By Shannon Eric Denton, Roberto Castro & Inlight Studios
Annuals are a tricky beast. As they’ve become more frequent, there are two common approaches. First, they can serve as a continuation of a story being told in the monthly book (see DC’s Green Lantern series), or second, they are a one-shot story, giving us something not so heavily bound by continuity. This idea presents a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. Some fans clamor for these one shots, yet others are drawn to universal continuity. Here, we see a bit of both. A story filling in between the pages of what we see in a monthly book.
Shannon Eric Denton pens a journey that nicely delves into the inner workings of Doc Savage. The tale takes us from the 1930s back through an incident in World War I. Doc Savage, while being nearly indestructible, is filled with inherent imperfections. This is the focus of the odyssey Denton takes us on. We see an introspection of how the protagonist’s faults are balanced with his exterior and physical perfection. This is all well done, until we reach the final act. Here, the story frays a bit, relying too much on happenstance and coincidence.
The visuals here, while sometimes superb, vary with inconsistencies. Mostly, they serve as a strength of the book, but some of Roberto Castro’s renditions are off, not quite matching the dialogue on the page. While this can be distracting, it’s not a death knell for the book. The colors, by Inlight Studios, redeem the inconsistent pencils. As a visual component, the colors are perfect. Muted tones contrasted with bright pops bring the Man of Bronze to life.
As an annual, we get a nice one-and-done story investigating the inner workings of the titular hero. The story is heartfelt, a bit clichéd, but adventurous. The plot is strong, and the art is as well. There are some weak moments, especially inconsistencies in the line work, yet the final product is still quite good.