New Thunder Jim Wade Review

Pulp super-fan Michael Brown posted a review of The New Adventures of Thunder Jim Wade and here’s what he had to say:

Thunder Jim Wade was a short-lived hero pulp series written by the well-known sf author Henry Kuttner, who married another well-known sf author, CL Moore, these stories were published under the house name of “Charles Stoddard”.

The original Thunder Jim Wade stories (5), have been reprinted by Altus Press. This collection contains 6 new stories by various new pulp authors. Its part of Pro Se Press’s “Pulp Obscura” line, which have NEW stories of classic, now public domain, pulp heroes that have been reprinted by Altus Press. Hopefully, this will be the first of several on Thunder Jim Wade.

Thunder Jim Wade is usually written off as a Doc Savage clone. He was raised by a lost civilization (Minos, a lost colony of Crete in Africa) after his explorer father died, and left when another explorer found the hidden land. He has various mental and physical abilities, most due to his upbringing. Afterwards, he became a sort of roving troubleshooter, operating out of a secret island in the south Pacific, alerted to trouble by agents scattered around in major cities. He created a unique vehicle called the Thunderbug (a combination tank, submarine, airplane). Its built using a special alloy (you’ll learn more about this in his first original story in the Altus collection).

He has 2 two aides: “Red” Argyle” & “Dirk” Marat. Henry Kuttner described “Red” Argyle as “a burly giant with knarled hands … and … deft fingers”. Sort of a “Monk” Mayfair type. Kuttner described “Dirk” Marat as “small, innocent-looking chap with blond hair and black eyebrows, and one great passion. That was for cold steel. He could handle guns, but preferred to work with knives.” It seems that many of the other pulp heroes only had 2 sidekicks/assistants. Prehaps dealing with 5 or 6 was too many for some authors. 🙂

Whenever current authors write new stories about classic characters, I have two things I look for: did they write a good story AND were they true to the original character? Too often, some authors feel they need to make changes to the character that’s just not true to the original (like in one case making the character a major jazz fan such that he now owns a jazz club whereas in the original stories he showed no interest in any music).

The six stories are:

“Thunderstruck” by Andrew Salmon. This one pits Wade and friends against the Nazis in Norway. The original stories appeared in 1941, just prior to the US entering WWII, so this is not a strength. While a good story, the originals were more set in exotic locations around the South Pacific or Indian Ocean. WWII Norway just doesn’t seem too exotic, but apart from that, the story is good.

“The Hellmouth” by Barry Reese pits Wade and friends against a new menace that seems to have mystical powers (possible hints of Cthulian horror). While this didn’t occur in the originals, it could be seen. Another good story, with setup for a possible reappearance of the villain.

“The Invisible Pirates” by Nick Ahlheim has Wade and friends helping the US Navy against a bizarre group of invaders. They find a mysterious foe with access to advanced technology, and put a stop to him. There is some mystery to the villain we don’t find out. Another good story that has some possibilities for the future.

“Depths of Horror” by Frank Schildiner also pits Wade and friends against a new menace with mystical powers with hints of Cthulian horror, that is also tied in with Minos. Another good story that has some possibilities for the future.

“The Veiled Lady” by Ashley Mangin is set in a lost Incan village, threatened a villain trying to drive them out in her quest for lost Incan gold. While a good story, I had issues with the plausibility of the villain’s identity.

“Ninety Nine Peaks” by Mark Squirek is set in Indochina, as Wade and friends go up against a villain about to supply deadly gas to the Nazis. This story had a lot of small problems I had issues with. The Thunderbug is now given helicopter blades, and the behavior of some characters seemed unbelievable.

Overall, the collection was good. I did see a few issues with typos, about a dozen. This should have been caught in proofing. I also thought that Pro Se should have added a page or two of short author bios. Also, I think ads for the Altus Press reprint of Thunder Jim Wade as well as ads for other Pulp Obscura books should have also been included.

I look forward to the next Thunder Jim Wade collection!

Thanks for the review, Michael! You and I are in agreement about author bios — hopefully Pro Se will bend on that issue at some point. If you enjoyed Leviathan, you might be interested to know that I’m doing a Thunder Jim Wade/Lazarus Gray story that will feature him. I’m basically taking “The Hellmouth” and expanding it about four times its original size, with additional details about who (or what) Leviathan really is. I think you’ll enjoy it.