Saturday, July 28, 2007

Doc Savage and the Mount Shasta Conspiracy

During the 1930s, Doc Savage came into conflict with many villains who possessed highly advanced technologies. In "The Monsters" it was a formula that could turn men into giants. In"The Midas Man" it was a device that could read minds. There was a teleportation device in "The Vanisher" and an invisibility machine in "Spook Legion". And let's not forget the super-sonic spherical anti-gravity ships from "The Secret in the Sky". And there was the laser and cold fusion technology from "Cold Death

Most of these technologies still remain unavailable to us even in the early 21st Century. How did these "mad scientists" develop them in the 1930s? I used to be very puzzled about this until Bantam republished the July 1937 story "He Could Stop the World" in November 1970.

In this story, a criminal genius (identified as scientist Professor Homer Randolph) harnessed atomic power and utilized virtually every technology we mentioned above from the other Super Sagas -- and several more -- including making 10 ft giant hillbillies who catch and eat 10 ft giant trout. There is an assortment of giant flora and fauna scattered around the base of Mount Shasta, California. On top of the mountain, the villains set up a high-tech city as a base from which to rule the world. But Doc Savage intervenes and stops them. Inthe process, he causes the city to self-destruct.

So it now became obvious. All along, Doc had not been fighting separate mad scientists. He had been fighting people who had either been a part of this conspiracy or who had broken away from it.

In consulting my sources, I have discovered that this cabal of scientists subsequently became known in the FBI's "Bizarre Unexplained Cases Files" (renamed "The X-Files" by Agents Arthur Dales and Hayes Michel in the 1950s) as "The Mount Shasta Conspiracy". Many of them were identified but never found, including Homer Randolph himself. The few whom they could find had had their minds "wiped" by some of the mind control devices that the Conspiracy had used on others and were unable to provide any details.

After the destruction of the high-tech city on top of the mountain, the US Army scoured through the wreckage and took several truck-loads of material out to an isolated location on US Government lands in Nevada. A secret laboratory had been established there to study materials recovered from a great undersea metropolis located below Devil's Reef just off the coast of Innsmouth, Massachusetts. The US Navy had torpedoed the city in 1928. (See the H. P. Lovecraft story "The Shadow Over Innsmouth".)

This area in Nevada became the site chosen to analyze the debris from California. This site would later be known as the S-4 Site which is just over the hill from Area 51. Surprisingly little was learned from the debris because the technology was so utterly advanced. Since then, though, as our own technology has progressed, these studies have jump-started several technological fields including the laser, the personal computer, printed circuit boards, Quantum computing, and various sensors.

What few giant plants, animals, and humans survived the destruction of the city all died rather quickly afterwards while in government custody. They apparently needed a continuous supply of special medications and nutrients to survive and with the fall of the city, there was no longer any source of them.

Early on, the scientists concluded that the Mount Shasta Conspiracy had advanced technological information that was outside the mainstream of terrestrial knowledge. The government investigators considered an extraterrestrial source for the technology but found only disparate tidbits which led them ultimately to discount this. (It seems that the Aegis and/or the Eridanians and Capellans had covered their tracks well.) In any case, it was the Mount Shasta Conspiracy investigation that marked the beginning of US Government investigation into the possibility of an extraterrestrial presence on Earth.

Mount Shasta (Right) and Shastina (Left

Mount Shasta and its immediate neighbor Shastina are two dormant volcanoes in the Cascade Mountain range in California. Mount Shasta is the larger of the two. These are the two peaks which are depicted in the cover James Bama did for the Bantam reprint. Mount Shasta had long been a site that attracted mystics and occultists since the 19th Century and its reputation just grew after the events there in the 1937. In fact, in recent decades it has also been a center of interest for UFO enthusiasts.

The US Government never did identify the source of the technological information used by the Conspiracy. For several decades, it had suspected that there had been a prehistoric human -- or pre-human -- civilization that had left weird artifacts scattered throughout the Western United States. The Government had collected these objects and kept them under high security lock and key. There had also been reports of similar findings on other continents, the Polynesean Islands, and in Mexico and Canada.

My sources tell me that Doc Savage did his own investigation which included a debriefing of Professor Randaolph and his surviving aides. Doc concluded that the ultimate source of the Conspiracy's technology was TAZ, the sunken city that he had investigated in the Super Saga "The Mystery Under the Sea." Doc and his father had also found a cache of information (later identitifed as coming from TAZ) in The Valley of the Vanished stored insidee the strange pre-Mayan temple described in "The Bridge of Light". Doc kept his conclusions secret from the US Government and made sure that the released memebers of the conspiracy could provide them with no information.

But what was the actual source of the technology that Prof. Randolph had found? It apparently was not TAZ itself since its location had been kept secret and Doc Savage found that Randolph knew nothing about it. Dr. Randolph stated that in his stratospheric ship the Silver Cylinder he had done high altitude surveillance and had located an unusual site high in the Andes Mountains. It was a location that was clearly visible from a very high altitude (>30 miles up) but not detectable from the ground. Obviously it was intended to be found only by a technologically advanced society with high altitude flight capability. This was similar to the Nazca lines in Peru which depict huge animals drawings that can only be seen from the air. The cache contained a treasure trove of carved tablets like those found at TAZ along with numerous sample devices. It was a virtual museum of ancient technology.

It also included a detailed history of the TAZ civilization and indicated that a massive natural catastrophe had occurred which caused TAZ to sink into the ocean over 10,000 years ago. This coincided with the end of the last Ice Age at which point millions of cubic miles of glaciated ice melted raising the sea level dramatically. It was accompanied by a major crustal shift and disruption of the Earth's magnetic field. A large land mass around the Azores which partially straddled the Mid-Atlantic Ridge became covered over with water. This may have been the source of the Atlantis legend.

Several colonies from TAZ established themselves in protected locations. One group fled deep under the crust inside a bubble of dense pseudo-matter. This sounds like the civilization of Subterranae that Doc encountered in "Murder Melody". Three attempts were made to build an underground cavern in the far north with a volcanic pseudo-sun. Only one was completed and this appears to be the land that Doc visited in "The Other World." The second project decided to use multiple light projectors instead and is located somewhere under Greenland. This group may have been the one Doc discovered in "The Monarch of Armageddon" in the Millennium Comic series. The other project could not be competed on time and so the inhabitants had to adjust to living in constant darkness. This seems to have been the civilization from "The Land of Always Night." There were many other details about the Earth's past, but my sources refused to comment further.

According to their records, the TAZ civilization shunned Antarctica because of its associations with "The Elder Things" and avoided Australia because it was haunted by the ghosts of "The Great Race" and their adversaries the floating horrors". It also mentioned an island continent in the Southern Pacific Ocean (Lemuria) which was a remnant of an older continental mass (Mu). All of this was covered by the rising oceans and the crustal displacement @10,000 years ago.

The location of the Andes cache is now known only to Dr. Randolph and Doc Savage. At Doc's request, the site has been disguised so that it can no longer be located from the air.

I asked my sources if any other such sites were found on mountains elsewhere in the world, but, again, they declined to comment.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sun Koh and his Crew

The Nazi pulp übermensch, Sun Koh did not travel alone. Like Doc Savage, Sun Koh had his own crew of aides. Their number changed from time to time, but I have been able to piece together some of the Aryan warrior types that assisted Sun Koh on his adventures.

