Pulse Fiction Gets A 5-Star Review!

A reviewer using the name novelgirl posted the first review of Bishop and Hancock’s Pulse Fiction. I contributed the opening story to that collection and had a blast doing it.

Here’s what she had to say:

What I love about the New Pulp, is the author’s ability to hold onto the traditional pulp feel of the stories. Each one of the stories included in this volume are exciting, thrill-packed adventures, and the authors make you cheer for the hero and boo at the villain. There are paranormal stories of characters with super abilities, slick thieves who’ll charm you out of your jewels. Some stories have gangsters who enjoy a good shoot-‘em-up, but lose to an unassuming guy who doesn’t want to be a hero. If you’re into gorgeous dames and big dumb lugs and unpretentious heroes, you won’t be disappointed. This is volume of short pulpy stories for you.

At the heart of Bishop and Hancock’s Pulse Fiction Volume 1, are stories of regular men and women who defy the odds and save the day. Those stories inspire me. I recommend this book to all those not feint of heart who love a great story told in the true culture of fabulous pulp.

Thanks for the kind words! I really enjoyed those characters and would love to return to them someday.

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My Favorite Pulp & Pulp-Influenced Movies

200px-Indiana_Jones_in_Raiders_of_the_Lost_ArkThere’s a lot of great pulp-influenced movies out there — here’s a quick rundown of some of my favorites. Check ‘em out if you haven’t already!

First up is, of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark. All the Indiana Jones films are great but you gotta start with the first (and best).

Next, we have The Shadow. I know a lot of people don’t care for the Alec Baldwin flick but I thought it was great fun, even if it took some liberties.

The first two Mummy movies are wonderful fun — in fact, The Rook’s wife Evelyn was inspired by the female lead in these films.

Lee Falk’s Phantom came to life in a fun-filed movie starring Billy Zane. Is it perfect? No. But it’s still wonderful — and my young son really enjoyed it.

And finally, The Rocketeer. Based on the Dave Stevens’ comic, this was a fun little film — and features the deliciously lovely Jennifer Connelly.

What are some of your faves?

What’s Going On?

1335184765-Knhyugmoijmlop-Not much, at least writing-wise. I continue to work 12 and 13 hour days at the new job and when I’m not doing something related to that, I’m usually reading, spending time with my family or just trying to relax.

I do know that a number of projects should see print soon — Lazarus Gray Volume Five, The Rook Volume Three Special Edition, Gravedigger Volume Two and a few special projects for Pro Se’s Single Shots line should all be released before the year is up.

I wish I could tell you that the crossover novel would, too, but that’s not likely to happen — it’s stuck at around 37,000 words right now.

In terms of television, Orphan Black wrapped up a great second season and I’m currently enjoying Halt and Catch Fire, a computer-industry series set in the 1980s and airing on AMC. Good stuff with excellent work from actor Lee Pace. Highly recommended.

In comics, I’m loving Original Sin, Amazing Spider-Man, Justice League (regular and United) and Batman and… (written by Peter Tomasi). Lots of good stuff.

I’ll be back soon, folks. Hang in there!

My Favorite Comic Book Stories

jla-200Welcome back to Ye Olde Blog!

I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about some of my favorite comic book stories today — some are storylines/epics, others are one-off issues. Most of them come from my younger days because nostalgia rules us all, don’t you know?

Here are a few of my faves:

JLA/Avengers by Kurt Busiek & George Perez – I was gutted when the original was scuttled back in the Eighties but this was a worthy substitute and I still pull it out to re-read on occasion. Great art and a wonderful story.

JLA 200 – This was an all-star extravaganza with a wonderful wraparound cover by George Perez. Basically, the original 7 Leaguers are mind-controlled and forced to fight the newer members of the League, with each chapter drawn by a different superstar artist (like Brian Bolland & Jim Aparo!). This was the gold standard anniversary issue to which I hold all others. Written by Gerry Conway.

The Great Darkness Saga by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen. Amazing artwork, a tense story and the greatest use of Darkseid EVER. I was already a Legion fan but this put me over the top.

New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman & George Perez. The whole damned thing.

Excalibur by Chris Claremont and/or Alan Davis. See New Teen Titans.

Sinestro Corps War by Geoff Johns. Loved it and it flowed smoothly into the later (also excellent) Blackest Night.

