A couple of weeks ago, DC published the first issue of a new Doc Savage series by writer Paul Malmont and artist Howard Porter. It was Malmont's first comics work, his previous writing credits being the novel The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril. Porter on the other hand is a well known comics pro who has worked on both Flash and Grant Morrison's Justice League.
So - how was the first issue received by the critics? Not so well it seems...
Doc Savage falls flat on his face in the debut of his first DC ongoing.... I'll leave all subsequent issues of this new ongoing on the stands next to all the other poorly crafted comics I'm not buying. 4.3 out of 10.
From Broken Frontier:
...an overall sub-par offering that fails to live up to the exotic perils and strange adventures that so typified the pulp era.
The one common theme in the bad reviews is Porter's art.
Worse is the art of Porter, which is wildly inconsistent throughout the issue. One of Savage’s associates, Remy, is meant to be so ugly that it causes one of the boys to react in disgust, but Remy’s face doesn’t look any uglier than the faces of the other characters. Eyes move around faces at random, heads change shape, and limbs grow and shrink from panel to panel. Porter has always been an artist that can be counted on for energy, but his art here is flat with awkward poses and unclear storytelling.
My thought on the art is similar to what the guys at iFanboy and The Comic Book Page podcasts said - what appeared on the cover is what the interior of the book should have looked like.
If you are pitching a comic to fans of a character (and I'm guessing that's the logic here right?) and there is a well established look for this character, then isn't it a misstep to not use that look and feel? Judging by the reviews, I'd say the answer is "yes."
Judge for yourself (panels from issue 1)
Note: the anatomy in the panel below isn't as bad as it is in the rest of the comic. The action just seems awkward. Are those flames coming from Docs fingers? What exactly is igniting? It may be the colorists fault.
In summation - I think Porter works well with a writer like Grant Morrison, whose stories already have a quasi surreal element to them, or for a larger than life cast of characters like the Flash's Rogues Gallery, but for a comic that was supposed to harken back to a pulp era - or at least trade on that appeal -I don't think this was a good match. This was not a great way to start the series.
I predict this new Doc Savage gets cancelled in less than a year.