Sun Koh : Six foot six, well muscled, blond haired, blue eyed, bronzed skinned, and highly intelligent, Sun Koh was the last prince of Atlantis sent forward in time to prepare for the return of the Lost Continent before the coming Ice Age. (So much for global warming!) He had a tattoo on his back and left side which depicted Atlantis. His powers were mirror images of Doc Savage's. Sun Koh was also a "Man of Destiny" who had incredible luck in everything he did. He also had a "Danger Sense" that gave him a premonition of any threat to his person. He usually wore Jodhpurs, calf-high boots, and a military shirt with epaulets and pleated buttoned down pockets.

Map of Atlantis

Ashanti Garuda: (aka "The Daughter of Kali") Ashanti is the mistress and chief assassin of Sun Koh. Her nick name is Shani. She is a true Aryan from India who has mastered all forms of Yoga, Ayurvedic/Unani/Siddha medicine, Indian Mysticism, Sorcery, Alchemy, Kalaripayit, Marma Adi, Silambam, Varma Kalari, and other Indian martial arts. Her true age is unknown but she appears to be in her twenties thanks to her Ayurvedic Elixir of Life. She is a devotee of Kali and of the Left Hand Path of Tantra who has vowed eternal hatred on the British for oppressing her people. The six powers granted to her by Kali are pacifying (glamour, seduction), subjugating (hypnosis, sexual obsession), paralysing (pressure points), obstructing (grappling and throws), driving away (breaking kicks and punches), and death-dealing (strangulation, death blows, death points). Ashanti has a berserker attack that uses all four extremities and her head which is utterly devastating. She wears different colored Spider-web silk Saris that are light and airy and do not impede her leg movements but which can stop a pistol bullet or a knife. She has a blood red oval tikala mark on her forehead with a golden Swastika in the middle to honor Kali. She also has 12 swastikas tattooed on her body to protect her from harm (i.e., on the soles of her feet, the palms of her hands, inside of her thighs, the inner side of her arms, the outsides of her buttocks, and the lateral sides of her breasts). She has a pet miniature Golden Spitting Cobra with green eyes named Shakti that she wears as a bracelet entwined around her right upper arm or forearm. The snake remains still and appears to be just a bracelet until Shani awakens it. The snake can spit venom precisely from a dozen feet away on Ashanti's command to temporarliy blind an opponent. It's bite though is quite deadly.

Alaska-Jim : Jim Hoover, aka "Alaska-Jim," was a hunter and trapper in the Old West who also worked for the Canadian police. He was an associate of Sun Koh and was known for his riding, roping, and shooting skills. Jim was a giant mountain man with the ferocity and fighting prowess of Jeremiah Johnson. He was a Canadian of German descent who lived in the Yukon. He was one of the first of Sun Koh's associates. Jim always dressed in furs or Buckskins and wore a coonskin cap with a striped tail.

Jan Mayen : Jan Mayen was a detective-inventor-adventurer who flew around the world in an atomic-powered aircraft. He had adventures on every continent. He was like Captain Nemo in having advanced technology at his finger tips. He dressed in the uniform of an airplane captain with a round service cap.

Sturmvögel : (Storm Bird) Rudolf Rauhaar, aka Rolf Kraft, aka Sturmvögel was an associate of Alaska-Jim. Sturmvögel was seven feet tall and a well trained paratrooper, commando, and soldier in the manner of Rambo. While he had many adventures in the American and Canadian west, he also could handle himself in Jungle and desert terrain. He combined stealth with strength, speed, and lethality. He usually wore black fatigues and combat boots with either a German infantry helmet or an alpine military hat. He was the quintessential Storm Trooper.

Rolf Karsten : Rolf Karsten was a consulting detective and was known as , der Schrecken der Berliner Unterwelt (The Terror of the Berlin Underworld) or Schreck for short.. This was a private detective with edge who could match wits with urban criminals and who had no limits to what he would do to solve a case. Good with his fists and fast with a gun or a knife. Also an astute judge of human nature and human vices. He wore cheap suits with a small brimmed hat and was constantly smoking a cigarette. Sun Koh eventually used hypnosis on him to get him to quit smoking.

Minx : Ludwig Minx was a man of mystery: a ghost hunter, ghost breaker, and professional magician who usually wore a Top Hat, a tuxedo, a collared cape, a large wand/cane, and a goatee. He not only dealt with fantastic mysteries but more mundane ones as well. He possessed a wide range of mental powers, including hypnosis, telepathy, psychometry, and levitation. He was an expert in all forms of prestidigitation, and there was no phenomenon of somnambulism, of telepathy, of `telepsychics,' of levitation, hypnotism, magnetism, suggestion, and autosuggestion that was beyond him. He was trained by the adepts of the Agartha, the lost Aryan civilization residing inside the Hollow Earth and a member of the Thule Society. He was very much like the Shadow, Mandrake the Magician, and the Spider all rolled into one.

You will notice that none of these folks has a PhD or any constructive day job. They were all people of action, prone to violence, and having few moral limits.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dr. Clark Savage Jr. and Princess Monja F'Teema

Doc and Princess Monja

Over the years, Doc Savage has met and dated many beautiful women. In the Super Sagas, he was more inclined to do so in the 1940s than he was in the 1930s. His brief affair in 1918 with Lily Bugov, the Countess Idivzhopu, in Philip José Farmer's "Escape form Loki" is the most notorious such encounter. But there was Rhoda Havens in "The Freckled Shark"(to whom Doc as Henry peace proposed), "Z" in "The Mental Wizard"(whom Doc almost married), Sis Harrison in "The Talking Devil" (the daughter of a villain, but Doc took her to dinner anyway), and the beautiful Russian spy Seryi Mitroff from "The Red Spider" (aka: "In Hell Madonna") and "The Frightened Fish" (with whom Doc was getting very serious). There were also others in the Sagas.

We have also discussed his relationship to Bethany Abigail 'Abby' Johnson earlier in this blog. Then there was the doxy, Danielle Bouvier, from "The Devil's Thoughts" who vamped both Clark Sr. and Clark Jr.! Less well known was his fiancée Annette Bachelor who attended medical school with Doc at Johns Hopkins in the 1920s (that being another blog entry in the making).

And despite PJF's suggestion, there is no evidence that Doc and his second-cousin Patricia were ever romantically involved.

But through it all there was one woman who was a recurring character in the Super Sagas and who had always idolized Doc. I am speaking of Princess Monja F'Teema, Daughter of King Chaac, from the lost Mayan civilization of The Valley of the Vanished. The Doc Savage Chronology at Win Eckert's Wold Newton web site has her being born in 1915. This means she was 15 years old at the time of the events in "The Man of Bronze". Doc at that time was 29. While Monja may have been well developed and nubile in 1931, she was still jail-bait!

In 1936 when "The Golden Peril" occurred, Monja would have been just 20 years old. By 1942, when "They Died Twice" occurred, she would have been 26. At that point it would have been hard for Doc not to notice Monja as a woman, especially since he was more inclined to do so in the 1940s. And indeed his distraction because of her beauty is mentioned several times in the story.

While it was a romantic notion harbored by many fans that Doc and Monja would eventually get together, there were several problems. First of all, Doc remembered his father's marriage to the Mayan maiden, Itza. It had been a true social nightmare for her to come and live in racist America where Blacks, Indians, and even the Irish were looked down upon. Itza also was uneducated by American standards and could not speak English very well. Monja also did not speak English and had no experience of the outside world.

