Dynamite Entertainment is taking its heroes to new places that seem familiar but different. Don’t call it an Elseworlds! This is Altered States!
Previously in Altered States: “In Altered States, the familiar becomes the unfamiliar and the known becomes the unknown. Heroes from across the ages are transported from the worlds and identities they recognize, to strange and terrifying new worlds and identities.”
DOC SAVAGE! DOC SAVAGE! HE’S A FRIEND TO ALL MANKIND!
(In hindsight this subhead makes more sense if you’ve seen the 1975 movie)
Adding that opening credit sequence from the movie is rather appropriate for this review, as the movie was a trippy experience in storytelling. In Altered States, our hero decides to get trippy by investigating what drives the primal man by indulging in a little ayahuasca. It’s all for science of course, and nothing bad could possibly go wrong. While we’ve seen the drug being used in other Dynamite books, Doc has a much different reaction than Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Instead of reflecting and experiencing his greatest fears, Doc turns savage (no pun intended) and sets off on a rampage through the grounds of the Crime College.
For a character that is always in control of every aspect of his life, seeing Doc on a rampage is really an interesting take on the character. The reflection on his experience after could shape the future of Doc Savage tales… or rather it SHOULD shape the future of Doc Savage tale. While I’ve never personally indulged in the drug, the point of consuming ayahuasca is to discover how to be the best person they can be by tapping into the true nature of the universe. I fear that any revelation experienced during his primal rampage are going to be forgotten once this one-shot hits the stands. This is especially true considering the closing encounter with John Sunlight and Doc’s surprise on how he handles the situation.
Overall, David Avallone gives readers an interesting story on what happens when Doc Savage isn’t the calm, cool, and collected hero we’ve come to love. It makes the character more human when he or she loses control, and I’m really hoping we’ll see further exploration of this experience in the future.
One of the side effects of consuming the drug in this issue (but not in real life) is that Doc not only feels like he is back during the time of the caveman, he physically transforms on the page. Artist David Acosta delivers fantastic art in this issue as he not only gives us a regular looking Doc savage, he also serves up a caveman version from pre-historic times, and a version that is somewhat in between. To put the cherry on top, Mr. Acosta makes sure that all versions of Doc Savage are instantly recognizable. Adding to the great character work in this issue are his renderings of the supporting cast. Everyone gets their own panel moment and save for keeping Renny Renwick’s hands out of site for the entire book, I rather enjoyed this take on the characters.
BOTTOM LINE: PICK IT UP!
While I expected an adaptation of the movie in pulp hero form going into this book, I was pleasantly surprised on how the story turned out. The savage nature of the Man of Bronze, the methods and dangers his team undertake, and seeing Pat Savage take charge made this a very entertaining story. While major revelations on the nature of man weren’t revealed outright, there is enough reading between the lines that can occur to engage in a lengthy conversation at eh comic book shop. The art was really good and I like the look of all of the characters in this issue. I would like to see this event have repercussions in future issues, but I’m okay if they don’t. If you have always wandered what would happen if Doc Savage lost control, then this is the book to pick up. And if you are a Doc Savage fan, then you really should pick this issue up when it arrives in stores on March 18, 2015.