I am old enough to remember when drug stores had revolving wire racks filled with inexpensive paperbacks. Mostly genre novels, maybe with a few classics (usually with more than usually lurid covers) thrown in. One of the books you always saw on those racks was a Doc Savage novel.

While browsing at DC’s Lost City Books (formerly Idle Time Books), I saw this in their rack of, let’s call them ‘drugstore paperbacks.’

I was disappointed. I expected the racism (the depictions of Southeast Asians speaking English were horrifying in ways I won’t repeat), but I was also expecting an arresting, if not compelling protagonist. Instead, Doc Savage himself was a blank slate with no apparent inner life nor motivation, which made it hard to enjoy tales of derring do because the derring doer doesn’t seem to have much invested in the derring he’s doing.