We then have the problem of Monja's safety. Early on, Doc had discovered that his enemies would try to get to him by attacking a loved one. (This was mentioned in the George Pal movie "Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze" where Doc actually tells "Mona Flores" that he once was engaged but that criminals kidnapped his fiancée. I have since discovered that this is a true story about an incident involving Annette Bachelor. But more on that in another blog!) . Monja would be safe in The Valley but Doc could not just stay there with her. His life work required that he travel the world. What kind of husband could he be to her if she was hidden in a secret place that he rarely visited?

Finally, we must remember that Doc was an extremely unusual man with a towering intellect and great physical prowess. Could a native Princess from the jungle really be as much of a helpmate to him as Brenna and Abby had been to his father?

But then there are the positives. Monja was head-over-heels in love with Doc from the moment she first saw him. She was determined to save herself for him and she had still not married in 1942 waiting for him. She was absolutely gorgeous with natural beauty and intelligence. She also was the only child of King Chaac. If Doc married her, he would be eligible to be her consort and thereby King of the Mayans! That would have sealed the deal on the gold in The Valley of the Vanished permanently. And she was isolated enough in The Valley that her safety would not be an issue.

We are told in "The Bridge of Light" that a missionary priest was going to The Valley to instruct the natives in the Catholic faith. The man the Bishop sent was quite familiar with the Mayan languages. He started a school for the children of the valley and taught them to read and write in Spanish. The curriculum included Spanish literature, math, science, and history along with religious instruction. Monja attended this school and so she had at least a basic grammar school education. Select students also were taught Latin and other subjects. Monja was among these.

In "They Died Twice", it states that the Mayan natives' basic tongue was Nahuatl. This cannot be correct. Nahuatl is the primary Aztec language and is not related to the Mayan family of languages.

It is possible that some Nahuatl was spoken in The Valley. My sources tell me that there were families from various non-Mayan ethnic backgrounds who had apparently come to The Valley seeking refuge in the 17th Century when the High Mayan resurgence occurred. They had preserved their languages within their families and some of their story cycles and literature.

But the primary language spoken in The Valley was Itza Maya (Itzaj), a rare dialect spoken today by less than 100 people outside of The Valley. It is related to Yucatec Maya which is a language quite commonly spoken among ethnic Mayans in Mesoamerica. The Itzaj and Yucatec languages have a common ancestry but are somewhat different. The relationship between them is analogous to that between Italian and Spanish.

Sadly, the priest was killed by the Mayan warrior, Morning Breeze, using the Red Death a few weeks before the events in "The Man of Bronze". At that time the Bishop of Blanco Grande had not yet named a successor. Doc spoke with the Bishop and was able to have a Jesuit, Fr. Carlos Sanchez S.J., sent there to run the mission. Fr. Sanchez was a Mexican Mayan scholar who was living in exile in Spain after being ousted by the anti-clerical government in Mexico. He wanted to do missionary work with native people and had been a missionary in Mexico before his exile. When he came to The Valley he could not believe his luck. He compiled the most complete Mayan Glyph dictionary to date. and set out preserving and recording stories and writings from all the Mesoamerican cultures that had been saved in The Valley.

He also reopened the school and taught all the basic subjects including reading and writing. The languages taught were not only Spanish and Latin but English as well. Doc made sure that it was well stocked with modern textbooks. Monja was the school's star pupil. She had a flair for languages and Fr. Sanchez began tutoring her in Greek, French and German. By the time of the events in "The Golden Peril" Monja was ready for college studies. Fr. Sanchez was very progressive and saw educating the Princess as a way of guaranteeing the success of his religious mission. The civil war in Spain made it impossible for her to study in Europe and Mexico was in the midst of internal disturbances with open persecutions of Catholics. Many of Fr. Sanchez's friends and colleagues had been martyred for the faith in Mexico in that decade.

The University of Cordoba, Cordoba, Argentina

So Fr. Sanchez arranged for Monja to attend the Catholic University of Cordoba in Argentina as a foreign dignitary. It had been founded by the Jesuits in 1613 and was the oldest university in South America. As a woman, she was not allowed to formally enroll, but she audited several classes and was privately tutored by the University's professors. She also did quite a bit of independent study. She was most interested in governmental theory and economics. With her language skills she was able to read the classics of Western Literature in their original languages. She apparently learned Italian just so she could read La Divina Comedia in Dantte's original Tuscan dialect.

And her education went beyond books. She learned about industry, motor cars, radio, telephones, newspapers, and the night life of the modern Twentieth Century world. She also became fascinated with western art and took up painting herself. The Princess traveled all over the Americas including some trips to the USA. On at least one of those trips, she visited with Doc in New York. She spent the Summer of 1938 touring Europe. Sadly, because of the Spanish Civil War, she would not get to visit Spain until after World War II.

At the time of "They Died Twice" Monja had just returned home from Argentina when the High Mayan -- scandalized by her studies abroad and other aberrations he blamed on Doc Savage -- clamped down and tried to return The Valley of the Vanished to its isolationism. He had forced King Chaac to imprison Fr. Sanchez just days before the events in the story. Doc soon defused the situation and, afterwards, had the opportunity to get to know Monja, the educated woman. He was aware of her studies abroad which had been financed by the Hidalgo Gold Syndicate in Blanco grande. He was duly impressed. She discussed her vision for her people in The Valley. She was concerned that their way of life was threatened by modernization and she was not pleased at the prospect of the The Valley becoming the target of modern vices. In many ways her views were much like those of the High Mayan! But she also knew that they could no longer ignore the outside world. And she was determined to fight the sexist bias she had encountered in Argentina and in her own culture. It was intolerable and wasted the talents of half of the adult population. Meanwhile, she had also developed a taste for Jazz and dancing in nightclubs.

Doc smiled to himself wistfully. He was falling in love with Monja. She reminded him of Annette, who had broken with convention and suffered numerous indignities to earn her medical degree from Johns Hopkins. Nevertheless, she was all woman and enjoyed a good night on the town. Sadly, Annette had become a target for his enemies and she was too head-strong to take a low profile. She had her own career and insisted on pursuing it without restriction. That was why Clark knew he had to break it off with her. It had been for her own safety. Would he now have the same problem with Monja?

Monja insisted that she wanted to know how the government of Hidalgo functioned as well as the workings of the Syndicate that had invested The Valley's gold. She wanted to go to work for the government in Blanco Grande, Hidalgo's capital city. Her Spanish was excellent. (In fact, it was too good for Hidalgo! Her pronunciation was more Castillian than Mesoamerican.) She had cultivated clerical skills in Cordoba, including typing. And she was a quick study. She could learn quite a bit working in the capital city and make important political connections that would aid her people.

But Monja did not want to stay in the outside world. She knew her place was there in The Valley and she wanted to return there to rule it when her father died. And she wanted Clark to rule beside her. She told him this looking him right in the eyes without embarassment. The proposition she was making to him was obvious and Doc came as close to blushing as he had in many years.

Without the slightest awkwardness, they kissed. Doc held her in his arms and they gazed into each other's eyes speaking in low whispers. Things could have gone a lot further, but Doc restrained himself, and told Monja that they needed to set an example for her people. She gave him a look that clearly said she did not care to set any examples for anyone. But she was smart enough to realize that Doc was no ordinary man and that, if she was to be his woman, she would need to be extraordinary herself.

