Michael Brown reviewed the book over on Amazon — so here’s his review, with my responses sprinkled in. My responses are in bold and italics:
This is a collection of stories of a new neo-pulp character from writer Barry Reese. I have been reading his Rook series (he has other works as well, but those are the ones I’ve been reading). This character, Lazarus Gray, is sort of inspired by the classic pulp hero The Avenger. He is also set in a fictional town called Sovereign City (created by Pro Se publisher Tommy Hancock), part of the “Sovereign City” project that will see collections of at least 2 other characters from Pro Se).
I think we’ll see the Fortune McCall book from Derrick Ferguson next and then Tommy’s Doc Daye. Then you’ll see Lazarus Gray’s next adventure… should be lots of Sovereign stuff in the future.
Lazarus Gray is also set in the same ‘universe’ as Barry’s Rook character, and we get an updated chronology of his “universe” in the back of the book that places both the Lazarus Gray stories (included the next 2 volumes) plus the Rook stories and a few others.
This volume is a collection of 7 Lazarus Gray stories. Three of them previously saw print in Pro Se’s now defunct “Peculiar Adventures Magazine”. And the last story has a team up with the Rook that originally appeared in the Rook v6.
Who is Lazarus Gray? Well, he’d like to know as well. We find out in the first story that he woke up on the shores of Sovereign City with no memory of who he is, and with a strange medallion with the name “Lazarus Gray”. He started to work to help people, formed “Assistance Unlimited” with 3 associates he helped out. As noted, this is similar to the origin of The Avenger and his Justice, Inc, but also different. He will learn more about himself in the stories in this collection.
All the stories have a supernatural element to them, and this also ties into Gray’s mysterious past. In a couple of stories, Reese adds in the golden age comic book villain The Claw to his “universe”. Maybe this character will return. Overall, all these stories are great.
That story featuring the Claw features a number of elements that Tommy Hancock asked me to include. He has plans for The Claw in his Doc Daye series. I like the character of The Claw so I certainly didn’t mind setting things up for Tommy.
Am enjoying the series, and will look forward to the future volumes.
Good to hear!
There are few negatives to point out. I would have liked the cover to better reflect the description of Gray, who is noted to have gray hair with some brown, not blonde hair. In the first story, he is described as wearing an outfit similar to the Warner Brother’s Avenger covers, but in the later stories this is not mentioned. I would like to see a more consistent description of his outfit given. One of the characters is reveal to be gay. I don’t have an issue with that, but the reaction of the other characters isn’t what I would have expected for the time of the story (1930s). I also have to point out I saw a few typos and such in this work. Need better proofreading.
The color of Gray’s hair on the cover is not 100% accurate, that’s true. As for his outfit, perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me, but I thought in the later stories I mentioned that he was wearing a suit and tie at various points. I figure he wears different outfits at various times — he doesn’t have a ‘costume,’ just functional clothing.
As for the reaction to Eun’s sexuality — you’re right in that their reactions were not typical of the time. Even Eun was surprised that none of them had a real issue with it, which is why he kept it from them for so long. Ultimately, I think the members of Assistance Unlimited are a family and they’re enlightened enough (even in the 1930s) to realize that who Eun takes as a lover isn’t a really important thing to them. They know and love Eun as a person, regardless of his sexuality.
Sorry about the editing — I know the folks at Pro Se were very diligent in reading over the text and making corrections. Just in terms of flipping through the book myself, I find the editing to be much stronger than most of the pulp presses I’ve written for.
Thanks for the review, Michael! I’m glad to know you’re going to be reading future books in the series.