Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Doc Savage and Dirk Pitt

If I really got started discussing or even listing the characters who have been influenced by Lester Dent's classic protagonist Doc Savage, I would probably never finish. After all, Superman, another New Yorker named Clark of far more than ordinary human ability whose deceased father raised him from infancy for a life of world-saving heroism and periodically retreats to a Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic (yes, Dent uses the term, and near the beginning of the very first Savage adventure too), owes a very great deal to him--and we all know how much the rest of comics owes just to Superman.

Still, given how much I have written about Clive Cussler here it seems worth discussing Savage's influence on Cussler's creation, Dirk Pitt. Pitt lacks Savage's combination of omnicompetence and ultracompetence. I am not sure he can be regarded as a genius at any one thing, certainly not the more esoteric skills Savage possesses, let alone everything. (In fact, the only contemporary character I can think of as really comparable in that respect would be Martin Caidin's Doug Stavers.*)

All the same, Pitt shares the rootless, larger-than-life merry swashbuckler aspect of the character, and something of the dynamics among Savage's group is evident in Pitt's own inner circle as well, down to the ways they annoy each other. (Al Giordino's stealing Admiral Sandecker's cigars recalls for me Monk's relationship with Ham.) It is undoubtedly an important part of his appeal. And, I suppose, it is why he accepted the top post at NUMA, married Loren and began to lead a more settled existence as he passed the torch to the son he never knew he had--because his is a young man's game, and Cussler, despite seeming to play loose with Pitt's age, had him nonetheless age in the end.

* You may have noticed the initials--Doc Savage, Doug Stavers--are identical, while the first name is similar in ring, "Doug" the closest real name to "Doc" I can think of. And Caidin's lavish tributes to Doug's superhuman prowess are just as (unintentionally) funny as Dent's to his character. Still, Stavers is the very opposite of Savage's goodness, making him an awfully "Dark Messiah."

The Savage Doctor: Doc Savage
Doc Savage and Dirk Pitt
About That Doc Savage Movie
My Posts on Solo: A Star Wars Story
Now on Google Books . . . (Star Wars in Context: Second Edition)
Some of What I've Been Up to Lately (NYRSF, SSRN, Star Wars in Context: Second Edition)
Just Out . . . The End of Science Fiction?
Just Out . . . (The Many Lives and Deaths of James Bond, 2nd edition)
Just Out. . . (James Bond's Evolution)
Just Out . . . (The Forgotten James Bond)
My Posts on the Dirk Pitt Series
Dirk Pitt, an American James Bond?

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