Two New Lazarus Gray Volume 5 Reviews

lg10_assistance_unlimited_color_smallOver on the Pulp Super-Fan Blog, Michael Brown posted the following review:

Lazarus Gray is a New Pulp character from writer Barry Reese (The Peregrine, Gravedigger, and other works) with several volumes out so far. Now we get the fifth one.

Gray is sort of inspired by the classic pulp hero The Avenger. He has setup a group similar to The Avenger’s called Assistance Unlimited. He is located in a fictional town called Sovereign City (created by Pro Se Press publisher Tommy Hancock), and is part of the larger Sovereign City Project. He is also set in the same universe as Barry’s other characters, so has crossed over with them.

This volume has five short stories. There are connections between most of the stories, so it’s best to read them in order. The first has a crooked financier who has built a huge zeppelin (for what purpose, is not clear, and not clear what happens to it after the main action) and who is after treasure on an outlying island from Sovereign City. This leads to his death and the release of an ancient evil.

The second story has Gray and associates heading to Cape Noire, where Ron Fortier‘s Brother Bones operates.

The third story introduces a new foe, the Basilisk, who can kill with a glance. He is trying to take over the gangs of Sovereign City, and before AU can take him out, decides to strike out at Gray through his girlfriend.

The fourth story deals with the evil released in the first story: the Three Sisters. Assisting Gray and associates is Catalyst. But not the Catalyst we are introduced in the Peregrine series, but his predecessor. While they take care of the Three Sisters, Gray’s old foe Princess Femi, is released. Am sure she will be dealt with in a future story.

The fifth and last story deals with Gray’s marriage to Kelly Emerson. We get cameos of several characters from the series in this one. I was surprised by a couple that appeared. He also has his new character, the Dark Gentleman as well. I think he’s only appeared in one short ebook story, and it also set in Sovereign City. I hope we see more of him, maybe enough for his own volume. It remains to see how Gray’s marriage will affect the series going forward. Pulp heroes getting married is pretty much unheard of, but he had the Peregrine do so and it didn’t hurt that series.

Rounding out the volume is the two-page comic book origin of Gray, and a timeline of Reese’s works. However, this one is missing most of the later Peregrine volumes, most likely because they have not yet be converted over from using the Rook name.

I’m not sure what we will see next from Reese. I know that he has been working on a crossover work, which I think is next, that has Peregrine, Gray, and Gravedigger. I look forward to it. I would love to see a new Gravedigger work as well, and wonder when we’ll see another solo Peregrine story or a full Dark Gentleman volume.

Meanwhile, reader Jose Rivera said:

In this latest volume of Lazarus Gray we saw 3 witches unleashed, Lazarus going out of Sovereign to investigate the vigilante Brother Bones, we had a surprising reveal of The Basilisk, the return of an old enemy and a wedding. You think that sounds very complicated, but it’s not. This volume is broken up into 5 short stories which could be read on their own but have a running thread. This reminded me of the first volume of Lazarus Gray and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Getting a new volume of Lazarus Gray is something to look forward to. Reese makes it so that if you’re new, you’re not lost, but if you’ve been reading since the beginning, it’s like visiting old friends. These stories are amazing fun and deserve your time.

Can’t wait to see where we go from here!

Thanks, guys! I’m glad you both enjoyed the book and you’ll be glad to know that I’m working on Volume Six right now.

Yeah, I’d Like To Write That…

challengers-kirbyI was able to write one of my all-time favorite pulp heroes — The Avenger — for Moonstone. Twice!

I’ve also written The Green Hornet, G-8 and His Battle Aces, The Black Bat, The Black Terror and lots more. I’ve written sourcebooks that were all about Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers and a lot more…

But there are still some dream projects out there that I’d like to tackle:

Batman. I’ve read some good Batman prose novels but I’d love to handle Bruce Wayne and company just once. I think it would be a blast.

The Shadow. Taking on Walter Gibson’s signature character would be intimidating as hell but I’d jump at the opportunity.

Conan. I’m not sure I’d ever be able to live up to the passion of Robert E. Howard’s writing but I’d give it my best shot.

Airboy. I’m not too big on aerial pulp, despite having written both Richard Knight and G-8… but Airboy’s appearances in the Chuck Dixon comic book series made me a fan.

