I love pulp comics. I’m a big fan of The Spirit in particular. I have most of the hardcover archive editions that DC put out a while ago and even managed to suffer through those First Wave reboot issues a few year back. The style and atmosphere of pulp comics appeal to me on more than a few levels. With that in mind, I have to admit that much of the current slate of pulp stories don’t truly work all that well. Having worked for a good long while in a comic book store I can attest to the fact that pulp fans are avid and loyal people but they are also basically begging for scraps in the current market. Mark Waid is doing great work with Green Hornet right now, and I’ve heard great things about both Shadow and Doc Savage, but in my personal opinion people are buying those books because of the talent involved or the name recognition associated with the character, not because those particular books are doing something new or inventive with the tropes or elements of the genre.
That’s why I love books like Doc Unknown by Fabian Rangel Jr. and Ryan Cody. In the same way that Atomic Robo looks at the genre and plays within those conventions to create something special, so too does Doc Unknown. It has the colorful and outlandish villains of The Shadow or Dick Tracy, mingled with the playful action of something like Bruce Timm’s Batman The Animated Series. Ryan Cody’s art perfectly matches Rangel’s dialog and exposition and creates a truly engrossing experience. It feels like a true pulp story, not a weak imitation. That is a true feat of talent because the last time I felt that way was probably the first time I read Darwyn Cooke’s take on The Spirit.
You can read the issues on Comixology or track down Rangel or Cody at a convention for print editions.