A Self Portrait of Monja F'Teema

Doc made a critical decision that night. He went to his luggage and took out a hermetically sealed metal flask with a special adjustable reservoir in the end. He gave it to Monja the next day and told her that she was to fill the reservoir and drink its contents every day until the flask was empty. He had set the reservoir for the exact amount of fluid she would need for her height and weight. The flask contained around 1 liter of fluid which was enough for around 200 doses. She asked him what it was. He told her that it was a special medicine that would prevent all illnesses, heal all scars or injuries, give her smooth skin with thick gorgeous hair, protect her teeth from decay, and keep her beautiful for him. He did not tell her that this one flask alone would also preserve her youth and increase her longevity by several decades. Thereafter, once a year, he would send her a maintenance dose that she was to take immediately. He would also provide a small additional amount of the formula so that she could take an extra dose in case of injury. It had a pleasant taste, somewhat savory and a little sweet. He cautioned her that this was to be a secret kept just between the two of them. No one else was to know about this, not even her father.

This was the infamous "Formula" that Clark Savage Senior had first developed in 1925. He had spent most of his life investigating claims for longevity elixirs from around the world. At that time, he had collected 7 bona fide anti-aging potions and determined that they were all compatible with each other. It was after taking the first dose of the "Formula" that he and Abby had conceived Ripley. It was only the second time that Clark Senior had ever impregnated a woman. He shared the "Formula" with his wife and his sons, but no one else.

When Ham Brooks had a heart attack in 1927, Doc decided to share it with his five aides as well. Monk was particularly crest fallen because he was proud of his many scars and they all eventually faded after taking the elixir. The most dramatic effect was in Johnny. His left eye had been surgically removed in 1918 to prevent sympathetic ophthalmitis after he had sustained a severe injury to it after being struck in the face by a German rifle butt during the war. Since then, he had worn a spacer in his left eye socket with a glass eye prosthetic. After starting the "Formula", Johnny started having headaches until he took the spacer out. Over the next seven years, he regenerated a new eye. At first all he could see was light and dark, but then the vision started coming in distorted. Doc determined that he had some surgical clips and sutures still present from the original enucleation. He operated on Johnny in early 1934 just before the events in "The Man who Shook the Earth" and removed all foreign debris from the left orbit. Within days, the eye began to function normally.

There was also an interesting side effect for Monk Mayfair. In the Super Saga "Rock Sinister" (May, 1945) it was revealed that his all of his teeth had come out and he had had to wear dentures. Doc had a made a change to the "Formula" that year and for some reason Monk had had a paradoxic reaction to his yearly dose: all of his teeth fell out and he grew a new set over the next 3 months. Doc made an adjustment to Monk's formula and this did not happen again.

{The sharper readers will be wondering why Clark Senior had fallen victim to the Red Death if he had this illness preventing "Formula". The simple answer is that he did NOT die of the Red Death. According to my sources, he was shot and killed with the same large bore rifle that was used to fire at Doc in the opening sequence of "The Man of Bronze". The analyses that Monk said he had performed on Clark Senior's body were actually done on the body of Hubert Robertson. Apparently several attempts had been made to kill Clark Senior. There was a failed attempt by a sniper and a car bomb that we know about. Then there was the attempt to use the Red Death to infect him and the members of the Cabal who supported Doc's special education. This had occurred at a dinner meeting about three weeks before "The Man of Bronze". the Cabal met to prepare to finalize the transfer of funds from the Hidalgo Gold Syndicate to Clark Junior's control. All of the men there had been exposed to the Red Death, but only Doc's father had not taken ill. Within two or three days, they were all dead. Luckily, some of the Cabal -- like Sam Cantor and Jerome Coffern -- were not at that meeting. In frustration, the murderous conspirators killed Clark Senior with a Dinosaur Rifle that he himself had designed while he was going to attend to the dying Hubert Robertson. Tragically, Clark Senior was bringing an experimental penicillin formula to treat his friend, but he was shot before he could administer it. For public health reasons, it was decided to cremate the bodies of all the dead men who had attended the meeting including Clark Senior's. Why was this charade implemented by Dent, et al? My sources said that it was to protect the existence of the "Formula".}

Clark Senior had continued improving on the formula over the years. After his death, Clark Junior continued to modify it. In "Fear Cay" in 1934 he had stumbled upon the rejuvenating herb Silphium growing on a small Caribbean Island. Later that year, his cousin Tarzan had stumbled on the Kavuru longevity pills and sent samples to Doc for analysis. At the time that Monja was given her dose of the "Formula" in 1942, it contained 23 separate components and hundreds of different compounds. It even contained an allotropic form of pure gold with odd biological properties. (This gold allotrope was discovered in the Middle East as documented in the book "Golden Blood" by Jack Williamson.)

In any case, Doc gave the formula to Monja as a pledge of his trust and affection. He told her that he loved her, but that they both had some unfinished business to attend to before they could contemplate marriage. Doc was quite concerned about the war and the rising threat of international Communism. (He knew the alliance between Stalin and the West was a marriage of convenience which would only last long enough to neutralize Hitler.) And Monja was still preparing herself to rule her people. But King Chaac was getting old and it was important for political stability that the dynastic succession be guaranteed.

And so Doc proposed that he and Monja undergo the formal Mayan ritual of betrothal. This would placate the High Mayan, solidify Monja's political credibility, and give Doc a claim over The Valley and its resources. When Fr. Sanchez heard about it, he was fit to be tied, but Doc reassured him that the natives were not backsliding. In fact, this would guarantee that there would be no further attempts to imprison or kill him. Fr. Sanchez accepted this explanation but remained apprehensive.

Doc left The Valley shortly thereafter and arranged with the Hidalgo government for a job for Monja at the Captial. Monja -- under the name of Mona Flores -- became a clerk in the department of the interior. (This is another detail that the George Pal movie got correctly.) She worked there for several years and eventually became a department head dealing with Indian affairs. She also became a trustee of the Hidalgo Syndicate and through them endowed Hidalgo University which was run by the Jesuit order. Part of the University's charter was to educate both men and women in all programs. Monja then continued her education earning a law degree and an MBA. She was admitted to the Bar in Blanco Grande in 1948.

Back in New York, Doc became friends with hotelier Jim Anthony and they were known to party together. During this time Doc dated many beautiful women, something he had avoided in the previous decade. He did this because up to that time he was quite inexperienced with the fair sex and he decided to play the field for a while. Doc learned a lot about women in general and how to intereact with them. He even was finally able to imitate the female voice! But he found that, nice as they were, none of these women held a candle to Monja.

Doc visited her in Blanco Grande on several occasions and she also came to New York a few times. It is rumored that they took trips together to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East between 1945 and 1949, but my sources cannot confirm this. Doc always has been a very private man.

After the events of "Up from Earth's Center", Doc became more introspective and began to seriously consider his own mortality. The Doc Savage Chronology states that it was in 1949 that Dr. Clark Savage Jr. and Princess Monja F'Teema were 'secretly' married. Indeed the ceremony was performed by Fr. Sanchez at the Mayan style church that had been built in The Valley. They took their vows before the whole congregation along with select friends and family.

The Church of the Martyrs of the Americas, The Valley of the Vanished, Hidalgo

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Aviation Experiments in the 1950s

I had a rather interesting conversation with one of my confidential sources concerning Doc Savage, UFOs, and experimental aircraft in the 1950s. I thought it might be of interest to some of my readers.

The Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development (AGARD) was formed in 1952 and was intended to act as experiment in scientific cooperation among NATO nations. In 1953, an international AGARD scientific conference was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts to discuss the direction of future aviation developments in the light of the experiences of the Korean War. Attending the conference were two men who would have an important impact on top secret experimental aviation in the 1950s.

