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Altered States: Doc Savage Review

4 min read

Doc Savage Altered States CoverSavage goes the distance to understand man.

Creative Staff:
Story: David Avallone
Art: Dave Acosta

What They Say:
Welcome to Altered States… Dynamite Entertainment’s parallel reality in the vein of DC’s Elseworlds and Marvel’s What If! Doc’s research into the criminal inside all men backfires… and his own experiment reduces him to a mindless primitive. When the most powerful man in the world is turned into a rampaging beast, can you stop him without killing him?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With a couple of Altered States books out so far, the third installment of it takes us to the world of Doc Savage. I had gotten reacquainted with the character after many, many years away back at the end of last year through an oversized story that focused more on Patricia. With Altered States, it’s all about Doc himself here, which is definitely good as we get a different kind of view of him. While it changes up what Doc is and keeps it in the same time period, it also feels like the other Altered States book in that it’s an opportunity lost. With the ability to supposedly reimagine the character in a whole new light, I would have far more been interested in seeing a version of him in some other period or setting rather than just a twist on what was.

The general idea here is one that makes a certain amount of comic book/pulp sense as we have Doc looking to find a way to help humanity get past its worst elements, its inhumanity. The idea is that through a little creative science, he’s found a way to get his mind back into its most primal form so as to understand why it acts like it does as it’s a part of our core makeup, psychology and DNA. It’s the risky kind of thing that you can see someone doing in pursuit of doing things to better mankind, but at least we get enough of the supporting cast talking about how this may not be the best of ideas. We get the fun of seeing the old school science being applied here and being so carefully watched by his friends as he undergoes it, but that’s pretty much just the bookends to the book. The meat of the book is what happens when he does get the injection.

And that essentially gives us a watered down Hulk story. Split between two views of how things unfold, in one we see the world that Doc sees. In his primal mindset mode, he sees the world as nothing more than landscapes and enemies with a very purple/red filter, making it easier for him to attack everything in sight. It makes for a jarring view of the world but it provides the reason why fight or flight is so instilled in man. Balancing that, we see him doing the same exact thing in what the real world is like, as we see him acting out what he’s thinking he’s seeing and attacking friends and strangers alike while using heightened strength and skills that allows him to elude those trying to restrain him until the process wears off. Of course, there’s a trick to that, but it doesn’t really leave me feeling like I want to see more of this so it rings a bit hollow by the end.

In Summary:
While I’ve wanted to dabble in the world of Doc Savage more, I admit that going into an Altered States book has me wanting to see something different in a re-imagining of the character. This book does do that, but in a light kind of way as it’s more about changing part of who he is for the moment rather than a full on re-imagining. This is almost like a mild superhero origin story in a way, albeit one that goes wrong, but even there it doesn’t have any real weight or heft to it. There’s some fun visual representations going on with it here with how Doc views the world when the experiment kicks off, but after that it doesn’t really do much but go with the action and little more. It has its own morals to deal with in a simple way, but that can carry something like this only so far.

Grade: C

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: March 18th, 2015
MSRP: $3.99

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