How Far Is Too Far?

I keep most of my New Pulp writing in the PG-13 range but I’ve been known to cross “the line” on occasion… some of you may remember when Sun Koh mutilated a rapist in an old Peregrine story, for instance. And my novel Rabbit Heart is basically a study in excess! Whenever I thought that I might be pushing the envelope too far in that book, I went ahead and tore it open.

But when is it *really* too far?

I’ve kept hardcore sex and violence out of Lazarus Gray, for instance, but there’s an element of subjectivity there, as with all artistic endeavors. When I wrote The Damned Thing, there was a scene early on that involved oral sex. To be honest, I’d forgotten about it by the time it saw print — it was just a brief character moment and believe it or not, not every scene sticks in the mind of the person who wrote it (I write a lot of scenes…). So when it came out, I had a reader who went on and on about that scene and how much it disturbed them. I didn’t even remember what they were talking about! See, for them, that was shocking and extremely memorable. For me, it was no big deal. So you never know how folks will respond.

But there are times when even I know that I might be going into territory that would be best left undisturbed. I’ve mentioned before that I started writing a sequel to Rabbit Heart — it was going to be titled Starstruck. In fact, I wrote about 12,000 words on it, meaning it’s about 20% complete. But even as I was writing the opening scenes of Starstruck, I knew that this probably couldn’t see print. Despite how far I’d gone with Rabbit Heart, I went a lot further into the disturbing territory with just the first 12,000 words on Starstruck. There is at least one scene in there that I think would be hard for people to get out of their heads when they thought of me… and I’m not quite sure I want to go there.

Nobody’s read Starstruck – not even people who’ve really begged & pleaded! I’ve thought about finishing it but it’s so dark and if I didn’t publish it, what would be the point? I’ve considered completing it and then sticking it in a box with a note to say that it could be published after I was dead & gone but then I’d miss the perverse pleasure of seeing people freak out!

On the other hand, I don’t want to tone the story down, either. If I’m going to write disgusting smut then by God, I’m going to write disgusting smut!

Anyway, I think that I’ll continue staying on the PG-13 path for most of my New Pulp work – I often try to craft stories that will appeal to adolescent boys the way that classic pulp did me when I was that age. A little titillation is fine but I try not to veer too far into adult territory. Of course, sometimes the characters demand their course of action (like Sun Koh did in that Peregrine story) and often what I consider PG-13 isn’t what someone else would. In fact, I had one lady tell me she’d never let her 15 year old son read my books because they contained too many “demonic” elements.

In the end, the work puts whatever restrictions on itself that feel appropriate. When I’m writing The Peregrine, there’s a certain feeling to the world that lets me know the basic parameters, even if I sometimes bump against the guard rails.

My Year in Review

We’re nearing the end of 2021 and while it was much better than the past few years, it was still a stressful one. On the plus side, my mental and physical health are greatly improved. On the negative side, I lost my mom this year and I continue to sometimes make poor life choices (for those that don’t know, I struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder).

Publishing-wise, we saw the release of both The Sword of Hel and The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Ten. I also wrote Lazarus Gray volume 14, a short story starring the public domain character Auro, a novel titled Omnium Gatherum, the first Straw-Man volume, and I’m very close to finishing a second. So it was a good year, writing-wise.

I also rebooted the website – which has been a big success in my eyes. I’ve continued to podcast with my BFF LaToya Davidson-Perez on In the Stacks and I became the co-host of a podcast dedicated to the actors Johnny Depp and Tom Hiddleston (Deppheads & Hiddlestoners).

Hopefully next year will see several more releases from Reese Unlimited and continued improvements in my personal life. Hope all of you have a great New Year’s Eve and a terrific beginning to 2022!

What’s Happening?

I continue to work on the second volume of Straw-Man stories — I’m currently on story # 5 out of 6. Once I’m done with this volume, I haven’t quite decided what I’ll work on next… perhaps Lazarus Gray Volume 15 or a modern-day Catalyst story. Whatever it ends up being, I’m sure I won’t be resting between projects for long. I typically only take a couple of days off before starting the next one.

I’ve finally gotten around to watching Netflix’s Daredevil series and it’s a got a great New Pulp vibe to it. I’m sure you’ve all watched it by now but it’s highly recommended.

So far reaction to the new releases has been fairly quiet. The Lazarus Gray book has one rating on Amazon (4/5) while Sowrd of Hel has three ratings (4/5, 4/5, and 2/5). The only review that’s been posted was the 2/5 one that I shared yesterday.