The first was Professor Rudolph Felix Popkiss (b. 30th October 1902, Budapest, Hungary). Popkiss was of German-speaking Swiss lineage. His father had been studying in Budapest at the time of his son's birth. His parents moved to Appenzell near the Austro-Swiss border when he was only a year old; it was there that his sister Heidi was born. In his youth he helped out a clockmaker by the name of Curt Gestler who taught him about delicate machinery.

Rudolph completed his doctoral studies at the University of Geneva in 1931 with degrees in Electronics, Aviation, and Rocketry and set up his own research complex outside Geneva. He was eventually named a full professor at the University in 1935.

Robert Goddard at Roswell, NM with one of his rockets.

Back in 1929, he had traveled to America to visit with Robert H. Goddard at his rocket laboratory in Massachusetts. The two became friends and they continued to correspond with each other during the 1930s. Popkiss came to visit his friend many times over the next 8 years and fell in love with the USA. There was very little work available in Switzerland for experimental aviation and Prof. Popkiss began receiving funding from the German Government in 1934 to continue his research. By 1936, the Germans were insistent that Popkiss come to Germany to work on rocketry and advanced aviation design. Popkiss was horrified at what the Nazis were doing in Germany and he refused. His major source of funding was summarily cut off and he was forced to close his research facility. By this time Dr. Goddard had moved his experimental operations to Roswell, NM and Prof. Popkiss took a liking to the American Southwest on his visits there. Meanwhile, his fellow German-speaking Swiss academics began to ostracize him for his refusal to work in Nazi Germany.

In 1937, he was offered a position as visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and he came to the United States. While he was here, Popkiss was approached by the US Government to do some consulting work. He agreed to do so. Among other things he was able to brief them on what German scientists were doing. They granted him a plot of land in Black Rock, Nevada to set up a laboratory for experimental work in rocketry and advanced aircraft engine design. When his visiting professorship at MIT was over, he was offered a special status green card and was employed by the US Government full time in experimental aircraft design. He helped develop the first fully workable jet engine for US military aircraft which was used in the XP-59A Airacomet on its maiden flight on October 1st, 1942. His rocket engine design was the basis for the XLR-11 rocket engine used in the Bell X-1 aircraft in 1946 to break the sound barrier. He also drafted the first proposal for a swept-back winged jet fighter which was the inspiration for the F-86 Sabre jet. He was offered a position on the aviation research team for the Manhattan Project but refused. He wanted to pursue continued advances in jet engine design.

After the war in 1945, Professor Popkiss returned to MIT as a full professor and he brought his sister Heidi to the United States. Their parents had both died during the war years and Rudolph deeply regretted that, for security reasons, he could not attend their death beds in Switzerland. In 1946, he became an American citizen. The Professor is a workaholic but he collects butterflies and tinkers with clocks and 'likes nothing better than to sit in front of a roaring fire with a good book'. He is a great reader of classical literature in several languages. But his greatest love is cooking, especially breakfast.

Professor Popkiss was the keynote speaker at the 1953 AGARD Conference and challenged his colleagues to "look to the future" and to push the envelope in developing revolutionary new power trains and aircraft designs. He got into a heated discussion with some British academics after the talk which continued on into the night. One of those academics was Doctor Horatio Beaker.

St. Edmund Hall, Oxford

Dr. Beaker was an interesting fellow. He was born on 23rd July 1912, in Tunbridge Wells, England. Horatio was a child prodigy and received straight A levels in every subject. He was a bit eccentric and absent-minded but absolutely brilliant. He attended Oxford as an Undergraduate and even coxed for the Boat Race. Horatio was a scholar at one of the oldest Oxford colleges, St. Edmund Hall, where he got a double-first in Maths and Physics (Part I) and Biology with Micro-Genetics (Part II.) He took further training at Cambridge where he did some student teaching. Ultimately he completed degrees in Electronics, Biology, Physics, Mathematics, and Aerospace Engineering. He gained his Oxford D.Sc in 1941, and was elected a Fellow of All Souls after the war in 1946, at the age of 34. He also was an student of Judo and was a founding member of the Oxford Judo Club.

He worked for Vickers Aviation for a while before the war and became known in the research community of the Air Ministry. His brilliance and revolutionary ideas made him a critical military asset and his identity was kept confidential. He was given a cover job in London to put foreign intelligence services off the track.

During World War II , Dr. Beaker OFFICIALLY worked for the Ministry of Food with Professor Magnus Pyke, educating the people in how to get the most nutrition from what food was available. In fact, Horatio wrote several pamphlets on the topic of enhancing the diet with plants and herbs from the garden including a particularly interesting one extolling the use of Rose Hips as a source of Vitamin C. His recipe for Rose Hip tea flavored with Hibiscus became a staple product of the Crabtree & Evelyn brand and is still in production today. Beaker is also, like Popkiss, dedicated to his work but he devotes a lot of his scarce leisure time to botany where he is still experimenting today with food plants to enable us to get more nutrition out of them and he also puts his fertile mind into trying to get plants to grow in inhospitable areas.

For most of the war, though, he worked for the Air Ministry spending a lot ot ime at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) in Farnborough, HANTS. He worked with Dr. Sir Barnes Neville Wallis with whom he had been associated at Vickers before the war.

Rare picture showing Beaker on the left and Wallis in the middle.

They had collaborated on the design of the development of the Wellesley and Wellington bombers and of the use of Geodesic structures in airframes. During the war, theyworked on top secret aviation projects including the development of the bouncing "Dam Buster" bombs and the 12,000 pound Grand Slam bombs. The work Beaker did was highly classified and he often used the cover of "plant growth research" to conceal his involvement is secret Aerospace work.

The Royal Aircraft Establishment from the Air

In 1945, he took a teaching position at Cambridge. He also pursued several aviation research projects both under private and government contracts. He maintained his top secret clearance and was part of the British delegation to the AGARD conference in 1953. Officially he went to the US to study the growth of desert plants. In reality, he spent his time at the AGARD conference, the experiment flight section at Edwards AFB, and Prof. Popkiss's site at Black Rock.

In the heated discussions that night in 1953, Popkiss and Beaker found themselves on common ground for many issues and soon the discussion ended up as a dialog between these two men that occurred on such a high level of discourse that many of their colleagues could not follow what they were saying. The discussion wandered into the realm of extremely advanced theoretical engine systems and complex airframe designs. Beaker in his early twenties had proposed a design for what he called "The Manta", a hybrid fighter aircraft that could not only fly but also function as a submarine attack craft. He also had designs for a flying aircraft carrier and a rocket pack ejection system for both underwater and aviation ejection.* The problem was that these projects required special materials and power sources that were unavailable at that time.

{*In an alternate timeline, these projects became a reality and Great Britain fielded them in 1935. This can be seen in the film "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" which takes place in an alternate 1939 where Germany and Japan have been held in check by British air power.}

He also had an idea for an advanced sort of imaging system that could penetrate a visual obstacle -- the thickest fog, liquid water, even solid walls -- and present clear real time full color images of objects at a distance. This "Clear Vue" system was based on the Quantum Physics principle of the Josephson effect. This effect induced quantum tunnelling through any barrier by increasing the potential in the quantum state vector on one side of the barrier thus allowing energy and information to burrow through it. The actual image transmission occurs at tachyonic speed. Beaker was aware that this nascent technology could theoretically lead to teleportation. (He did not know that this had been the principle used by the teleportation machine in the Super Saga "The Vanisher".)

