Barry Reese

Pulp Writer Extraordinaire

black_terror_03_smallOne of the background elements that has featured in a lot of my pulp adventure stories is the Geheimnisvolles Kraft-Projekt, also dubbed The Occult Forces Project or OFP. Founded in the late 1930s, the OFP was dedicated to utilizing super-science and magic in the name of The Reich and was a subset of The Ahnenerbe. The group had several notable successes when it came to creating larger-than-life figures who spread the Nazi ideals across the globe. Thankfully, they were defeated  at every turn by heroes like The Peregrine and Lazarus Gray. A division of the OFP was known as the Department of Occult Armaments (D.O.O.M.) and was headed by Dr. Meer.

Here are some of the more notable agents of the OFP that we’ve seen thus far:

Silver Wolf – This werewolf agent of the SS named Karl Raider battled Lazarus Gray and The Darkling in 1937 during the events of “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three). He was enslaved by Princess Femi before he had a fatal encounter with The Darkling.

Geist – General Luther Strauss was a graduate of the OFP who encountered Assistance Unlimited in 1937. An accident in Tibet left him with the ability to manifest ghostly powers. Blackmailed by The Darkling, Geist worked as a double agent until his skills were no longer needed and The Darkling killed him. His story is told in “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three).

Mr. Death – Otto Luther was a sadistic Nazi scientist before being transformed by the blood of The Mother of Pus into the skeletal figure known as Mr. Death in 1938. His madness became even greater than before and he clashed with Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger and The Peregrine during the events known as Götterdämmerung before later teaming with The Torch to combat Lazarus Gray in Transylvania. His body ended up being housed in Lazarus Gray’s super-prison, Tartarus (Götterdämmerung novel and “The Strands of Fate,” The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Six).

The Torch – August Hauff was a famous scientist whose body chemistry was altered to the point that exposure to the air caused his body to burst into flame. He had to wear a protective suit that could also project fire – which he could then control via his mind. The Torch was sent after Mr. Death when Otto Luther went rogue and the two of them embarked on a scheme to capture the Eye of Cagliostro in Transylvania. He soon became a prisoner in Tartarus (“The Strands of Fate,” The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Six). His exploits took place in 1938.

Heidi Von Sinn This young woman was a pseudo-vampire, afflicted with an enzyme disorder that forced her to consume human blood to survive. She was stronger and faster than a normal woman. Heidi Von Sinn was her codename, assigned to her by a fetishistic scientist who also designed her leather-clad outfit. She was sent to Sovereign City to retrieve a mystic artifact, which led her into a short-lived alliance with an out-of-control Golem. This was in 1938 and depicted in “Tapestry” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Six).

The Iron Maiden – Kirsten Bauer ascended through the ranks of the OFP and gained possession of a deadly suit of armor. An expert in Norse mythology, she was involved in something called Project: Ragnarok, which sought to use ancient Norse relics to boost the power of The Reich. To this end, she pursued the so-called Sword of Hel to Atlanta, Georgia in 1941. Eventually falling in love with The Peregrine’s friend Will McKenzie, The Iron Maiden defected and began using her abilities to help the Allies. Her first appearance came in “The Iron Maiden” (The Peregrine Volume One) and she was a frequent supporting character in the series after that.

The Grim Reaper – Not long after Bauer’s defection, Werner Richter arrived in America. Using the fearsome identity of The Grim Reaper, Richter battled The Peregrine for possession of three crystal skulls that contained tremendous power. These events are shown in “The Three Skulls” (The Peregrine Volume One).

The Black Zeppelin & Sun Koh – Lamar Bane was a brilliant scientist who became involved in the creation of something dubbed The Un-Earth. This project resulted in the creation of a Nazi superman known as Sun Koh. Bane battled The Peregrine, Catalyst (Nathaniel Caine) and Esper (Rachel Winters) in 1942. That adventure was depicted in “Catalyst” (The Peregrine Volume One) and The Peregrine’s encounter with Sun Koh was depicted in “The Scorched God” (The Peregrine Volume Two), also set in 1942.

The Furies – Three beautiful but deadly agents of The Axis Powers, the Furies were created by the OFP. They were feared throughout the world before they embarked on an adventure to locate Sun Koh. They were at his side when his plan to destroy Washington evaporated and all three women were killed. This adventure took place in 1942 and was shown in “The Scorched God” (The Peregrine Volume Two).