Can’t Win Them All…

So The Sword of Hel received its first review and it was not a positive one. It happens. The reviewer, LonelyCityDays, gave the book 2 out of 5 stars. Here’s what he had to say:

“A great looking book that fails to live up to its potential. I was excited when I saw this book and ended up very disappointed. The book had a few neat ideas but the writing was underwhelming. I would have a hard time recommending this.”

I’m sorry you didn’t care for the collection, LonelyCityDays. I do appreciate you taking a chance on it and especially for leaving a review! Very few readers actually leave reviews so I really love that you took the time to do it. Hopefully you’ll give me another chance at some point.


So I watched The Matrix Resurrections last night and it made me think about the dangers of sequels. I mean, we all love continued series, don’t we? To have further adventures with our favorite characters — how could that be a bad thing?

Well, sometimes it is. If the sequel doesn’t add anything new or, even worse, it actually ruins the central premise or the main characters. I remember seeing Ghostbusters 2 and thinking it actually made me like the awesome original less just because I couldn’t watch the first one without thinking of all the stupid decisions made in the sequel!

I’ve been guilty of writing sequels that sucked, too. I mean, sometimes I’ve had fans tell me they enjoyed those books but for me, I knew that I wrote them for one reason only: I felt I had to. The stories just kind of exist and they don’t break any new ground for the main characters. So why did I feel that I had to do them? Was my publisher standing outside my door, haranguing me about when the next Peregrine or Lazarus Gray would be finished? Nah… but sometimes we get caught up in the whole process. ‘It’s been so long since I wrote an adventure in this series! I better churn one out!’ or, even worse, ‘I can’t think of anything new to do but I can probably crank out a new adventure of Mr. XY!’

I’m not proud of having done that but every genre writer is guilty of it, at least once along the way.

Anyhow, this is all my way of saying that the new Matrix movie exists for one obvious reason: somebody, somewhere, said there needed to be a new one. It doesn’t exist because anybody involved had anything new to say or anything groundbreaking to reveal about the setting.

It’s just there.

It’s not bad… but it’s not particularly good, either.

The Black Terror

The Black Terror is a character that dates all the way back to Exciting Comics # 9, published in January 1941 by Nedor Comics. His secret identity was pharmacist Bob Benton, who formulated a chemical he called “formic ethers”, which gave him various superpowers. He used these powers to fight crime with his sidekick, Tim Roland, together known as the “Terror Twins”. The character proved popular enough to survive until 1949 and his distinctive costume made for some truly memorable covers. After the Golden Age, the character eventually fell into the public domain – which led to a whole host of publishers reviving him for various projects. Over the years, he’s appeared in books published by AC, Eclipse, Wild Cat, Image, Moonstone and, of course, the Reese Unlimited imprint of Pro Se Press. I first wrote the character for Wild Cat back in 2008 as part of a book called Legends of the Golden Age and later used him in a couple of stories for The Peregrine. More recently, I’ve gone further back into his continuity to incorporate him into my Lazarus Gray stuff. Because his “later” appearances were written first there are a few discrepancies in how he’s portrayed.

In my universe, we first see The Black Terror in 1934 and learn that he’s the creation of a United States military operation overseen by General Arbogast and a scientist named Kenneth Butler. The Black Terror was, in fact, a plant-human hybrid — he had literally been grown in a tube. His memories (all the “facts” from the Golden Age comics) were implants designed to create a backstory that would make him a better soldier for the United States government — Jean Starr was there to give him a woman to fight to get back to and Tim gave him a sense of family. Neither actually existed, except in his own mind. When Bob found out the truth, he broke free and went rogue — but his programming was strong enough that he decided to continue fighting as The Black Terror. In 1936, this led him to Sovereign City in search of a man named Maxwell Schmidt. The German was running Omega Solutions. In conjunction with another product of the same government program that created The Black Terror — a man named McIness that was codenamed Titan – Schmidt hoped to transform himself into an entity dubbed Prometheus. In the end, Schmidt died for his hubris and The Black Terror was forced to kill Titan, the only other entity like him in the world. When all was said and done, The Black Terror used the technology that had created him to grow versions of Jean and Tim — he implanted similar memories into their minds and gave them life. All of this was recounted in “Making of a Hero” from Lazarus Gray Volume Two.

The next time we see Bob is in 1938, nearly two years after the previous story. The Black Terror was now well-known as a scourge of the underworld and this brought him into conflict with two superhuman criminals: The White Worm and Cassandra, the witch. During the events dubbed Gotterdammerung, The Black Terror confronted these two and learned that something greater — and more dangerous — was at play. Bob didn’t have much of a role in the affair beyond that. This was shown in the Gotterdammerung novel.