Popkiss shared his plans for a vehicle that used a magnetoaerodynamic system. It would use magnetic fields to suck air into a plenum chamber and then magnetically force the molecules to repel each other and cause direct expansion and expulsion of the gases by magnetic induction. Add some combustable fuel to the mixture and you would have a powerful engine capable of propelling an aircraft at hypersonic speeds. The theoretical limit of the top speed of an aircraft powered by such an engine could be over Mach 30. That would be fast enough to put an aircraft into orbit with very little on-board fuel using mostly air for reaction mass at higher speeds and altitudes.

Sitting in the back of the hall was Doctor Clark Savage Jr. As the other participants dispersed, Popkiss and Beaker began brainstorming together and Doc kept listening. He was greatly impressed by what he heard. At one point when the discussion was petering out as the two geniuses were becoming exhausted, Doc stepped forward, introduced himself, and offered to help make their speculations a reality. Doc arranged for a US government Black Project funding site and gave them access to certain high tech materials that were otherwise unknown at that time. A level 3 Top Secret, Eyes Only "need to know" was assigned to the project. The old lab facility at Black Rock was rebuilt and project "Touring Car" was born.

Popkiss and Beaker spent the next 2 years at their respective drawing boards. In 1955, the refurbishing at Black Rock was complete and Professor Popkiss and Dr. Beaker took sabbaticals from their respective teaching institutions to go into full time design and building of Project "Touring Car". These two old geniuses threw their hearts and souls into this project. By 1958 they had designed the most godawful looking hybrid airframe anyone had ever seen. It used advanced concepts including a jet ducting system that would allow true vertical take-offs and landings. Dr. Beaker also brought in another electronics expert, J. Fairleigh Prothero,of A.P. Electronics, to co-design Touring Car's electronics. Both he and Popkiss would call on outside experts for help, sometimes compromising the secrecy of their project. The project was far enough along that they finally needed a test pilot to test the rig's performance.

Doc had been monitoring the project over the years. The two brilliant men were great scientists but terrible bookkeepers and they each tended to go off on his own tangent. And they had a very little concept of operational security. He realized that they not only needed a test pilot but another team member to keep the project on track, keep the two researchers coordinated ,and maintain SOME modicum of security. This is how Mike Mercury got involved in the project.

USAF captain Michael Mercury Jr. was born on 22nd November 1930 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Mike loved flying from a very early age and had ample opportunity to study aircraft as his father was a pilot. The senior Michael became a fighter pilot in the European theater in the United States Army Air Force during World War II. Unfortunately, Michael Senior was killed in the war and shortly afterwards, Mike's mother died in a car crash. Mike Junior entered the US Military Academy at West Point in 1948 and graduated in 1952. He entered the US Air Force and completed an accelerated fighter pilot training program. By May 1953 he was flying missions over Korea and, within the month, he became an Ace. He had a war time total of 11 1/2 kills. He was shot down behind enemy lines by an experimental Russian SAM-1 Missile in June and he spent two weeks in the jungle evading North Korean patrols until he finally made it through to allied lines. He was the first American to see a Russian SAM missile in action and his debriefing was classified "Top Secret". Mike was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

After the war, Mike became a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He was injured in a crash in 1954 and while in the hospital he fell in love with his nurse, Julie Satinover. They were married in 1955 and Mike was promoted to Major. Julie Mercury wanted Mike to get out of test pilot work and pushed for him to advance his education. He began work on a masters degree in aerospace engineering under government sponsorship. He had even applied for the early space program in 1957 and could have been one of the first seven Mercury Astronauts. Mike finished his masters in June, 1958. He gained a reputation as a competent research assistant and a team player who helped keep his project members working together, on time, and within budget. He seemed to be a shoe-in for Astronaut selection.

But Julie became ill in July, 1958 and was diagnosed with an advanced case of leukemia. She died 3 weeks after being diagnosed. She also had been 5 months pregnant at the time of her death. The child was a son and did not survive. Mike was devastated and was put on a personal leave of absence in August. He was subsequently passed over when the Mercury astronaut selection was made in October of that year.

Doc Savage had heard of this young man's story and thought that Mike Mercury was just the man for the job of test pilot on the Touring Car project. He would not only be good for the project but the project would be good for him. Doc interviewed him personally and had him come to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to meet with Popkiss and Beaker. The three men hit it off quite well. The older researchers reminded Mike of his crazy uncles back home who had taken care of him after his parents died. Popkiss was a sentimental father figure and Beaker was an absent-minded fuss-budget. Mike was a down-to-earth guy who could handle himself in a fight, keep track of the finances, and keep everybody focused on the task at hand. And he was a superb test pilot. He also made several technical contributions to the final design of Touring Car many of which resulted in patents essential to modern aircraft.

Mike was assigned to test pilot duty at Nellis AFB and continued in that status until 1960. During this period, he worked full time with Popkiss and Beaker. In 1960, Mike was transferred to the US Air Force Reserve and became a civilian employee of the Air Force. He continued in that capacity until he retired from government service in 2000 with the rank of Brigadier General

The prototype was based around a unique reaction chamber that consisted of two large square condenser plates which generated two magnetic vortices between them. One was on the right (Starboard) side of the plates and the other was on the left (Port) side. The system was powered by a small atomic reactor. The Port vortex revolved clockwise and the the Starboard vortex revolved counter-clockwise. This cancelled out the magnetic effects beyond the plates. Various things could be introduced into the plenum chamber for the vortex to act on. Different kinds of combustible fuels could be used that would have their efficiency dramatically increased by magnetic induction of expansion. Metal filings could also be introduced to increase the reaction mass and overall thrust. Because everything in the chamber was manipulated by magnetism there was no physical contact of reaction materials with the plates themselves.

When starting the vortices, you had to do only one at a time otherwise they canceled each other out. After you got one started, it helped to induce the other one. At the low energies during startup during the intital tests, there were no discernable magnetic effects detectable outside the plates. At high air speed the counter-rotating vortices canceled out each other's effects outside the plates. Later on, Doc Savage provided an unusual ceramic material that was superconducting even at high temperatures. This insulated the effect of the vortices at high energies so that even with one vortex functioning, the aircrat could still fly safely.

Early on they, discovered that virtually any fluid -- liquid or gas -- could be manipulated by the vortices, though only a diamagnetic gas like oxygen could use magnetic induction to force a rapid expansion in gas volume. Water molecules also have a diamagnetic moment and were excellent candidates for generating thrust through the chamber. With just a little bit of magnetic heat induction, the water could be converted explosively to steam. This allowed the engine to function under water.

The original hull was composed largely of carbon composite materials that were harder than steel but light as plastic. The plenum chamber and exhaust ducts and nozzles were made of ceramics. What metal was used on the craft was of special alloys whose properties were tailor-made for their function. Beaker actually formulated most of these ceramics and alloys. Later on, Beaker developed a thin ceramic armor with low thermal conductivity that covered the entire outside of the vehicle. This made Supercar bullet-proof against anything up to 30mm shells and flak.

