Another Crossover Review

Amazon user ChickJ posted a 4-star review of Gotterdammerung, the crossover novel that brought nearly all my heroes into one big adventure. 

Here’s the review:

An action packed jumble of old time pulp stars and a few new ones. Barry Reese writes simple short tales. Nothing is drawn out. But the action flows and are fun to read. It is like eating chips, you can’t stop at one. So addicting to true pulp lovers. Excuse me, I just downloaded Lazaus Gray 6 and the Gravedigger #1.

Thank you! Yeah, I’m not trying to write The Great American Novel – I’m trying to entertain and provide you with a few hours of escapism. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 

Please let us know what you think of the other books!

“Custer’s Ghost”: A New Pulp Review

Ron Fortier’s Captain Hazzard series is one of New Pulp’s best and it does that rarest of feats – it gets better as it goes along. This is the fifth entry and it’s by far the best.

This one features an old west theme as Custer’s ghost is apparently on the loose and a group of Skinwalkers has joined its ghostly cause. Along for the ride is Jim Anthony, the classic pulp hero dubbed ‘The Super Detective.” Fortier does a great job of balancing Hazzard and Anthony, giving each moments to shine. Hazzard gets a fantastic action sequence at one point wearing a Rocketeer-style jet pack, battling fighter planes. Anthony’s best sequence features him going toe-to-toe with the leader of the Skinwalkers.

There’s plenty of romance, too, as we’re introduced to the lovely Dancing Moon and see the return of Azlea O’Hara, who continues pining after Hazzard in humorous fashion.

The cover by Pat Carbajal is fantastic and Rob Davis is back again to depict the heroes in a series of interior pieces.

Highly recommended!

Pulp Fiction Reviews Looks at “Die Glocke”

Ron Fortier, legendary New Pulp author, has posted a review of the second Lazarus Gray volume at his blog. Here’s what he had to say:

This is the second collection of stories featuring the reborn hero, Lazarus Gray. A one time member of the all powerful secret cabal known as the Illuminati, Gray arrived in Sovereign City washing up on the morning tide with no memory of his past. Volume One told of his struggles to uncover that mystery at the same time introduced us to the amazing trio that would become his partners in Assistance Unlimited; lethal lovely Samantha Grace, former con-artist Morgan Watts and Korean martial artist Eun Jiwon.

In this rip-roaring second outing, Gray and company find themselves traveling the globe to stop would be villains from obtaining all manners of occult power. From the barren wastelands of Mongolia to the green fields of England and the hidden jungles of South America. No place is too remote for this daring quartet. Along the way they encounter old foes from Walther Lunt, the twisted German scientist, to the ancient Princess Femi. Then they are pitted against new creatures of evil such as the monstrous Jack-in-Irons, a towering behemoth with a boars head and unleashed on earth via a powerful arcane construct known as the Bell; i.e. Die Glocke from the title. There’s also the murderous Titan, a man of superhuman strength.

Our love of this series comes from Reese’s own unabashed fun in whipping up the most far fetched, outlandish plots, creating charismatic heroes and villains and then delivering rock solid action sequences that have us jumping up and down with joy. Reese gets pulp, he breathes it into every single page he writes. Consider his seductive femme fatales such the previously mentioned Egyptian Mummy Princes Femi and then there’s the so seductive Japanese Miya Shimada, who’s only weakness is her love for Gray. Which in turns leads to one of the most unique plot endings ever envisioned in a pulp tale.

As if that wasn’t enough, this adventure packed book introduces us to two new members of the team; German officer Jakob Sporrenberg and beautiful witch Abigail Cross. Then, in the very last tale, Gray and his allies meet the Golden Age comic hero the Black Terror in one of the strangest crossovers ever imagined.

Honestly, there aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary to properly applaud this book. Note, it was first published in 2012 and we’re playing catch up here. There are several more volumes awaiting us and for that this reviewer is so damn happy.
Thanks for those kind words, Ron! For those who don’t know, Ron’s Hounds of Hell novel is what first gave me the inspiration to create my own foray into New Pulp. While I’d grown up as a fan of the classic heroes, it wasn’t until I saw Ron’s work that I realized there was an audience (besides me) that wanted to see new pulp-inspired tales!

