Doc Savage full name is Clark Savage, Jr., and the son of scientist and adventurer Clark Savage, Sr. Unlike many other pulp heros such as The Shadow, Clark Savage had no special powers, but was both physically and mentally trained from birth by his father and a team of scientists to become the perfect human specimen. He thus posesses peak human capablilities as well as a genius level intellect.
Under his fathers guidence he gained a mastery of numerous fields. HIs original training was as a surgeon, but he was equally skilled in chemistry, electricity, engineering, archeology, and many others. It is frequently mentioned in the adventures that Doc Savage would spend two hours everyday working on his mind and body to further improve his capabilities. This went beyond just physical tests of strength, but also mental exercises in mathematics, identifying certain odors, and testing his hearing.
His father is murdered in the lead-up to the first adventure, The Man of Bronze.
During his various missions Doc has come to rely on a group of five people which are affectionately called the 'fabulous five'. They were experts in their given fields: Andrew Blodgett "Monk" Mayfair (chemistry), Theodore "Ham" Marley Brooks (law), John "Renny" Renwick (civil engineering), Thomas "Long Tom" Roberts (electrical engineering) and William Harper "Johnny" Littlejohn (archeology). Together they fought with Doc in World War I.
He set up a base on the 86th floor of a world famous New York skyscraper (implied but never outright stated as the Empire State Building). For security reasons he installed a private high-speed elevator which alone can reach his office. Doc owns a fleet of cars, trucks, aircraft, and boats which he stores at a secret hangar on the Hudson River, under the name The Hidalgo Trading Company, which is linked to his office by a pneumatic-tube system nicknamed the "flea run." He sometimes retreats to his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic—which pre-dates Superman's similar Fortress of Solitude of the same name.
In early stories the criminals captured by Doc received "a delicate brain operation" to remove their criminal tendencies. The criminals returned to society fully productive and unaware of their criminal past. It was unrevealed why he later gave up this practice.
Doc Savage is described as being a bronze giant with fleck-gold eyes and hair slightly darker bronze in hue than his skin. Dent frequently referred to Doc Savage using metaphors such as "metallic" and "statue of bronze", especially in the pre-WW2 adventures. In the first novel, THE MAN OF BRONZE, Doc's height is 6 feet exactly. Six years afterwords in HEX he has grown an additional eight inches.
As a likely result of his unusual upbringing Doc Savage has a somewhat unusual relationship with those around him. For instance he is known to be short and uncommunitive with even his closest friends. Also for most of his childhood he had no contact with the female sex, so in most instances where he encounters them he seems indifferent or even unaware of their attraction to him. While in later appearences Savage upholds a strict rule against taking human life, his early appearences are marked by remorseles and unhesitant killing. For instance in The Land of Terror snaps a man's neck, shoots a man in the head, and severs anothers hand causing them to bleed to death. He is seen as a very modest man, refusing to employ his abilities for profit or fame, and even willingly gives away credit for his own accomplishments.During times of extreme cencentration he will unconciously emit a faint trilling sound.
Dent described the hero as a mix of Sherlock Holmes' deductive abilities, Tarzan's outstanding physical abilities, Craig Kennedy's scientific education, and Abraham Lincoln's goodness. Due to intensive training from birth and daily two hour exercise he possesses strength, speed, stamina, and reflexes which border on superhuman. It is pointed out on numerous occassions how his abilities greatly surpass those of the greatest olympic athletes. His intelligence is similarly enhanced and he possesses a photographic memory. Doc is a trained physician, surgeon, scientist, adventurer, inventor, explorer, pilot, seaman, as well as a talented classical musician(violin). In addition, he has trained himself to recognize various scents. Doc has mastered several forms of armed and unarmed combat. Despite his distinctive appearance he can disguise himself with remarkable effectiveness, on one occasion even successfully playing the part of a feeble old woman. He also has great control over his voice and can manipulate it for a number of effects. For instance he may use it to inspire awe, confidence or if necessary fear. This control also makes him an excellent imitator of voices. Doc has also proven himself to be a highly capable motorist, safely manuevering around obstacles at top speed. By studying the movements of jungle predators he has learned to move silently in dense woods.
Doc Savage has been known to employ a number of advanced technology. night vision goggles, electromagnetic rail guns, and hand-held automatic weapons called "rapid-firers", although these fired sleep-inducing "mercy bullets" rather than regular lead bullets, in keeping with Doc's firm code against the taking of human life, even the most evil.