The canopy was originally made of high tensile plastic, but it was not holding up as hoped to the stresses of hypersonic flight. Beaker and Popkiss were contemplating putting a metal canopy on with a small glass window. Instead Doc Savage suggest a special hardened "glassite" material which was extremely hard though relatively light. This was a highly "classified" exotic material that only he could get for tehm. They sent him the schematics and he provided them with ready formed pieces and some small test blanks so they could familiarize themselves with teh material's properties. Beaker became curious as he studied the material. He was astonished that it could not be scratched even by a diamond. He estimated its density at 3.3 g/ml compared to a diamond at 3.5 g/ml and ordinary glass at 2.4-2.8 g/ml. He did a hardness test and stopped at 20 million psi (pounds per square inch) because his equipment could not go any higher. The hardest diamond has a hardness of 14.5 million psi. It had such low thermal conductivity that you could hold an oxy-acetylene torch to one side of the glass and not feel the heat on the other. This was very helpful since air friction at hypesonic speeds routinely raised the external hull temperature above 900 degrees Farenheit. There was a variation in the thickness on curved parts which prevented optical distortion without sacrificing strength. Beaker believed that the density of the material was altered in those places. The optics of the material were very unusual. The material was transparent across the whole human visible spectrum but it blocked IR, Microwaves, UV light and x-rays. The way it reflected electromagnetic radiation was also bizarre so that radar could not see it clearly. It did not polarize light yet somehow it was able to filter out glare and improve visability. Early attempts to generate a spectrum of the material completely failed. (It would be several years before a powerful enough laser was available to use for this and the results were so bizarre that they were unclassifiable.)

The square shape of the plates dictated a flat design for the body of the test bed aircraft. Dr. Popkiss used a lifting-body design to generate lift. Small retractable wings were used to generate stability during flight. The canopy on the test bed was made large enough to hold 4 people so that more than one person could be carried on to the aircraft along with the pilot to do research.

It was Mike who dubbed the first flying prototype "Supercar." Popkiss had suggested the name Superzeug (German for "super thing"). Beaker had recommeded the name Petrel after a diving seabird. Mike suggested "Supercar" because of the project codename "Touring Car" and the fact that "the darn thing looks like a flying car!"

In the initial flight testing, Supercar could achieve fantastic speeds. It was actually capable of cruising at Mach 6! Pretty soon people were reporting visual sightings of Supercar as UFOs and more than once, radar spotted the craft and jets were scrambled. Mike Mercury became concerned about this so test flights were temporarily suspended. Beaker and Popkiss spent a few days thinking about it. Popkiss redesigned the shape of the hull to be more smooth and rounded. Beaker also formulated a radar absorbing coating for the body. Finally, Popkiss and Beaker collaborated on an active radar control system that could control the radar signature of the craft. It allowed it to be visible, or invisible on radar at will. It also could project a false image to imitate thermals, thunderstorms, flocks of birds, storm clouds or even specific aircraft. Within one month, they were doing full scale air trials again and were never tracked on radar after that unless they wanted to be. The visual sightings did continue and helped contribute to the UFO mythology of the 1950s and 1960s.

Mike took a shine to both boys and saw something of himself in them. He too was an orphan and had wanted desperately to be an astronaut. The Supercar team decided to help the young men. Jimmy stayed on at the Black Rock facility where he went ot school and learned how to fly. Bill was freed up to pursue his desire to be an astronaut. Mike and the two scientists pulled some strings . He got a Masters degree in Astronautics at MIT and did a thesis on using single stage manned rockets designed for human passengers as opposed to strapping them to high-G ICBMs which was what the current space program was doing. He, Popkiss, and Beaker actaully built and tested the system. The Air Force Brass was so impressed that Bill was selected as one of the second group of NASA astronauts in 1962. In 1964 he married his childhood sweetheart, Anne Stephens. Bill never made it into any of the flight rotations, but was part of the support team for several flights. He was also tagged to give input to the design team for the Saturn rockets which were the first NASA rockets designed to carry human payloads.

My sources indicate that Major Bill Gibson was awarded Astronaut wings in 1970 as was Col. Mike Mercury. This had something to do with a Black Ops space mission in that year in which an improved version of Supercar figured prominently.

During the 1960s, Doc began to use a vehicle called Ski Gull, to travel back and forth from the Fortess of Solitude. It was a twoseater magnetoaerodynamic jet desgined to be stealthy and capable of travelling at Mach 7. The design of this plane was based heavily on lessons learned from the Touring Car project.

Also during this time, Doc used a multi-environment vehicle that flew, ran under water, and was designed for land travel. It was called the Valkyrie. It was not desgined for hypersonic flight.

In his most recent space-plane, The Seraphim, Doc uses ten banks of flat magnetic engines each of which is five times as poweful as the one in the original Supercar.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Concordism or Multiple Worlds? How to handle the Different Docs

Like many action characters, Doc Savage has gone through several different "incarnations" in different media and spawned several pastiche variations. The Doc Savage of the Marvel Comics Universe was quite different from the Doc Savage of the DC Comic Universe. The Doc Savage of Phil Farmer's "Apocalyptic Life" is somewhat different from that of the Super Sagas. The Millennium Comics Doc Savage is different from that of the Dark Horse Comics.

And the Pastiches! Phil Farmer has created Doc Wildman, Doc Caliban, Doc Ravage, and Doc Fauvre. Mike Black has his excellent Doc Atlas stories. Tim Byrd has his exciting Doc Wilde series. There are the Doc Ardan stories by Guy d'Armen (adapted by J-M. & R. Lofficier) and Win Eckert. Glen Cook creaed his fantasy homage to Doc Savage known as Rider. Aaron Alston has his fantasy-based Doc Sidhe stories. E. Hoffmann Price created his Doc Brandon. And we can't forget Doc Brass from Planetary. We even had a Doc Richards pastiche from the Fantastic Four! And then there were lesser known homages like Doc Garbage, Doc Sausage, Doc Sovage, Doc Frankenstein, and Doc Royal.

So what gives? Do we need to harmonize all of these disparate Docs into one timeline (a lá the post-crisis DC universe) or should we accept that all these different Docs inhabit different universes (a lá the pre-crisis DC universe and the Batman /Planetary crossover)?

Some of the Wold Newton devotees have elected to go with the former. I for one prefer the latter. I think it is more exciting to contemplate a whole series of different Docs than to try to force fit all the wild (and often contradictory) story lines into one complete narrative.
(For those interested, there are several good Wold Newton sites including The Wold Newton Pages & The Secret History of Wold Newton, on , The Wold Newton Chronicles , The French Wold Newton Pages, Yet Another Wold Newton Site, Jess Nevin's Wold Newton Page, and many others.)

This also allows each creative mind to develop his or her own "Doc" whole and entire. And to be honest, that may the way things really are if the Many-Worlds Theory of Quantum Physics is true.

One solution to the Quantum State Vector equation implies that at each decision node when reality could proceed in 2 or more different directions, EVERY possibility is actualized "somewhere" so that an infinite number of possible universes comes into existence. This means that all imaginable realities actually exist "somewhere". EVERY possibility without exception! So there really could be a universe with a Superman, or a Fantastic Four, or a Doc Ravage, or a Doc Sidhe.

I have problems with this Many-Worlds Theory. It requires that at each decision point the universe splits off and spawns slightly different clones of itself. This is a major violation of the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy. If at every instant the entire universe duplicates itself, we should be able to document violations of the conservations laws routinely. There should also be some quantum tunneling effects in certain high-energy states which we just do not see. One of the great contributions to Quantum Physics by Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman was his "Sum over Histories" theory. It replaces the classical notion of a single, unique history for a system with a sum, or functional integral, over an infinity of possible histories to compute a quantum amplitude. Essentially, all the possible outcomes cancel each other out until only one remains ,and it is that one which is actualized.

This means that each possible world has a semblance of existence and influences the ultimate result of reality, but in the end, only one real world truly "exists" in the sense of having real mass and energy. Thus the Conservation Laws are maintained, but the "Many-Worlds" also have a form of existence in a purely conceptual way.

