Known for his art, J. G. Jones takes over the writing duties of “Doc Savage” with this month’s issue and his adoration of the character and his roots show through. After an involved story arc that was both personally motivating for Doc Savage and allowed a broader view of the “First Wave” world, Jones goes for a more basic adventure approach. It’s globetrotting and mummies for Doc and company, but that feels empty and without purpose. Things happen and characters move along their set path and there’s no reason to care except for it happening in “Doc Savage” #13 and that’s not a good enough reason.
There’s something comedic almost about Jones’s first big stab at writing featuring such grotesque, flat, ugly art. Qing Ping Mui’s style is one of incomprehensible perspectives and distorted heads with the idea that more lines mean more detail and stronger compositions. There’s a sheer incompetency in the way that he draws figures with child-like faces and heads that look like they were pressed on the page, and flattened, stretching them out in the process. More than that, every character features the same body, nothing setting Doc Savage, for example, apart from anyone else besides his haircut and extra-babyish face.
In a superficial manner, Jones’s writing adheres to the Doc Savage pulps with an adventure that spans the globe, a mummy to fight, and an evil group to stop. But, all that’s there is surface. Doc Savage isn’t so much a character as a human-like figure that goes through the intended motions of the plot. First, he fights the mummy and, then, he goes here, never expressing any thought except to advance the plot in the most direct fashion.
Savage’s associates bear the brunt of the issue and the efforts to keep it interesting and, there, Jones is more successful. He gets their personalities right and, on the surface, it seems fine, but, like the plot, there’s nothing beyond that. Monk getting us up to speed on the plot may have some personality quirks, but it’s still straight exposition that isn’t necessary. The framing device to recap the fight with the mummy adds extra words, it doesn’t make the narrative more interesting or entertaining.
After a strong arc by Ivan Brandon, Brian Azzarello, and Nic Klein, “Doc Savage” #13 is a big step down. Jones gets the details right, but not the feeling, while Qing Ping Mui’s art is a messy of lines and distorted perspectives and figures.