The FF/Nova crossover by Marv Wolfman. I really dug this when I was a kid, all the way up to the amazing Galactus/Sphinx battle.

Crisis on Infinite Earths — the greatest “crossover” of all time. When the first issue came out, I was so excited that I asked my mom to run out and buy it as soon as it hit the stands. I bought two issues of every issue — one to save and one to read. My “reader” copies were read so much they fell to pieces.

Action Comics by Marv Wolfman & Gil Kane. I was a huge fan of this run at the time and I was thrilled when it was reprinted in a big glossy hardcover.

The Hobgoblin Saga by Roger Stern. This blew me away as a kid and I still re-read it (and Stern’s return with Hobgoblin Lives!). Great stuff with some awesome JR Jr artwork.

The Generations Saga by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway — As a major fan of the Earth-Two heroes, I was psyched beyond belief to see the JSA and their kids interacting. Classic stuff.

All-Star Comics – The entire 1970s run by Gerry Conway and Paul Levitz. I adore it. I treasure it. It rocks so hard. That first issue with the cover announcing the arrival of the “All-Star Super Squad” is one of the greatest memories I have as a young comics fan.

What are some of your favorites?

Liberty Girl Gets A New Five Star Review!

Raven posted the following review of Liberty Girl on Amazon:

Liberty Girl by Barry Reese Based on the work of Dennis Mallonee

The Liberty Girl is in reality Elena Hunter, daughter of a certain bronze skinned adventurer of the 30’s and 40’s. Once part of a group of super-powered adventures known as The Vanguard of Freedom; The Liberty Girl has been missing in action for fifty years. Until today—

Senator Ted Brooks, once a famous lawyer and member of Elena’s father’s Fabulous Five, has been looking for signs of the return of Elena or her father for decades. When a storm of unknown power rips through a US Army monitoring base in Yucca Flats, Lt. Colonel Jacqueline Daniels knows the implications. Either Elena or her father has returned. It turns out to be Elena. The date is July 4, 2006.

Liberty Girl’s return is soon tested by a being known as Daemon Kruze. But the barriers Elena’s father placed around an entrance to hell still hold. But another super-powered villain appears, as Zachary Telsa uses his grandfather’s Zapper costume to endeavor to get revenge for the old man’s death at the hands of Liberty girl decades before.

And so it goes. Life in a post 9/11 world is far different than the world Elena is used to. The press is more demanding. Every move that she makes, no matter how heroic, is viewed under the microscope of public opinion. Other powerful enemies arise. Through it all, Liberty Girl must stay true to herself. She is a champion of liberty. Friends die. Bad guys cause havoc. But she must stay the course of truth, justice, and the American way.

Barry Reese (The Rook, Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger) does a wonderful job of presenting this tale of the Liberty Girl. With his usual flare for pulp action, he makes every page interesting; every paragraph a building block for the story he is creating.

I give his book a perfect five stars out of five for pure pulp action and madness! I can hardly wait for other books Barry Reese has announced to be released! Encore!

Quoth the Raven…

Thanks, Raven! It was fun working on this project and I look forward to whatever future books Pro Se releases with the character!

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The Secret Origin of The Claws of The Rook

claws_front_smallAfter I’d finished the fourth volume in the Rook series, it occurred to me that I’d introduced quite a few supporting characters that were worthy of stories in their own right: Leonid Kaslov, Catalyst, Revenant, Rachel Winters, Frankenstein’s Monster, etc. I decided it would make perfect sense to throw some of those characters together and create a spinoff project from The Rook Chronicles. I decided to leave out Kaslov and focus on the other four heroes I just mentioned, allowing The Rook to serve as their funding agent. I wanted to do the pulp equivalent of the old Batman and the Outsiders series: Batman brought together heroes to serve as his private strike force, handling things he didn’t have the time to do.

This strike force would be known as The Claws of The Rook, or simply “The Claws.”

The Claws of the Rook were meant to be introduced in their own volume, which would be set in-between volumes 4 and 5 of The Rook. The Rook would appear in a major fashion in the first story, then fade into the background, to be used as needed. The first story (“The Diabolical Mr. Dee”) was written and I think it turned out fairly well, though I was obviously still finding my footing with the series.

Then came “A Plague of Wicked Men.”

