Two of my books have gotten new reviews posted at Amazon recently so let’s take a look at them, shall we?
First up is Grady Landrum with a 5-star review of Nightveil: The Quiet Girls. Here’s what he had to say:
Great pulp style adventure. Fast paced smooth flow. Hooks you from chapter one. Not classic literature but well worth the read. Looking forward to the follow up.
Next up we have Dennis Roy with a 4-star look at Of Monsters and Men:
This is an interesting new pulp anthology of nine short illustrated prose stories. The theme pits pulp heroes (some pretty obscure) against some classic literary monsters. Included as a bonus in the hardcover edition of the book only, are reprints of the three one-shot comic books DOMINO LADY VS THE MUMMY, PHANTOM DETECTIVE VS. FRANKENSTEIN, and BLACK BAT VS, DRACULA. The trade paperback edition of the book includes only the illustrated prose stories. The complete story list is as follows:
1. THE PHANTOM’S GHOST by Eric Fein (The Green Ghost vs. the Phantom of the Opera)
The Green Ghost began in his own magazine (originally as just THE GHOST, Detective) published by Standard Magazines and written by G.T. Fleming-Roberts (not to be confused with the earlier Green Ghost, created by Johnston McCulley), before moving into THRILLING MYSTERY for his last few stories. Further new pulp adventures of The Green Ghost can be found in an anthology of stories published by Airship 27. This Green Ghost is really stage magician and escape artist George Chance, who uses his skills disguised as the masked and caped vigilante to track down a madman inspired by Gaston Leroux’s original Phantom of the Opera.
2. BUMP IN THE NIGHT by Tommy Hancock (The Moon Man vs. The Invisible Man)
The Moon Man first appeared in a series of 38 short stories in the pulp TEN DETECTIVE ACES, written by Frederick Davis and published by Ace Magazines. Further new adventures of The Moon Man have been published by Airship 27. As the Moon Man, detective sergeant Steve Thatcher plays a dangerous game, evading his own colleagues in the police department while robbing criminals of their ill-gotten wealth to redistribute to the city’s poor. Wearing a long black robe and spherical helmet composed of one-way mirrored glass, his head appears to be a featureless silver globe. Here he discovers that H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man did not die at the end of that novel, a situation the Moon Man intends to rectify.
3. THE RETURN OF THE MONSTERS by Sean Taylor (The Golden Amazon vs. Quasimodo)
The Golden Amazon was created by John Russell Fearn, and appeared in a long series of novels beginning in 1945. Before that, he had written an earlier incarnation of the character for a quartet of novelettes that had appeared in AMAZING STORIES (those stories predated the more famous Wonder Woman character published by DC Comics, to whom the Golden Amazon bears certain similarities). Many of the postwar Golden Amazon novels (a series that ran well into the 1950s) have been reprinted by Wildside/Borgo Press. The character that appears in this anthology seems to be the later version from the novel series, rather than the earlier version from Amazing Stories. In this story Violet Ray Brant (aka the Golden Amazon), product of a genetic experiment, is visiting Notre Dame cathedral in Paris to investigate a cult determined to resurrect an ancient goddess. They’ve resurrected the corpse of the original hunchback of Notre Dame, now endowed with supernatural speed and strength, to serve their purposes.
4. A FLY IN THE OINTMENT by David White (The Skull vs. The Fly)
The Skull seems to be close analog of the copyrighted character “The Skull Killer”, the hero of two one-shot pulp magazines starring villains, THE OCTOPUS and THE SCORPION, both published by Popular Publications. The original Skull Killer was a nemesis of crime whom no one had ever seen (and lived), who signed his work by leaving a skull mark stamped in acid on the foreheads of his slain foes. He is both wanted by the police, and feared by criminals for his ability to relentlessly punish the guilty while leaving no clue to his identity. In reality, he was millionaire Jeffrey Fairchild, who maintained (using makeup) the alternate identity of Dr. Skull, an elderly physician who ran a charitable medical clinic in the city’s slums. No one suspects Fairchild’s alternate personas. In the story by David White in the present anthology, the characteristics and relationships of the original pulp characters have been maintained but the names have been changed. Jeff Fairchild becomes Danny Ivers, the aged medico Dr. Skull becomes Dr. Harold Killian, and the mysterious Skull Killer becomes simply The Skull. Dr. Skull’s beautiful assistant and head nurse Carol Endicott becomes Kelly Walters. In this version The Skull identity is given more of a distinctive physical costume and makeup, to allow the illustrator to depict him in this story where he’s opposed by THE FLY, the character from the novel by George Langelaan which inspired the 20th Century Fox film (as interpreted by screenwriter Kurt Neumann) in 1958. This story uses the earlier novel/film version of The Fly, not the later remake film version from 1986, directed by David Cronenberg.
