Saturday, November 14, 2009

Detectives, Batman & Doc Savage - Reading Comics & Old Time Radio

Instead of posting two separate entries I figured that I would combine two shorter pieces.

I had meant to write about a recent OTR (Old Time Radio, for those unfamiliar with the term) set to which I had been listening, but got sidelined with some other things. Naturally, I misplaced the written notes so will have to go from memory. has produced a series of OTR sets consisting of several episodes of various programs under a theme. These include westerns, comedies, espionage and detectives, along with sets with multiple episodes of particular series. If you enjoy OTR as much as I do, you should check out their site (the link is included just above). The one I just finished was Old Time Radio Shows – Detectives (20-CD). Among them are NERO WOLFE (starring Sidney Greenstreet); RICHARD DIAMOND (Dick Powell); PAT NOVAK FOR HIRE & JEFF REGAN INVESTIGATOR (Jack Webb) and LET GEORGE DO IT (with Bob Bailey). This last one was new to me, having heard at least a couple of episodes of the nine other programs. Bailey plays a freelance detective whose classified ad brings him an assortment of unusual and generally deadly cases. As with Webb always making me think of his Sgt. Friday character whenever I hear him, Bailey is immediately identified in my mind with YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR. Bailey's Johnny Dollar was the only OTR program of which I have a strong memory. The program was broadcast on Sunday evening and when we would visit my grandmother, my dad would let me go sit in the car and listen to the show while the rest of the family began clearing up from the meal. I felt pretty grown up being given the keys to the car and trusted to start it up so I could play the radio. Bailey's voice is the one that comes to mind whenever I think about those shows.

BATMAN/DOC SAVAGE SPECIAL #1 is a one-shot from DC that acts as prelude to THE FIRST WAVE mini-series that begins in March 2010. Having gotten the rights to Doc Savage & The Avenger, DC has given them over to Brian Azzarello to play with. At the back of the book, Azzarello talks briefly about the series, along with character sketches by Rags Morales, who will be doing art on the series. Along with Doc, First Wave will also bring in a new generation of BLACKHAWKS, a new BLACK CANARY and a different RIMA THE JUNGLE GIRL. Add to this THE SPIRIT, who in this world is accompanied by a female Ebony White. Sounds pretty interesting, doesn't it?

The special brings together only the two major characters, but does drop some hints about an organization called the Golden Tree that will play a central part in the mini-series. Since there was no Golden Age Batman in current continuity, it doesn't seem clear if this is an alternate Earth introduced in 52 or something completely new. It is a strange place where airships co-exist with television and cellphones. Bruce mentions in some internal dialogue talking to someone 'during the war', but it is not clear which war this might have been. My initial reaction was that this might be the Batman we saw in JSA: LIBERTY FILES, but that was a more experienced and brutal Bats than we see here. Looks like a whole new Earth that will mix together new and different versions of some old favorites. I'm already going to tell Kenny at Nuclear Comics to add it to my list when he orders.
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