So human imagination does not just "make things up". It explores the conceptual possibilities which actually do "exist" in some way and which have contributed to the way the "real" universe is.

So "somewhere" there is a Doc Caliban and a DC Universe Doc Savage who are complete and consistent persons in and of themselves separate from the Doc Savage of the Super Sagas. They are real alternatives to the Super Saga Doc and do not need to be force-fitted together into the same timeline.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Doc Savage and his Fortune

It is very clear from the Super Sagas that Clark Savage Senior had spent virtually everything he had in completing his son's education, building the Fortress of Solitude, funding the Empire State Building project, and establishing the Crime College on his upstate New York Estate. But Clark Senior had been a multi-millionaire who made deals over the phone dealing with tens of millions of dollars. What might be considered being cash-poor in his case would still be filthy rich to most of us. And we must remember that the 1929 Stock-Market crash and the Depression occurred around the time of The Man of Bronze. During those days even rich men were "cash poor" with much of their personal wealth tied up in frozen assets. In fact, in the Millennium comic series "The Devil's Thoughts" we discovered that -- in a twist of irony -- Clark Senior had to borrow $250,000 from the Mob in 1930 to finish the work on the Crime College. it was not poverty that led him to do this but a lack of liquid assets.

Clark Senior had liquidated many of his assets to fund all those projects, but he had also established trust funds to keep them going as well. At the time of his death, he was still worth hundreds of millions of dollars on paper. Cash flow was the issue. Doc himself had several patents from which he was drawing revenue and he had an investment portfolio which his father had started for him when he was a child. He had also received annuities from his father on his 21st birthday, and was supposed to receive more on his 30th birthday. It was then that Clark Senior was planning to reveal the gold supply from the Valley of the Vanished.

But merely having a supply of gold would never have been enough. You need to have a means of converting that gold to cash to make it useful. And compounding the problem, on April 5, 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt outlawed the ownership of gold by individual citizens and he confiscated any bullion or coinage that was in private hands.

From my confidential sources, I have learned that the deal which Clark Senior had made with the Government of Hidalgo and King Chaac from the Mayan city had been put into effect in 1917 just before he had left for Maple White Land and that gold had been flowing out of the mountains of Hidalgo from an alleged new mine since then. Between 1917 and 1930 over $250 million dollars in gold had been taken out of the Valley of the Vanished and processed by a syndicate in Hidalgo for investment both overseas and in America. The syndicate had included Clark Senior, Hubert Robertson, Hidalgo's President Martinez (who died in 1924) and several of the men who had been sponsoring Clark Junior's education. It was the list of these men that Kulkulkan had targeted for assassination in 1931.

At first, Clark Senior had managed the investments of the syndicate, but after his injuries in Maple White Land, his private attorney Sam Cantor took over. He began investing large amounts of money overseas as well as making key investments at home in the USA. At the time of "The Man of Bronze" (March 1931) Sam was overseas putting the finishing touches on the plan to transfer control of the Hidalgo syndicate to Clark Junior that November. Sam had heard of the deaths of the Syndicate members and stayed out of the country traveling under an assumed name. When his sources informed him that Clark junior had taken control of the situation and that there was no pending threat, Sam returned to New York and briefed Clark Junior on the final plan. Since the syndicate members were mostly dead at that point, it was decided to move the timetable up for the disbursement of the funds.

With an initial outlay of $10,000 in cash, Sam Cantor began a cascade of ownership transfers all over the world and the USA which within 30 days provided $10 million dollars in cash to the accounts of the Hidalgo Trading Company. At that time, Doc Savage was the sole proprietor of the company having inherited it from his father. Similar outlays of cash flowed through the Hidalgo Trading Company every quarter for the first year and then they started to go up in value after that. At the time that Doc took possession of the world wide portfolio, it was worth over $750 million. The value of the portfolio increased yearly and Doc was a multi-billionaire before the start of World War II.

It should be noted that while Doc was in The Valley of the Vanished, he had arranged with King Chaac that upon receiving a radio signal, a mule train with $5 million dollars (~5 tons) of gold ingots would be sent to Blanco Grande for conversion to cash. This was a separate from the syndicate shipments, though the same rule for dividing the value between the Mayans and the Hidalgo government still applied. Later on, Pat Savage would pick up some of these shipments of gold and transfer it to institutions overseas for disbursement. The gold was "laundered " through banks in the Caribbean and Cuba among other places. It became Doc's "mad money" for those special projects that were not budgeted through normal channels.

Doc also began selling Mayan antiquities from the treasure trove under the Pyramid to selected buyers and museums. Some of the antiquities attributed to the unknown Mayan "Site Q" which have been showing up on the antiquities markets for the last 5 decades have actually been from The Valley of the Vanished.

One of the things Doc arranged when he took over the reins of the Hidalgo Syndicate was to upgrade it into a world class international bank. By 1940, Hidalgo had some of the most favorable banking laws in the world for investors. In fact it became the "Switzerland" of the Americas and remains such to this day. At this point, Doc virtually owns the entire county.

In the late 1930s, the Germans became quite interested in South American affairs and their spies were everywhere. It became dangerous to continue the processing of gold from Hidalgo and so the mines were "shut down" in 1938 and Doc rarely requested "mad money" shipments from King Chaac until 1942. After the US entered World War II, Doc stopped the entire gold operation for security reasons. It was never reopened.

During World War II, Doc and Long Tom became heavily involved in defense contracting. All that work on a radio-wave insecticide device which they had been doing for the previous decade generated several key patents essential for advanced electronic devices and radar. Long Tom went into partnership with Dr. Brownlee an inventor who had provided specialty devices for many of the heroes headquartered in New York including The Spider, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and Jim Anthony, among others. They eventually incorporated their own specialty defense company (underwritten by Doc) using the grounds in upstate New York where Brownlee's original facility was based. They all made a fortune from this.

Further investment in post-war American industry and a continued flow of high tech patents increased Doc's fortune. His world wide connections opened markets to him that were untappable otherwise and he began to broker business deals in the far east. Doc used Hidalgo as the main repository for his wealth and he kept the populace happy and unlikely to be duped by Communist agitation.

By 1949, Doc's worldwide income was so great that he actually began shipping gold BACK to The Valley of Vanished for safe keeping. Over the next 26 years, Doc returned an average of $20 million dollars in gold every year. He more than replaced all the gold ingots that had been removed. The aging King Chaac thought that Doc was out of his mind. But Doc assured him that the Mayan's trust fund was even larger than what was being put back.

On August 15, 1971, President Nixon closed the "Gold Window". The last link between Gold and the Dollar was gone. The result was inevitable. In February 1973, the world's currencies "floated". By the end of 1974, Gold had soared from $35 to $195 an ounce. Then on January 1, 1975, after 42 years, it again became "legal" for individual Americans to own gold, and the price began to fluctuate. But by the end of the decade gold was worth $850 dollars an ounce. This meant that the gold returned to Hidalgo had increased in value to over 24 times what it had been worth when it had been repatriated. This was a staggering coup and it vindicated Doc's plan.

Today, Doc's economic empire is widely distributed across the globe and it is estimated to be worth over 2 trillion dollars! Still, every few months, a new patent is filed by the Hidalgo Trading Company for some esoteric mechanical, electrical, or chemical process. The patent usually is of little interest at first, but within a few years whatever was patented turns out to be the key part of a new and revolutionary product or technology, and the Hidalgo Trading Company draws royalties from it. There are several such patents still active that have not yet been found useful. And more HTC patents are filed every year.

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