Handsome Joe Explores A Garden

…with his pal Willie the Pug


The Doclopedia #1,412

Alt. Superhero Movies: The Pulps

While some people like to keep the great pulp era heroes separate from the costumed comic book superheroes, they were pretty straightforward precursors to them. In fact, both Doc Savage and the Shadow heavily influenced Superman and Batman.

On Earth 1-G, the pulp heroes got more movie exposure than they did here, but they got even more television exposure, especially in the 1980s.

One thing to note is that there were a couple of very popular female pulp heroes. The first was Lady Mystery, AKA Lady Katherine Walton, daughter of a famous British adventurer. Her stories found her and all female crew traveling the globe to solve mysteries of a supernatural nature. Lady Mystery magazine ran monthly from July1933 until September 1939.

The other big female pulp hero was none other than Pat Savage, Doc’s cousin. Her magazine premiered 3 years after Doc’s and ran for 5 years. Crossovers between the two magazines were common. Pat also had more recurring villains than Doc did.

Almost all of the pulp heroes that made it to the silver screen first got there in serials or lower budget movies. The sole exceptions in the 1930s were Doc Savage and The Shadow, who went straight from print and radio to feature films from Warner Brothers.

In the 1940’s, more pulp heroes got movies, though most were “B” movies made to run with the larger Hollywood films. By the 1950’s, the number of pulp hero movies produced was very small. By the early 1960’s, they had vanished from theaters altogether, although the serials were popular on television.

When the Doc Savage, Shadow, Lady Mystery and Pat Savage paperback reprints started in 1964, they were very popular with a new generation. This lead to other pulp reprints and, starting in 1970 and running to 1988, new movies. Eventually there were both live action and animated series, too.

After a 20 year hiatus from the movies, in 2008 Doc Savage made a comeback. The following year, the Shadow did the same. Both eventually found their way to Netflix original series, where one could also find series featuring pulp characters such as Jules de Grandin and Conan the Barbarian.

The List (by hero/character, instead of date)

The Shadow! (1933)
The Shadow Laughs (1935)
Revenge Of The Shadow (1936)
The Shadow Knows (1938)
The Shadow In London (1939)
Hand Of The Shadow (1942)
The Shadow In San Francisco (1944)
The Shadow (1970)
The Shadow VS The Crime Master (1973)
The Shadow On The Hunt (1977)
The Shadow Returns (2009)
The Shadow Laughs (2011)
The Shadow Knows (2013)

Doc Savage, The Man Of Bronze (1937)
Doc Savage And The Lost Oasis (1939)

Doc Savage And The Czar Of Fear (1941)
Doc Savage And The Spook Legion (1942)
Doc Savage And The Metal Master (1943)
Doc Savage And The Vanisher (1945)

Doc Savage And The Monsters (1946)
Doc Savage And The Cold Death (1948)
Doc Savage And The Men Who Smiled No More (1950)
Doc Savage (1971)
Doc Savage: He Could Stop The World (1973)
Doc Savage: The Phantom City (1975)
Doc Savage: Meteor Menace (1978)
Doc Savage: The Monsters (1980)
Doc Savage: Land of Always Night (1983)
Doc Savage: The Vanisher (1985)
Doc Savage: The Other World (1988)
The Return Of Doc Savage (2008)
Doc Savage: The Monster Maker (2010)
Doc Savage: White Death (2013)
Doc Savage: Sunlight And Shadow (2015)

Lady Mystery (1935)
The Secrets of Lady Mystery (1937)
Lady Mystery In New York (1939)
Lady Mystery And The Phantom (1940)
The Curse Of Lady Mystery (1942)
Lady Mystery (1982)
Lady Mystery: The Haunted City (1987)

Pat Savage And The Secret Of The Sun (1941)
Pat Savage And The Hidden City (1943)
Pat Savage In China (1944)
Pat Savage And The Curse Of The Cat (1947)
The Heart Of Dracula: A Pat Savage Adventure (1980)
Miss Murder: A Pat Savage Adventure (1983)
Spring Heeled Jack: A Pat Savage Adventure (1986)

The Avenger (1943)
Five Gold Rings (1945)

The Spider Strikes (1941)
The Spider On The Docks (1942)
The Spider Goes To War (1942)
The Spider: Master of Men (1954)

Secret Agent X (1941)

The Phantom Detective (1939)
The Phantom Detective VS Crime (1941)

G-8 And His Battle Aces (1938)
G-8 And The Death Squadron (1940)

G-8: Flying Ace (1973)

The Black Bat (1940)
The Black Bat Strikes Again (1942)
Mystery Of The Black Bat (1951)

The Continental Op (1941)

The Domino Lady (1940)
The Domino Lady Sets A Trap (1942)