Challengers of the Unknown. I didn’t much care for the Ron Goulart novel that came out way back when… I like to think I could do better. The themes and characters are right up my alley.

Seekay. One of the greatest obscure pulp characters ever!

Norgil the Magician. Walter Gibson’s *other* great hero. I have a ton of ideas for this crime-solving magician.

The Phantom. Lee Falk’s classic hero would be a blast to write!

 

July 2015 Updates

RU Ad smaller_smallerFinished off the first story in what will eventually be The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Six – it turned out quite well, adding a new member to Assistance Unlimited, dealing with the fallout from the “crossover novel” and even tying in to several old Lazarus stories.

Now I’m doing research for the second story – the history of the NSDAP Office for Enlightenment on Population Policy and Racial Welfare is dominating my reading at the moment. Interesting – and scary! – stuff. I hope it will translate into a good story for you guys.

Posted a mini episode of The Shadow Fan’s Podcast a few weeks ago. Hopefully I’ll do more soon. We’ll see – cross your fingers for me!

I’ve heard from the guys at Pro Se that not only will my Ki-Gor stories (originally written for Wild Cat Books) be coming back in some form but the crossover novel is indeed scheduled to appear before the end of the year. I had hoped that Mark Propst would be doing some interiors for the big crossover book but unfortunately that won’t be the case. Sorry, my friends.

The first omnibus edition of The Peregrine is flying off the shelves — it’s a doozy in print form. You can use this thing to prop open doors or even as a weapon. Look for the second volume (collecting the old volumes 4-6 of Max Davies under his “other identity”). I continue to get asked why Max is now known as The Peregrine — suffice to say, legalities were involved and we’re all fine with the new identity.

My old buddy George Sellas will be contributing some new images for Lazarus Gray Volume 6 so those of you who missed his work on volume 5 should be quite pleased with that news.

Stay pulpy!

My Favorite Shadow Novels

death_towerAs most of you know, I’m a big fan of The Shadow – in fact, I host a podcast entitled The Shadow Fan. Today I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite Shadow novels, so that if you are looking to jump into the series, you’ll have some recommendations about where to start. These are by no means all the great Shadow stories — it’s just a handful that I really love. In addition, there are still Shadow novels that I haven’t read yet — so I might go back and add to this list as time passes.

To be honest, I think it’s a great idea to simply start with the first story and go forward — but that’s not always possible, I know. So here are my favorites, in order of publication:

The Living Shadow – April 1, 1931

The Eyes of The Shadow – July-September 1931

The Shadow Laughs – October 1, 1931

Gangdom’s Doom – December 1, 1931

The Death Tower – January 1, 1932

The Ghost of the Manor – June 15, 1933

Murder Every Hour – June 1, 1935

The London Crimes – September 15, 1935

The Sledge-Hammer Crimes – August 1, 1936

Crime, Insured – July 1, 1937

The Shadow Unmasks – August 1, 1937

The Green Hoods – August 15, 1938

Death From Nowhere – July 15, 1939

The Golden Master – September 15, 1939

Shiwan Khan Returns – December 1, 1939

The Invincible Shiwan Khan – March 1, 1940

The Prince of Evil – April 15, 1940

Masters of Death – May 15, 1940

Murder Genius – July 1, 1940

The Man Who Died Twice – September 15, 1940

The Devil’s Paymaster – November 15, 1940

The Thunder King – June 15, 1941

The Devil Master – September 15, 1941

Temple of Crime – November 15, 1941

The Book of Death – January 15, 1942

Death’s Bright Finger – May 15, 1942

The Vampire Murders – September 1, 1942

The Black Dragon – March 1, 1943

The Sinister Shadow – 2015

The Rave Reviews Keep Rolling In!

lg4_frontispiece_smallLongtime reader Pat Casey has reviewed the newest Lazarus Gray volume on Amazon.ca and this is what he had to say as he gave it five-stars:

Lazarus Gray and Assistance Unlimited finally return in five stellar tales in Lazarus Gray Vol. 5.

I have been waiting for months for Pro Se and Reese Unlimited to release this new volume. It was worth the wait!