5. SYCORAX by Matthew Baugh (Captain Future vs. The Witch)
Captain Future, aka Curtis Newton was the hero of his own self-titled pulp magazine published by Standard Magazines. After his own magazine was cancelled, his adventures continued for a time in the long-running SF pulp STARTLING STORIES, from the same publisher. He was created and mainly written by Edmond Hamilton, who later had a second career writing numerous scripts for DC Comics from the late 1940s through the early 1906s. There he was best remembered for his contributions to the Silver Age Superman family and Legion of Super-Heroes comic books. Captain Future is assisted by the huge metal robot Grag, the white-skinned, hairless, shape-changing android Otho, and the elderly genius Dr. Simon Wright, now known as The Brain, whose body had died but whose brain had been preserved in a glassite cube which was outfitted with camera eyestalks, metal tentacles for manipulating objects, and force beams for levitation and mobility. Collectively the group are known as The Futuremen. Together they had raised the infant Curt Newton, after his parents had been murdered by a criminal overlord, in a secret base on the dark side of Earth’s moon, training him to physical perfection and making him an intellectual marvel, expert in a wide range of sciences. In this story Captain Future is challenged by Sycorax, is the offstage character from William Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST, a vicious and powerful witch who was mother to the villain Caliban.
6. THE FLYING DEAD by Barry Reese (Richard Knight, the Man Named ‘Q’, vs. Zombies on High)
Richard Knight was a World War 1 ace and spy, similar to Popular Publications’ G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES. His adventures, written by Donald E. Keyhoe, originally appeared in FLYING ACES, and the first four of these stories have been collected by Altus Press. Further new adventures have been published in anthologies from Pro Se Productions as part of their Pulp Obscura line.
7. ZERO SQUARED by Chuck Miller (Zero vs. Demons)
This Zero is an analog of the copyrighted character CAPTAIN ZERO, one of the last of the original pulp heroes, published by Popular Publications in 1949. As a human volunteer for a military medical experiment durin WWII, he becomes invisible (whether he wants to or not) each night at exactly midnight, his condition lasting until sunrise. As with the previous copyrighted character the Skull Killer, in this story the names have been changed, but the basic characters and relationships remain as in the original Captain Zero pulp stories. For whatever reason, the character of Doro Kelly, the hero’s love interest in the original pulps, has been retained unchanged.
8. WAR OF THE BEAST MAN (Ki-Gor the Jungle Lord vs. the Beast Men)
Ki-Gor, a blond jungle hero designed to capitalize on the public’s hunger for more stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, appeared in a long-running series of novels published by Fiction House in their JUNGLE STORIES pulp magazine, aided there (as here) by his beautiful mate, the curvaceous but eminently capable jungle girl, Helene. Some of the original pulp stories have been reprinted by Altus Press, while further new adventures have appeared in anthologies published by Airship 27.
9. THE DAEMON’S KISS by Adam Lance Garcia (The Green Lama vs. Succubus)
New pulp author Adam Lance Garcia has written several stories of the Green Lama, continuing the adventures of the original pulp hero created by Kendall Foster Crossen for DOUBLE DETECTIVE Magazine, published by the Frank Munsey Company in the 1940s. The character later appeared, in somewhat altered form, in Golden Age comic books and in his own short-lived radio series, in the late 1940s, but here he’s returned to his original pulp magazine incarnation. The Green Lama was one of the most interesting of the minor league pulp avengers because of his devotion to Buddhism, making him quite different in characterization from most pulp fiction mystery men. Although originally intended to tap into the public’s fascination for the radio adventures of The Shadow, the Buddhist angle gave the Green Lama quite a different flavor. A revived interest in the character began via Dynamite Entertaiment’s revival of the character as part of the cast of the comic book series PROJECT SUPERPOWERS, and Adam Lance Garcia has been continuing the revived interest in a growing number of new pulp stories published by Cornerstone Books and Moonstone Books. Other authors have contributed new stories of the character as well, some of which appear in an anthology published by Airship 27.
Although most of the stories in this book are quite short, they are each accompanied by an average of a half-dozen full page illustrations, using a different artist for each story. That makes this anthology more of a visual treat (along with the reprinted comic book format stories included exclusively in the hardcover edition of the book) than is typically the case for new pulp story collections. Some of the artists featured are David Niehaus, Silvio Kiko, Mark Grammel, Eric Ridgeway, Manuel Diaz Bejaranno, Amin Amat, Ivan Barriga, Tom Floyd, and Mike Fyles, and the illustrations are of generally high quality. The prose stories themselves are, due to their brevity, somewhat less detailed in plot development and descriptive passages than was the case with the original pulp stories featuring these characters, but overall, I’d recommend this anthology for the variety of characters included and the novelty of the theme, especially if you appreciate illustration art. It’s a pleasure to see the artists’ visual conceptions of the heroes and villains in key action scenes from the stories, especially since the original pulp stories were often sparsely illustrated.
Thanks to both guys for their thoughtful reviews – much appreciated!