Month: April 2018

A Review of Captain Action: Cry of the Jungle Lord!

img_9090Ray Johnson posted a review of Captain Action: Cry of the Jungle Lord over on audible.com and I thought that I’d share his comments here. He gave the book 5 stars out of 5! This review is, as you may have guessed from the audible reference, about the audiobook version.

 Action + Pulp= Good Readin’! 

You may not realize this, but Captain Action started out as an Action figure line, in which alternate costumes were made for him so that he could become different heroes. FOr example, there was a Superman costume as well as Lone Ranger one. He was made to kind of offset the domination of the market by the GI Joe action figure. While beloved by the few who got it, the line died, and was revived back in the 90’s. It died too. Then they made some comic books which didn’t last long, either. So the Capt. has had a rough time.

That’s why I’m glad They’ve somehow made it to a third installment of a series of novels, since CA has never really had any luck. I’m going to be honest, even though this is the third novel i the series, it is the first one I have read. I have the other two, but I got this one first, and it is narrated by Roberto Scarlato, one of my “MUST LISTEN TOO” narrators. So, I’ll start there, Scarlato, per usual, nails the narration like he were an electric hammer on overcharge. The man can do voices and drive home action like nobody’s business. He makes the book fun, and when the action starts he is the guy holding the guns. So, expect some amazing storytelling, and settle in for a long listen as he’ll suck you into the tale faster than a sinkhole in Florida.

The story itself is very pulpy, something I appreciate and hope you will too. Books like this are a rare thing nowadays, and listening to this I had the feel of a young kid laying on the floor before a giant radio listening to an Old Time Radio show for the first time. It is fun, nostalgic, and chock fulla action, but just one Captain Action. I really think Beard has a true feel for the Cap, and Reese balances him out. This is a great story that you will not want to miss. 

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. In fact, getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like me will decide based on my review.

Thanks for the kind words, Ray! It was so much fun working with Jim on this project and I hope to be able to revisit that collaborative partnership someday in the future.

Yeah, I’d Like to Write That…

challengers-kirbyI was able to write one of my all-time favorite pulp heroes — The Avenger — for Moonstone. Twice!

I’ve also written The Green Hornet, G-8 and His Battle Aces, The Black Bat, The Black Terror and lots more. I’ve written sourcebooks that were all about Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers and a lot more…

But there are still some dream projects out there that I’d like to tackle:

Batman. I’ve read some good Batman prose novels but I’d love to handle Bruce Wayne and company just once. I think it would be a blast.

The Shadow. Taking on Walter Gibson’s signature character would be intimidating as hell but I’d jump at the opportunity.

Conan. I’m not sure I’d ever be able to live up to the passion of Robert E. Howard’s writing but I’d give it my best shot.

Airboy. I’m not too big on aerial pulp, despite having written both Richard Knight and G-8… but Airboy’s appearances in the Chuck Dixon comic book series made me a fan.

Challengers of the Unknown. I didn’t much care for the Ron Goulart novel that came out way back when… I like to think I could do better. The themes and characters are right up my alley.

Seekay. One of the greatest obscure pulp characters ever!

Norgil the Magician. Walter Gibson’s *other* great hero. I have a ton of ideas for this crime-solving magician.

The Phantom. Lee Falk’s classic hero would be a blast to write!

There are other projects that I’d love to tackle, too, but those are the ones that keep popping up in my heart and mind. Someday, maybe…

Murder Unlimited

lg_v3_murder_unlimited_smallOne of the great tropes of modern heroic fiction is the “dark reflection,” where we get to see a villain that’s very similar to our hero – so much so, that they’re practically two sides of the same coin. Lazarus Gray has clashed several times with a man known as Nemesis, whose very existence is due to a spell to turn him into Gray’s equal.

But what about Assistance Unlimited, the group that Lazarus leads? Do they  have an opposite number?

Actually, the answer is yes – and they’re known as Murder Unlimited!

Be warned if you read further, however… because spoilers lie ahead.

The first version of Murder Unlimited made their debut in 1936 when a scarred woman named Constance Majestros brought together a team based out of 666 Holder Way – a brownstone located in one of Sovereign City’s worst neighborhoods (“Murder Unlimited,” Lazarus Gray Volume 3). Despite its surroundings, the interior was quite lush and well-suited to its evil membership. The initial members were:

  • Dr. Melvin Pemberley – A doctor that had been discredited for his awful experiments and a frequent foe of Assistance Unlimited in its early days.
  • Prince Femi – The resurrected Egyptian sorceress that has fought Assistance Unlimited more than any other villain has.
  • Abraham Klee – The son of the notorious Adolphus Klee, this madman has a bald head and a terrible scar around it — surgeries have allowed him to utilize 90% of his brain capability.
  • Stanley Davis – A heavyset man gifted with clairvoyance.
  • Constance Majestros – Scarred after a battle with Lazarus Gray, she was fixated on gaining revenge.

The team was defeated and for several years, the Murder Unlimited name was unused. It was revived in 1940 when a new version was formed (“As Above, So Below” – Lazarus Gray Volume 8). This team consisted of:

  • Nemesis – Agent of both The Illuminati and the Occult Forces Project, Nemesis was magically enhanced to be Lazarus Gray’s equal.
  • Bushido – A Japanese warrior, she is a female samurai and is fiercely loyal to Nemesis. The two are lovers and partners.
  • Vixen – Caroline Berber wears a black catsuit and is skilled at seducing men — in fact, she managed to trick Morgan Watts into marrying her.
  • Brick — Larry Carter was Caroline’s boyfriend and a thug of the highest order.
  • Alloy – Mario Gallo had suffered a terrible injury but was repaired by Italian doctors that used an experimental substance called Material-X to strengthen his shattered bones.

A third incarnation was formed in 1941 (Lazarus Gray Volume 9). This time, the group was once again led by Nemesis and Bushido but its final two members were quite surprising and featured betrayals of trust for Assistance Unlimited… that’s right: for the first time, a former member of Assistance Unlimited was now a member of Murder Unlimited!

 

Pulp Fiction #2: The Man of Steel Turns 80!

cracked rear viewer

On April 18, 1938, National Publications presented Action Comics #1, showcasing typical comic book fare of the era like master magician Zatara, sports hero Pep Morgan, and adventurer Tex Thompson. And then there was the red-and-blue suited guy on the cover…

Yes, it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men… who can change the course of mighty rivers… bend steel in his bare hands… and so on and so forth! Eighty years ago tomorrow, Superman made his debut and changed the course of mighty comic book publishers forever. An immediate hit with youthful readers, Superman headlined his own comic a year later, spawned a slew of superhero imitators, became a super-merchandising machine, and conquered all media like no other before him!

Wayne Boring’s Superman

And to think he came from humble beginnings. No, not the planet Krypton, but from the fertile…

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