved that it was projected as a series…and was very afraid that it would be a one-shot wonder.
I needn’t have worried.
Much in the pulp scene has evolved over the past two years. Most notably, Doc Savage copyright holder Conde Nast has launched its own updating of the series at long last…and it was to my mind a resounding failure. The new series was a continuation in name only, with the spirit and vitality of the beloved pulp creation jettisoned in an effort to churn out a generic 21st century thriller. To me, that avenue for revisiting the joy of pulp-Doc took a bullet right to the heart. And Doc Brazen, now even more the “true Doc”, became more precious than ever.
There is not just one, two, or even just a few Brazen novels out in the world now…there are seven, with many more to come. And they have faithfully continued the promise of the first, offering strong, well-plotted and exciting pulp adventure…best of all, continuing to honor the legacy and spirit of what came before. Once again I have the joy of anticipating each new book in the “Doc” series, and when it arrives, revisiting the thrill I felt reading the original pulps.
That is something to be savored. As long as Jeff Deischer continues to write Doc Brazen tales, I’ll be adding them to my bookshelf, right at the end of the pulp run. 1949 isn’t a barrier that ends a dream anymore.
The Doc Brazen books can all be acquired HERE.
And here is a preview of what you can look forward to.
The world’s most famous crimefighter, scientist, and adventurer from the Thirties and Forties comes out of retirement after fifty years. Aided by a new group of aides, Oz and Noble, two young Aztec men; Robert Lafitte, a semi-reformed cat burglar; Thunderbird Crale, a female stunt pilot; and Henry Prevost, a computer scientist, Ulysses Brazen, Jr. returns to his career of righting wrongs and punishing evildoers.
Ulysses Brazen, Jr. finds a genius equal to his own at work with a plan to take control of the world without firing a shot.
The dead return to life to assassinate those who would disturb their peace and contentment. Who is behind this plot — and why?
When Oz and Noble come across the corpse of a young starlet in unusual circumstances, they feel compelled to investigate the murder. Who killed her and more importantly, why? What secrets do the Eleusinian Ministries hide, and what does the internet guru Jazz Phoenix have to do with EM’s Los Angeles Parthenon?
When Brazen’s Institute for the reformation of criminals is attacked, the question is not only who — but why? The trail leads to a ruthless mastermind who wants the Golden Man’s most private secrets!
When a tabloid reporter discovers Hell, no one believes him. Until a devil appears in New York City. Then Doc Brazen believes him, propelling him to solve a fifty year-old mystery.
A plea from a missionary whose brother disappeared in the Andes searching for lost Incan gold sends Doc Brazen and his aides to South America, where a mysterious man known as the White Jaguar haunts the jungle.
When one of Doc Brazen’s aides disappears during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, he races to the Crescent City to investigate! He finds that the Cat was kidnapped by zombies! And the wealthy elite of NOLA have fallen prey to the Deathmaster!
And coming later this month!
Doc Brazen and his aides are drawn into a mysterious web that leads to an uncharted island that gives power over the Atlantic Ocean to whoever controls it.