Supergirl is a hit! Thanks (again), Doc Savage

Supergirl is a hit! Thanks (again), Doc Savage

The new Supergirl series on CBS debuted to strong ratings. While a pilot does not a staple make, it appears that Greg Berlanti will again demonstrate expertise in bringing DC Comics to television (if not to the big screen…see Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern).

It certainly looks to be a bigger relative hit than the

1984 movie version (a AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

starring Helen Slater (who has a role in the new series).

There is a lot of discussion about how this is the first TV series in some time to have a female superhero as the lead, and that’s understandable.

Where did Supergirl, as a character, come from?

Perhaps the same place Superman, as a character, did…the fertile mind of Lester Dent, who wrote the pulp series Doc Savage.

Oh, that’s not official, of course, and I’m not blaming anybody for anything…just pointing out some…similarities. 😉

I’ve remarked before about how Superman appears to have some of the same data points as Doc Savage…and Doc (who was a very popular character) had them first.

Doc was introduced in 1933, Superman in 1938.

Doc’s first name was Clark; Superman’s first name was Clark.

Doc was the Man of Bronze; Superman was the Man of Steel.

Doc had a Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic Circle (while hinted at from the beginning, it solidifies in 1938, even being the title of one of the adventures); Superman had a Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic Circle (the name appears in 1949, but the one we really know starts in 1958).

The two characters certainly had vast differences, and as Superman incorporated additional elements over time (including flight, which wasn’t there from the beginning…see When Superman wasn’t so super), they became even more different.

Doc Savage is a human being, and his superiority over the average person is largely earned: Doc’s father wanted to turn him into a “superman” (a term reportedly used in Doc Savage advertisements: UPDATE: here’s a link to what appears to be a reproduction of that ad: The Pulp Net), and Doc continued striving for that goal throughout his life. That included a regular routine of exercises: not just physical, but mental.

Superman was super…due to environmental issues, being an alien benefiting from Terran conditions.

However, Doc also clearly had good genetics…and one of the clearest pieces of evidence for that is Doc’s blond** female cousin, Patricia (“Pat”) Savage.

Introduced less than a year after Doc himself, Pat is a worthy member of Doc’s team of do-gooders…or would be, if Doc would allow her to be.

Pat is physically superior, smart, and brave.

Eventually, even Doc comes to recognize that.

She appears in close to 40 of the original 181 adventures…even starring in one.

So…Doc has a blond, female cousin (introduced in 1934’s The Brand of the Werewolf); Superman has a blond, female cousin, introduced in 1959. Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s about the same time that the Fortress of Solitude is defined in Superman: maybe somebody was looking back at Doc Savage at that point, to find new ideas for Superman…or maybe it’s all a coincidence. 🙂

A new Doc Savage movie (with Shane Black involved) has been in development for several years. I’ve thought that a Pat Savage TV series could work well. It wouldn’t be like Supergirl: there really are “no flights, no tights” (a reported rule for the Smallville TV series) for Pat Savage, nor would there ever be. There would be some similarities with TV’s Agent Carter: a period piece with a strong female lead, dealing with the attitudes of society.

However, it wouldn’t be bound up with all the Marvel mythology. Stories could largely be stand-alone.

There is a precedent in the recent

Doc Savage Special: Woman of Bronze (at AmazonSmile*)

written by David Walker, although it certainly wouldn’t need to be an adaptation of that.

I can see this being a way for Amazon to get into the original “superhero” series game, even though Pat technically isn’t a superhero…in the same way that Batman isn’t. Pat Savage might attract people who aren’t comic book fans, while still having a name draw for geeks, with an occasional appearance by her famous cousin (and more appearances by Monk, Ham…and I would think Long Tom ((a prototype tech wizard/socially inept sidekick character)), at least).

So, welcome to small screen success, Supergirl…and thanks, Doc…er, Pat Savage!

** Reader Al reasonably points out that Pat’s hair is described as bronze…which, arguably, is not blond. See the comments section. Thanks, Al!

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

3 Responses to “Supergirl is a hit! Thanks (again), Doc Savage”

  1. Round up #311: Orwell, Open Road | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Supergirl is a hit! Thanks (again), Doc Savage […]

  2. Al Says:

    Pat’s hair is bronze and her eyes gold but not gold-flaked like Doc’s.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Al!

      Absolutely right. You’ve probably seen illustrations and descriptions of Pat: given the three common descriptors of hair color, would you describe her as blonde, brunette, or redhead?

      The first description is this:

      “She had a wealth of bronze hair–hair very closely akin in hue to that of Doc Savage.”

      I suppose one could argue that her hair is brunette: I will concede that point. 😉 It’s always looked more blonde to me when it’s been illustrated, even in earlier illustrations. Sort of like the way they went with blond for Ron Ely’s Doc Savage…no that I’m arguing that a faithful adaptation. 🙂

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