Three months after this (still in 1938), Bob is approached by Assistance Unlimited and offered a spot with the team. With Tim’s encouragement, he accepts and begins splitting his time between an apartment he shares with his young ward and a bedroom at 6196 Robeson Avenue. Jean gets a job as secretary to the new Sovereign mayor, Mortimer Quinn. Bob becomes the team’s scientific expert and also serves as the muscle in most battles. He forms close friendships with the team though he struggles with Eun’s homosexuality. Over the course of 1938 and 1939, The Black Terror aids Assistance Unlimited in battles against Princess Femi, The Librarian, Nemesis, Mr. Death, The Torch, Heidi Von Sinn and El Demonio. These stories are told in Lazarus Gray Volumes 6 & 7.

The Black Terror’s growing penchant for violence leads to him spending more and more time with his teammate, Eidolon. The duo begin sneaking away throughout 1939 and 1940, conducting their own crime–busting exploits. This eventually leads to Lazarus Gray drawing a line in the sand and demanding that they follow his rules about violence — The Black Terror agrees but Eidolon quits the team at this point. Later in 1940, The Black Terror encounters a woman known as The Golden Amazon and the two are highly attracted to one another but when push comes to shove, Bob remains faithful to Jean. Not long after, The Black Terror joined The Fighting Yank, The Golden Amazon and Olga Mesmer in forming a Manhattan-based team known as The Heroes (late 1941). The Heroes are considered a spinoff organization of Assistance Unlimited and Bob began splitting his time between Manhattan and Sovereign. The Heroes are known to have battled Doctor Satan and Lady Satan before uniting with the rest of Assistance Unlimited to battle Phasma in early 1942. All of these tales are depicted in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volumes 8, 9 and 10. The Black Terror was also a stalwart member of Assistance Unlimited during their battles against Woland, The Puzzler, and a revived Doctor Satan (Volumes 11 and 12).

During all of this, Tim often accompanies his mentor on adventures and the two (dubbed “The Terror Twins” by the press) develop a reputation beyond Assistance Unlimited.

In 1943 Bob is asked by Project: Cicada to go on a mission behind enemy lines – he confronts a Nazi scientist that is trying to recreate the Formic Ethers (“Terrors,” The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two). While this is happening, Tim is approached by The Flame and Madame Masque – they say they need his help with some sort of emergency and he departs with them (“The Ivory Machine,” The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two and retold in slightly different fashion in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume 12).  Once Bob finds out that Tim has gone missing, he becomes more violent in his dealings with criminals and is briefly wanted by the authorities for his actions – he breaks off his association with Assistance Unlimited during this period, as he is obsessed with finding his partner. He is finally reunited with Tim in 1946 and aids The Claws of the Peregrine team (along with The Flame and Madame Masque) in defeating the threat of Rainman and Dr. Gottlieb Hochmuller (“The Ivory Machine, The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two). In the aftermath, Bob and Tim are offered a place with the Peregrine’s Claws team and they agree to aid them when possible.

Bob next appears in 1964 where he’s serving as chief chemist for the now global version of Assistance Unlimited – though we don’t know the exact circumstances, they’ve obviously reconciled in the years since he left the group. We learn that The Black Terror adventured throughout the late Forties and most of the Fifties. It’s revealed that Tim has recently become the new Black Terror though it’s also stated that Bob occasionally still dons the costume to get in some action. No mention of Jean is given at this time.

I really like my version of Bob — he’s a solid, steadfast hero that occasionally gives in to his baser instincts. He’s sometimes troubled by his non-human origins but he’s too well-adjusted to dwell upon them.

Outstanding mysteries – Did he ever have any follow-up encounters with the agency that created him? What becomes of Jean after 1946? It should be noted that the Tim of 1946 doesn’t look much different than the Tim of 1936, implying that these plant-human hybrids may not age the same as normal humans – indeed, the Bob Benton of 1964 is described as still being quite youthful looking but it is suggested that Tim has finally moved into what appears to be adulthood. Also, The Black Terror of 1946 doesn’t seem very familiar with The Peregrine, despite the fact that Assistance Unlimited and The Peregrine were allies. Is it possible that The Black Terror we saw in the 1946 story (and possibly the 1943 one) is actually a second version, grown at a later point? Or is it simply a case of an author writing stories out of sequence and screwing up?

Only time will tell!

Our artwork today was produced by Anthony Castrillo and was commissioned by yours truly.

What A Month!