“The Felonious Financer” introduces us to Wilson Brisk, a wealthy business man who uses his underworld connections in Sovereign City to track down the missing treasure of Hendrik Van der Decken(an infamous pirate). Brisk has financed an incredible air weapon, crewed by a group of top notch female pilots/bodygurads, who come against Assistance Unlimited. What exactly is the treasure? Will it mean certain doom to the residents of Sovereign? You’ll have to read to find out!

“Shadows & Phantoms” has Lazarus Gray on the hunt for Brother Bones, a pulp crime fighter created by writer Ron Fortier. Assistance Unlimited must determine if the Undead Avenger is simply a man taking the law into his own hands, or a true”ghost who walks” on a mission of vengeance. Will Gray join Brother Bones’ crusade to rid Cape Noir of local crime boss Sabastian Hawkes? Will Brother Bones let Assistance Unlimited walk away from Cape Noir unscathed?

“Stare of The Basilisk” introduces a new crime lord in Sovereign City, one who can kill with a simple glance. This masked man tries to unify the various gangs under his rule. Those who oppose him will meet certain death. How will Lazarus Gray face a being who can kill with a blink of an eye? How many will die under the Basilisk’s stare?

“Immortals” ties the book together when Assistance Unlimited butt heads against three beautiful but deadly beings from ancient times. We also see the return of the dark queen Princess Femi, who intends to lead the Immortals to world conquest. Assistance Unlimited is joined by an elder sorcerer who aims to destroy Femi and her cohorts. Egyptian god Sobek also appears, but will he kill Lazarus Gray and any others in his hunt for Femi?

“Wedding Bells” is the final entry in this volume and is more of an epilogue of sorts. Lazarus Gray and Kelly Emerson are ready to tie the knot. How will Assistance Unlimited ensure the safety of Lazarus and Kelly? Grey has made his share of enemies in five volumes!

The excellent cover art is by Chris Batista. “Lazarus Gray -Secrets of The Dead” illustrated story by Reese and George Sellas starts this volume (as it has in volume 3 & 4) with only one other piece of interior art (which may have been used in a previous Gray volume) in the book.

It is unfortunate that Pro Se no longer emphasizes interior art in their pulp printings. These images, when posted online, started the wheels in motion, the chain of excitement that a new Reese Unlimited pulp novel was coming out. They were great for marketing purposes and George Sellas is one damn fine artist! Having these illustrations reminds me of how old pulps had b&w interior art that was done by the best artist in the business. Hopefully we can see Sellas and Reese collaborate together in the future. Their illustrated story shows they work very well together. In fact I would love to see an art book published featuring Sellas’ Reese Unlimited work

Lazarus Gray, The Peregrine, Gravedigger, The Darkling, Leonid Kaslov, the list goes on and on. Barry Reese has introduced characters that can cross over to any media: graphic novels, animation, live action. You name it, it could happen. I’m always entertained by his work and I’m patiently waiting to read Gotterdammerung, his highly anticipated team up novel.

Thanks, Pat! I’m really pleased with the reaction we’ve gotten to the newest Lazarus edition. As for the lack of interior art, Pro Se is a great publisher and they’ve made their decision to (for the most part) move forward without interior art for a number of different reasons. I can tell you that there WILL be some interior pieces from George Sellas in Lazarus Gray Volume Six (which I’m now writing).

Thanks again!

Another Lazarus Gray Volume 5 Review!

IMG_6562Our old friend Darkdendale Raven reviewed The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Five and he gave it 5 out of 5 stars. Here’s what he had to say:

Lazarus Gray Is Alive and Well

The latest volume of Lazarus Gray short novellas is filled with the usual earth-shaking prose that readers have come to expect from Barry Reese. Packed with action, with old enemies and new, your Barry Reese experience would not be complete with this new volume. I highly recommend it! It contains:

“The Felonious Financier”

Wilson Brisk, businessman and secret kingpin of crime, searches for a map to the hidden treasure of pirate and ghost-ship Captain Hendrik Van der Decken. The map has been turned over to Lazarus Gray and Assistance, Unlimited. Brisk attacks the Headquarters of Assistance, Unlimited at 6196 Robeson Lane by means of an advanced dirigible called the Skyrider.