So, thanks again, Ron!

The Secret Origin of The Claws of The Peregrine

claws_front_smallAfter I’d finished several stories in The Peregrine 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 Peregrine Chronicles. I decided to leave out Kaslov and focus on the other four heroes I just mentioned, allowing The Peregrine 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 Peregrine, or simply “The Claws.”

The Claws of the Peregrine were originally meant to be introduced in their own volume. The Peregrine 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 Peregrine 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 Peregrine 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 Peregrine and didn’t really feel like doing a solo Peregrine collection, either.

It was decided to take the two Claws stories and put them into The Peregrine Volume Five. A couple more Claws/Peregrine 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 Peregrine that spent a lot of time with The Peregrine not in it — I was fleshing out characters for their own series, remember, so I had deliberately tried to push The Peregrine 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.” The story is set in 1942. A predecessor named Andre Theirry also used the Catalyst identity in a series of adventures alongside Lazarus Gray in the 1937-1938 period of time.
  • Esper (Rachel Winters, later Rachel Caine) also first appeared in “Catalyst”. As stated before, the story is set in ’42.
  • Revenant (Sally Pence) first appeared in “Death From the Jungle”. The story is set in 1943.
  • Vincent (aka Frankenstein’s Monster) first appeared in “Satan’s Trial”. This story occurs in late 1943, after “Death From the Jungle.”

The group comes together as The Claws of the Peregrine 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 are now available in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two.

Nothing is known about the majority of the members past ’46, though in one possible future (“The Four Peregrines”), 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 Peregrine).

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

Current Activities

rookclaws1_catalyst_smallThis week is being spent doing some additions to the Captain Action novel — I’m pretty proud of how this book has turned out and I’m really curious to see if folks that enjoyed the first two books by Jim Beard will like this one. The majority of the plot of this book came from Jim with most of the writing being done by me — with significant contributions and oversight from  Jim. I think the meshing of our styles has produced something quite unique.

Next week I’ll return to working on Nightveil. I’m about 20% of the way through that one so if things go well I will finish it sometime in April (fingers crossed). I’m having a blast writing this character!

George Sellas is going to be working soon on a new cover… for quite awhile, I’ve thought about having some sort of sourcebook for my universe. It would contain bios, essays, the timeline, etc. Do any of you have an interest in that sort of thing?

I have to finish Lazarus Gray Volume 8 and write the first volume of Assistance Unlimited: The Silver Age in 2017 but then I got an idea for a new iteration of Gravedigger… I need more time in the day!

Thanks to everyone for supporting the release of Lazarus Gray Volume 6 — sales are brisk and I appreciate all the fans of Assistance Unlimited.

Our art today is of my character Catalyst — he’s popped up in several Peregrine stories and is a member of The Claws of the Peregrine team in the late 1940s. A predecessor of his appeared in several Lazarus Gray tales, as well. He’s actually one of my oldest surviving characters, having been created way back in 1986! This image is by Anthony Castrillo.

 

The First Review of Volume Six!

Amazon user Raven has given us our first review of Lazarus Gray Volume Six. He gives it 5 stars and says:

Possible SPOILERS alert!

At the end of Barry Reese’s crossover novel, Götterdämmerung, Lazarus Gray is killed fighting Darhoth, the Mother of Pus. Now his wife Kelly Emerson Gray refuses to believe that there is no way to revive him. After all, Assistance Unlimited has seen far too many impossible things before breakfast. Friends and foes have seemingly perished, only to show up later on; somehow revived and refreshed.

The first story in Volume Six, “The Affair of the Familiar Corpse,” has Assistance Unlimited with a case to solve minus their intrepid leader. But there is Bob Benton, the man known as The Black Terror. While he is not Lazarus Gray, his super-strength and nigh invulnerability makes the Terror and his sidekick Tim a force to be reckoned with! The Librarian and his red robed underlings must learn that Lazarus Gray’s little band of adventurers are still on the job.

