War draws closer: Doc Savage Meets the All-White Elf and the Golden Man (#SFWApro)

THE ALL-WHITE ELF starts off with an interesting protagonist, Arnold Haatz. Unlike the typical young drifter or woman in distress Dent uses regularly in this period, Haatz is a middle-aged civil service functionary whose past is more colorful than his office could guess (service in the army, rode with Pancho Villa). When, like so many Dent characters, he discovers something horrible, he calls in Doc Savage.

Then Haatz encounters the white creature of the title, blazing with an unearthly glow that leaves Haatz and others temporarily blind and disoriented. Doc and crew are as vulnerable to this mystery thing as everyone else, but of course, Doc soon starts to figure out how it works.

It’s fairly obvious that it’s a crooked operation, and it turns out to involve a shipment of gold some European nation is sending over to store in the US (presumably to keep it out of Axis hands). The elf is the super-weapon that will help the crooks get it.

It’s a solid story, though unusual in that the guy with the mystery weapon isn’t planning to take over the world or sell it to one side or the other in the war, just to steal.

THE GOLDEN MAN is the one where the war really plays a role. It opens with Monk and Ham returning from Europe, where they’ve actually been thinking about volunteering for the war (again, Dent don’t specify which side, which might have implied he was taking sides, something a lot of people still frowned upon). Doc however, calls them home first. On the way back by transatlantic ship, they discover the eponymous figure of the title, floating in a weirdly shining patch of ocean under a dark star in the heavens.

The guy turns out to be a precog, knowing all kinds of stuff about the people on board and predicting correctly that the ship the guys are on will be sunk by a foreign sub (using the other side’s colors in hopes of turning the US against them, a fear Dent also touched on in Devils of the Deep). The ship is hit, but everyone makes it too land in Central America. Where Monk and Ham are promptly arrested as suspicious aliens, part of the villain’s plan to get them out of the way.

By the time they get back to NYC with Doc, the Golden Man has been set up as the head of a cult thanks to his strange psychic gifts. Which he demonstrates to Doc by revealing the location of Doc’s birth (on the steamer Orion), something nobody knows (although it’s not exactly a blockbuster revelation, more like a trivia note). What’s the dude’s secret? Or that of the black star?

It turns everything has a perfectly mundane, if not dull explanation. The golden man was an amnesiac British spy, which is how he knows so much about everything. The glow was a side-effect of a new anti-submarine weapon; the black star was just a fluke, smoke from his exploding plane that briefly looked like a star. It’s almost an interesting twist, but it comes off rather rushed and a bit of a cheat. A shame as this was fun up to that point.

(Both covers by Emery Clark, all rights remain with current holders)

1 Comment

Filed under Doc Savage, Reading

One response to “War draws closer: Doc Savage Meets the All-White Elf and the Golden Man (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Waves of Death unleash a Time Terror: Doc Savage time! | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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