Regaining the map, Brisk and company beat Assistance, Unlimited to the treasure. Brisk disappears into the night with the treasure box. But the treasure is one with dire results!

Five out of five stars.

“Shadows and Phantoms”

Assistance, Unlimited is contacted by a crook who wants them to seek out the Undead Avenger of Cape Noir, Brother Bones. By learning who Bones is most likely to target, Gray manages to meet Brother Bones face to face. But this crook Brother Bones is stalking has made a fatal error by kidnapping Bones’ driver Bobby Crandel. There is hell to pay…

Five out of five stars.

“Stare of the Basilisk”

Trouble begins to brew as three immortal sisters are foolishly released from their mystic prisons by the greed of a foolish criminal. The 19th Century’s Catalyst—Andre Thierry—is trying to decide how to get them back in their containers.

Meanwhile a meeting has been called for all the gangs, tongs, and crime families in the city. Morgan Watts goes undercover in order to attend. The meeting has been called by a large man who calls himself The Basilisk. He demands 10% of everyone’s take for what he calls his own leadership and planning. During the meeting, two men die in a way that would make Darth Vader proud.

This leaves two questions: Who is The Basilisk? And just how does this remote killing work?

Five out of five stars.

“Immortals”

The three sisters, Selene, Phoebe, and Fiona have begun to grown in power, and the bodies begin to pile up in their penthouse suite at the Emerald Hotel. Dark energy flows through them, and the Catalyst knows they are a great threat to the world.

Meanwhile, Morgan Watts has brought a girlfriend home to Robeson Avenue. She is an Egyptology enthusiast named Madison Montgomery. Watts shows her three recently acquired sarcophagi covered in hieroglyphics which Lazarus Gray has been unable to open. But they open on their own discharging two Egyptians and the crocodile-headed Egyptian god Sobek.

Sobek and co. are after the undying Princess Femi, currently just ashes in a burial urn. But Madison is tricked into reviving Femi. Sobek and co are slain by Morgan Watts and Eun Jiwon.

The three sisters and Princess Femi attract each other, fueled by the same dark power of soul sucking. Madison is now a handmaiden for Princess Femi

They are challenged to a battle by Lazarus Gray and Assistance, Unlimited, joined by Andre Thierry, the Catalyst. The place chosen seems foolish for someone with Femi’s power—Sovereign City Cemetery!

Five out of five stars.

“Wedding Bells”

This adventure raised more questions for me than it answered. Somehow the adventure felt sort of unfinished. For example, why was the year the marriage took place so important? Second, how did they reach the time and place of the wedding? Maybe I missed something, but this was my second complete reading of the book and I still have questions.

Three out of five stars.

I choose to ignore the problems of this last adventure, which as I say I may be missing something very plain to other readers. I will rate this book based on the first four adventures. And with such tightly written, masterful stories there is no way the book gets less than five out of five stars!

Encore, Barry, encore!

Quoth the Raven…

Thanks, Raven! I always appreciate your in-depth reviews. I had a blast writing volume five and I’m glad that you found it so enjoyable. The Brother Bones team-up was especially fun and I always dig writing Princess Femi.

As for the problems you mentioned with the last story — early on in that one, there’s a scene between Samantha and Kelly where they talk about all of the enemies that Lazarus has and Samantha mentions that he’s going to keep the location of the wedding a secret because of that. That’s why they end up having the wedding where they do – it’s “out of the way” where no enemies can bother them. As for how they got there, Catalyst opens a portal in the next-to-last scene and they step through into the location where the wedding takes place.

Hope that clears things up!

Peregrine Omnibus Gets A Review

An Amazon user named Martin gave The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One 5 stars and declared that it was “New Pulp At Its Best.” Here’s the rest of his review:

If you want action and adventure with interesting heroes and villains you’ve come to the right place. Barry Reese is a shining light in the world of New Pulp. And this is the perfect way to start following the adventures of one of his best characters.Max Davies is a enjoyable character from the very start. You definitely will want to see how he deals with each new threat. Mr. Reese has created a intriguing world for his characters to inhabit. And this is the perfect gateway. Trust me. You will want more.

Thanks, Martin!

Our image today is courtesy of George Sellas.