I forget who came up with the idea of teaming the various Wild Cat Books heroes into one story but I know that Don Lee, Wayne Skiver, the Carney brothers, Ron Hanna and I were all involved in the plotting of the story, which would pit the heroes against a grouping of evil villains. Ron and Wayne wanted to kick the story off by killing an established pulp hero and they chose to make Captain Hazzard the sacrifice. I was worried about how this would look, since Hazzard was very closely identified with the editor-in-chief of one of Wild Cat’s major rivals but I wasn’t really the mover and shaker in the plotting. A scene (by Wayne) was written in which Hazzard was killed and I know Don Lee wrote a scene where the villains first came together.

Then, as is common in these sorts of things, the writers began flaking out. One person had legal issues, another had concerns about the plot, etc. The project seemed dead.

Then I asked if I could take the plot and twist it into a Claws of The Rook plot, rewriting the scenes already completed and tweaking it all into something that I felt I could handle on my own. Everyone seemed fine with that and Wayne was gracious enough to allow me to keep his character Prof. Stone in the story. I threw in the Black Bat, Ascott Keane and Ki-Gor to make it even bigger. The story turned out fairly well, though it struggled a bit under its own weight. There were elements of the original plot that I was asked to keep that I would have preferred to jettison but I worked with what I had.

There were now two Claws tales…

And then the decision was made to scuttle the Claws spinoff. Sales on the most recent volume of The Rook had been weaker than expected and it was decided to not dilute the brand at this point.

So what to do? I didn’t want to just shelve those stories but at the same time I was feeling burned out on The Rook and didn’t really feel like doing a solo Rook collection, either.

It was decided to take the two Claws stories and put them into The Rook Volume Five. A couple more Claws/Rook stories were added to flesh out the volume and voila, we had a book.

But it wasn’t a very good book, in my opinion. It suffered from the fact that you had a book entitled The Rook that spent a lot of time with the Rook not in it — I was fleshing out characters for their own series, remember, so I had deliberately tried to push The Rook into the background of those stories.

It was published, people seemed to regard it as weaker than its predecessors but still good.

Here’s where all the individual members of the team first appeared:

  • Catalyst (Nathaniel Caine) first appeared in “Catalyst” in The Rook Volume Three. The story is set in 1942.
  • Esper (Rachel Winters, later Rachel Caine) first appeared in “Catalyst” in The Rook Volume Three. As stated before, the story is set in ’42.
  • Revenant (Sally Pence) first appeared in “Death From the Jungle” in The Rook Volume Four. The story is set in 1943.
  • Vincent (aka Frankenstein’s Monster) first appeared in “Satan’s Trial” in The Rook Volume Four. This story occurs in late 1943, after “Death From the Jungle.”

The group comes together as The Claws of the Rook in 1944, operating out of a two-story house on Peachtree Street nicknamed The Aerie. The group’s meeting room was in the finished basement and there was an extensive library and armory on the second floor. The team first appeared together in “The Diabolical Mr. Dee” before teaming up with several other pulp heroes in “A Plague of Wicked Men.” Both of those adventures were set in ’44. In 1946, they took part in the missions dubbed “The Devil’s Spear” and “The Ivory Machine.” During the latter story, their ranks swelled with the additions of The Black Terror and his partner Tim, Miss Masque, and The Flame. All of those stories were recorded in The Rook Volume Five.

Nothing is known about the majority of the members past ’46, though in one possible future (“The Four Rooks,” The Rook Volume Four), we see that Catalyst is still alive into the 21st Century, having outlived his wife. Given that everything shown in the series post 2006 is just a potential future, it’s not carved in stone that this is anyone’s ultimate fate, however.

I sometimes miss these characters but I’m uncertain if anybody would really want to see them revived. If I do, I’m not certain that the public domain heroes like The Black Terror and Miss Masque will remain with the group — I’d suspect that they’ll become secondary members, who might pop up if needed. I’d probably keep the focus on the main four (plus The Rook).

What do you guys say? Anybody want to see these heroes return?

A Brief Update

20140704-142503-51903728.jpg“So, Barry, have you written anything lately?”

“No!”

That’s pretty much the truth. I’ve been working a few 12 hour days lately and this hasn’t left any time for my writing career. As such, the crossover novel is stalled at the midway point and the two new characters I’ve come up are not being worked on at present.

Hopefully, things will calm down at some point. Fingers crossed!

Our art today is the cover to The Rook Special Edition Volume Three – which should be coming your way in September.