In the next adventure, “The Strands of Fate,” Lazarus Gray’s body is missing from the gigantic freezer in the basement at 6196 Roberson Avenue. It looks as though he walked out—by what means no one is sure. Meanwhile, the crew must go on. New enemies appear, and old friends return. Mr. Death, The Flame, and the Ten Fingers show up as enemies. The Heap and Nakam are new allies, while Eidolon and Abigail Cross return to aid their friends. A man looking like Lazarus Gray has been spotted in Transylvania… Makes pulp fans mouths water, I assure you!

The next tale is called “Nemesis.” Lazarus Gray is back with Assistance Unlimited. Old foes Princess Femi and Madison Montgomery resurface. With the aid of Paul Alfred Müller-Murnau, they seek to make Femi’s cult of the Undying a legit tax-free religion. Of course there is something about Müller-Murnau that makes Femi’s choice of prime importance. If she is correct, Müller-Murnau can be far more useful to her than simply a way to hide her vast resources and gaining tax free status! Then there is this mysterious tablet…

The final tale is called “Tapestry.” In Paris, Lazarus and Samantha are confronting a familiar enemy—The Warlike Manchu. Back home the Heap is dealing with his sudden arrival in Sovereign City. A young girl seeks help for a Golem on the loose. A new Nazi super-soldier, Heidi von Sinn decides that the Golem is perfect for her mission to retrieve a mysterious idol from the Natural History Museum…

And the tales go on…

Barry Reese has proven himself time and time again as an absolute master of the pulp genre. The four stories that make up this novel are Reese at his best, a spicy story served up cooked to perfection. I don’t know if I should call it raw, because it is raw pulp—or best served cold, as Lazarus Gray’s brand of vengeance is dealt out in full measure. But I know what I like, and this is superb!

I give the book five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…
Thanks for that great review, Raven! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed it. I’ve already written Volume 7 so hopefully you won’t have long to wait for more adventures!

The Adventures Continue!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!

NOT EVEN DEATH STOPS A HERO- ‘THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME SIX’ DEBUTS!

THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY appeared to end in the aftermath of GOTTERDAMERUNG with Lazarus Gray making the ultimate sacrifice, but all may not be as it seems. Pro Se Productions and its author centered imprint Reese Unlimited proudly announce the release of THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME SIX, now available in print and digital formats.

“Lazarus Gray,” says Tommy Hancock of Pro Se Productions, “is one of the most popular characters New Pulp has yet to produce. Combining all the necessities a classic Pulp hero should have with the emotional weight and modern relevance the writing of Barry Reese brings into play makes Gray a staggering figure in genre fiction today. And this sixth volume of tales only ups the ante that much more, bringing a focus on not only Gray’s companions, but really centering on the importance of a single man to the battle for justice.”

The only clue to his identity was a small medallion with the words ‘Lazarus Gray’ stamped upon it. He took that name and became one of Sovereign City’s greatest heroes, and formed an alliance with other lost souls like himself. Together they were Assistance Unlimited…and now they face their greatest loss ever! 

As the remaining members of Assistance Unlimited resume their lives, they find new allies and old who intend to honor the memory of the man who brought them together… 

…but as they plunge into a new mystery, they find themselves facing the possibility that the death of Lazarus Gray may not have been the end for him after all… 

Prepare to walk the shadowy worlds of death and life as a new chapter begins in THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME SIX!

Featuring a fantastic cover by Ted Hammond, wonderful interior illustrations by George Sellas, and print formatting and cover design by Sean E. Ali, THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME SIX is available now at Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Lazarus-Gray-Six/dp/1544184522/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488468493&sr=8-1&keywords=lazarus+gray+volume+six and Pro Se’s own store at http://www.prose-press.com for 15.00.  

The sixth volume is also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by Antonino Lo Iacono and Marzia Marina for only $2.99 for the Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Lazarus-Gray-Six-ebook/dp/B06XCQTWXT/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1488468493&sr=8-2&keywords=lazarus+gray+volume+six and for most digital formats via Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/707363.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at directorofcorporateoperations@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to http://www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.