Doc Savage, Cave Man – David Avallone Talks Altered States: Doc Savage

Part of Dynamite's new line of Altered States titles will be a one-shot starring Doc Savage by David Avallone. Byron Brewer caught up with Avallone to talk about this alternate reality version of the Man of Bronze.

AlteredSavageCovATanBYRON BREWER: David, there are a lot of stories taking place in alternate realities these days. How do you handle this unique storytelling device and yet remain true to a character (in your case, Doc Savage) and keep the story of import enough to involve the reader?

DAVID AVALLONE: Hard to answer this one without spoilers, but… in this particular case, the reality is altered in only one sense: Doc makes a decision, and there are consequences. Everything else is the same, it's just those consequences that place us in an alternate reality. The decision is grounded firmly in Doc's character and his ideals and goals. I think once the story kicks off the reader will be involved because you don't think about alternate realities when you're engaged in an exciting story.  (Should I say "yarn"?  Lester Dent would probably have said yarn. Philip Jose Farmer would say "super-saga", of course.)

BB: Were you a fan of Doc Savage before this altered version of the character? And where does the Altered States Doc differ from the familiar Man of Bronze character (prior to the experiment gone wrong, of course)?

DA: My dad, Michael Avallone – who was also a pulp writer – grew up in the 1930s on Doc Savage. Doc and The Spider were his favorites. When I was a little kid, in the 1970s, Dad got all the Doc Savage Bantam paperbacks with the great James Bama covers. Even before I read them, those covers were incredibly compelling and they had a big impact on me. Later I opened one up and read it, and loved it.  As for Altered States…  Doc starts out as the Doc you know and love.

BB: Doc Savage plays Doc Banner in this story and effectively "hulks out," eh? That will be interesting to see since Doc has always been more Reed Richards that Superman. Any "Hulk" humor about in this script?

DA: I think he's more Cave-Doc than Hulk, but with this kind of story you're always in Hulk territory.

BB: Drawing Doc as a primitive, I would think, would either be a great pleasure or pain depending on how the artist loves big action panels. In your opinion, how has artist Dave Acosta handled your script?

DA: Dave's art is amazing: I worried my script was a little over-stuffed but he's managed to keep the action clear and exciting. He did complain that I "made" him watch Clash of the Cavemen for Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon reference… but really that was his idea. All kidding aside, I hope I get to do another book with him soon: I'm really loving his work.

BB: The ancient story device of freeing a man's "savage beast" has always had a curious interest for me. Take Jekyll and Hyde, for example. How did you come to interpret this dark (albeit brainless) side of Doc Savage?

DA: I think that's open to interpretation. Is Pleistocene Doc more cunning and resourceful than the average savage, or is he the Caveman of Bronze?

BB: Finally, will there be any heroes coming against Doc (besides his usual allies)? Perhaps some other residents of Pulp-dom?

DA: I would have loved to throw a few of my favorites in there (give me a G-8 comic book, somebody), but with only twenty pages to play with I had more than enough fun and games with the Fabulous Five and Pat Savage. That said, the story ends with a cameo from an old fiend.

For more on Altered States: Doc Savage, click here.

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About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.
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