Steel Jaw – Albert Speiros was disfigured by a grenade blast but he was given new life as part of D.O.O.M., a subset of the OFP. After the large number of defeats the OFP had suffered, Steel Jaw was one of the few remaining from the original program as of 1942. Unfortunately, he had the misfortune of encountering The Warlike Manchu and during the two’s battle, Speiros was brutally murdered. This was shown in “The Resurrection Gambit” (The Peregrine Volume One).

Baron Rudolph Gustav – An ancient vampire with designs of his own for ultimate power, Gustav was loosely affiliated with the OFP before he gained possession of The Rod of Aaron and attempted to use it to take over the mind of The Peregrine’s wife — who was also Gustav’s reincarnated lover! This exciting battle, which culminated right in front of Hitler himself, took place in “Dead of Night,” from The Peregrine Volume Two. This was set in 1943.

Our art today is by George Sellas and it depicts the horrifying August Hauff, aka The Torch.

6 thoughts on “The Occult Forces Project

  1. Wojtek says:

    And what about Albert Speiros a.k.a Steel Jaw? He was the last of The Occult Forces Project superhumans, but got no mention here… Though his appearance was kinda brief, despite the fact he appeared on the cover of “The Peregrine Omnibus – Volume One”.

    Well, he did bite more than he could chew when faced with Warlike Manchu… And sorry for a terrible pun 😛

    Also, was the name of the unit was changed? I am looking at my copy of “The Peregrine Omnibus – Volume One” (When the second omnibus will be released, when?!), and it is called The Departament of Occult Materials a.k.a D.O.O.M there…

    Sorry for the weird grammar, I am not a native speaker.

    PS. Here’s my little review of the first “Peregrine” omnibus. It really needs more of them:

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R7DH0UU131AZ4/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00YNGIN7E&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=133140011&store=digital-text

    1. Thanks for that detailed review on Amazon, Wojtek! I’ll be posting it here on the blog in a day or two. The Peregrine stories were written before I’d ever conceived of Lazarus Gray or Gravedigger – in fact, the first few stories were written back in 2006/2007 and are thus approaching their 10th anniversary. So you see a lot of the growing pains in those early stories as I figure out how I want my pulp adventure universe to work – that’s why there are no references to other heroes in those stories, too. They didn’t exist in my head yet.

      D.O.O.M. is a subset of the OFP. In the crossover novel that’s coming out soon, you see some of the early days of the OFP. D.O.O.M. was supposed to be the division focusing on augmenting normal soldiers with hi-tech wonder weaponry but the divisions often had overlap. As for Steel Jaw, he was simply overlooked when I was creating the list for this blog post – I went back and added him since you asked for him 🙂

      1. Wojtek says:

        Thank You for explanation.

        I’ll be waiting for that crossover novel. And second Peregrine omnibus. And some more Gravedigger. And of course Lazarus Gray. And…

        Yeah, my wallet would be empty pretty soon 😛

        BTW. Have You ever thought about writing a full-length “Villain Pulp”? You know, like “Doctor Death”, “Doctor Satan” or something like that?

        I recently bought myself “The Complete Cases of Doctor Satan” from Altus Press library, and it was fun, but… well I preferred Your version from the original, since he was just a rich jerk who committed crimes cause he was bored…

        Not a great motivation for a villain.

        The version of Doctor Satan who clashed with Peregrine and Lazarus Gray was sinister, mysterious and more than a little demonic, which made him a lot better, and more interesting character…

        I really like Your villains, in my opinion idea for Murder Unlimited from Lazarus Gray adventures was simply great, but was not utilized to it’s fullest. It would be great to have a villain team clashing with Lazarus and his friends…

        Or Shinigami. The idea of Anti-Peregrine created as a mockery of all Max holds dear by Warlike Manchu was such a great idea, but he has very little time to truly shine.

        So maybe You could give Your villains some more spotlight with a novel, or collection of short stories?

        Just an idea, but it would be awesome if it became reality…

      2. I’ve never really thought about doing a villain book… But I am, obviously, a big fan of several series along those lines – Doctor Satan and Fu Manchu, for instance. I’ll give it some thought!

  2. P. Casey says:

    I really like the look of The Torch. I’m used to seeing the “fiery head” of Johnny Storm or Johhny Blaze. This a different interpretation and one that suits the character.

    1. Yeah, I think George did a great design on this villain!

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