This comic makes a lot of 'to do' about Doc Savage. But who is he?
Doc Savage is a pulp fiction hero from the 30s and 40s. He's built up enough of a fanbase to survive the decades which have wrought him. In my mind's eye, I place him with other "old" heroes like the Shadow. One of his biggest fans, it turns out, is one Benjamin J. Grimm. Needless to say, in the world of Marvel, Doc Savage isn't a "fictional pulp hero" - he's a flesh and blood one, albeit one who existed a generation before the Thing.
Doc Savage strikes me as a Captain America without the super soldier serum. Instead of "popping a pill", so to speak, Doc Savage was trained from birth to be the acme of human perfection. That's pretty much all aspects, from the physical to the mental to the emotional, you name it, Doc Savage was raised to be the perfect man. Also known as the Man of Bronze because of the coloring of his skin (I have no idea why his skin is bronze - I'm assuming its an artificial effect and not simple tanning). Anyway, he literally goes about doing good. A bit of a boy scout, just like the Captain. His base of operations is the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. And he has a small group of trusted "henchmen".
For the first few pages, the story starts with an interesting panel layout represented by these two panels:
The left side of the page tells of events in the 70s and the right side has events in the 40s. Both vertically parallel panels culminate with this shot.
The device is not a telescope but an energy siphon. Able to absorb "stellar energy". Both devices have been made by a father and son team - the Lightners. To the right, the father created the design and makes the first prototype. To the left the son, recreates his fathers invention. Both men aim to imbue themselves with so-called stellar energy.
In 1970s New York, the Thing, with Johnny Storm in tow, rushes to the sight of this experiment. The Fantasticar panel is eye-catching.
With the pair is the current Lightner's sister.
Back in the 40s, Doc Savage too is rushing to the place of "his Lightner" using a modified helicopter.
While the Thing's group and Doc Savage's crew are in transit, the Lightners activate their machines. There is a terrible explosion and this:
This panel shows two key things. One, everybody has lost their respective flying vehicles and are falling from the sky. Two, Doc Savage and his crew have been snatched in time and have found themselves in 1970s New York. Ben should be so delighted (and he would be).
Here's another very interesting panel for us Thing fans.
Everybody from Doc Savage's side has a parachute. The Torch can fly and he saves Miss Lightner. Ben can't fly and has no chute and nobody is available to save him.
Things seem to come in twos today because, again, I like two things about the two panels above. First, I'm elated that the Thing is so tough that a fall from flying height is nothing to him. Second, Doc Savage really lives up to his billing as an "advanced" human being as evidenced by his automatic acceptance of Ben as a fellow human being despite Ben's appearance. Bravo, I'm a Doc Savage fan.
In the midst of all these "picking up and dusting off", a being known as Blacksun literally explodes into the scene.
Blacksun is an amalgam. A combination being composed of The elder and younger Lightner - joined together across time. This fused creature is the first such being to be featured in Marvel Two-In-One, the second being the space-faring Starhawk in the Thing's adventure with the High Evolutionary. The most famous one is DC's Firestorm.
So Blacksun is powered by stellar energy, which I assume is the energy of stars or the light of stars. Now I'm wondering why this creature is black. There was mention of waiting for the occurrence of a black hole near Earth. Since black holes are birthed from collapsed super giants, I suppose energy from a black hole could also be considered "stellar".
The black hole theory seems to be borne out by this:
Blacksun is able to bend bullets around him. Black holes are supposed to have so much gravity that they're able to bend light.
Ben attempts his tried and true formula.
To no avail.
Now for Doc Savage.
That went by so fast it was easy to miss. Doc Savage didn't only come in with physical might. He'a also analyzing the situation, pointing to the strange correlation between cloud cover and Black Sun's powers - ergo Doc Savage times his punch just so to get around Blacksun's defenses.
In the end, this foe proves to be too powerful. So, like Braggadoom a few stories back, Blacksun pretty much overloads on his own might and collapses on the ground. In the meantime, Doc Savage and his team "vanish" back to the 40s.
Now for the strangest - and clunkiest - twist in this story. Blacksun is lying on the ground and his condition is critical.
In comes the Human Torch with a baffling solution.
Let me get this straight. Citing 'cryogenics', Johnny increases the heat around Blacksun to prevent further deterioration? Wouldn't this effectively fry Blacksun to a crisp? Anyway, the story goes on the assumption that Johnny's little stunt does actually stabilize Lightner. We have no choice, let's ride along. But not without me giving my two cents. With 'cryogenics' as the key word, wouldn't it have been much better for the Torch to simply absorb all the heat from Blacksun's body effectively "freezing" him to a stable state? That, in my mind, would have made more sense.
Anyway, Blacksun needs a doctor, so off they go to find Dr. Donald Blake.