Two books released in December! It’s been an exciting time around Reese Unlimited and hopefully a few folks will end up with one or both of them under the Christmas tree. One of them is a new addition to my long-running Lazarus Gray series while the other is a one-off starring a sword and sorcery character. It’s amazing that I’ve reached the point in my life when I can write all sorts of things and people embrace them all. I appreciate the support of my fans and hope to continue entertaining you for many years to come.

Our image today comes from artist George Sellas and features The Peregrine’s wife with a vampiric foe.

Sword of Hel press release


Award Winning Author Barry Reese, known for such iconic New Pulp Heroes as Lazarus Gray, The Peregrine, and Gravedigger takes readers back to supernatural, ancient history of his Reese Unlimited universe with the adventures of Grimarr in SWORD OF HEL!A Viking warrior dies a dishonorable death… but he has one chance to redeem his soul and enter Valhalla: to return to Earth in service to the goddess of death! As the living Sword of Hel, Grimarr encounters demons, evil warlords, and beautiful sword-maidens! Sword and sorcery in the tradition of Robert E. Howard!

SWORD OF HEL by Barry Reese. From Reese Unlimited and Pro Se Productions.Featuring an atmospheric cover by Larry Nadolsky, interior art by Chris Batista, and logo design and print formatting by Sean E. Ali, SWORD OF HEL is available at in print for $7.99.The latest volume from Reese Unlimited is also available on Kindle formatted by Antonino lo Iacono and Marzia Marina for $0.99 for a limited time at Kindle Unlimited Members can read this sword and sorcery adventure for free!

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, email

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

The Pulp Super-Fan Reviews Lazarus Volume Nine

Michael Brown posted this five star review of Volume Nine on Here’s what he had to say:

“Just before the end of 2020, we got a new Lazarus Gray book, volume nine, from Barry Reese. I was expecting both volumes nine and 10 to come out in 2020, so it was a bit late. As Reese has already written through 13, I hope we’ll see the rest on a more regular cycle.

“The Adventures of Lazarus Gray, Vol. 9″Lazarus Gray is a New Pulp character from Reese (The Peregrine, Gravedigger, and other characters and works). Gray is sort of inspired by the classic pulp hero The Avenger, having a group of associates organized as “Assistance Unlimited.”

He is located in a fictional town called Sovereign City (created by Pro Se Press publisher Tommy Hancock), and thus is part of the larger Sovereign City Project. He is also set in the same universe as Barry’s other characters, so has crossed over with them.

In addition to the current members of Assistance Unlimited — Morgan Stanley, Eun Jiwon, Samantha Grace, Abigail Cross, and Black Terror — we will see some new additions to the group in this one. Unlike the previous volume, The Adventures of Lazarus Gray, Vol. 9: The Sinking World is a single novel set in 1941.

We get a return of Murder Unlimited, which has Nemesis and Bushido. Nemesis is Lazarus’ opposite number, and Bushido was introduced in the previous volume. This time they are joined by Eidolon, who used to be part of Lazarus’ group, and The Golden Amazon, also introduced in the previous volume. Though with the last two, it seems theirs is more of an alliance of convenience.

Adding to the story, it seems that Asgard has fallen. Odin and Thor are dead, and most of the rest are dying. This is due to Loki. But it’s found that Thor has “hidden” his daughter, Thrud, on Earth, and his hammer will awaken her, but Loki is trying to stop it.

Loki wishes to cause the Earth to be reformed with him making the decisions. Lazarus and his team try to find Thor’s daughter, while Loki is looking for Murder Unlimited to “team up” with them. Sort of.

It should be pointed out that if your only knowledge of Norse mythology is from Marvel Comics (or their movies), be prepared for a surprise, as here they are based more on the original myths.

Soon the two teams are heading to a hidden land of Vorium, which will allow Loki to drown the world and reshape it. Thankfully, Lazarus’ team has a new ally in The Fighting Yank, a comicbook character from the Golden Age of Comics. Things come to a head, and Murder Unlimited and Loki are stopped. This will be the end of both Nemesis and Bushido, but not in the way you migth expect.

At the end, The Golden Amazon and The Fighting Yank will become occasional allies of Assistance Unlimited. I do wonder if, like her original version, this Golden Amazon will come to a point where she stops trying to conquer the world and works more to save it. Eidolon will go his own way, but I wonder if we’ll see him in the future.

I hope we get the next volume soon, as I noted that Reese has written up through volume 13. In addition, if you check his timeline, you see references to a few other works that aren’t out. Yet. These include Worlds Apart, Satan’s Lair, and The Chronicles of Lilith. Hopefully we’ll also see more new stories with Assistance Unlimited set in the 1960s.”

Thanks, Michael! The release schedule is still a bit wonky, I’m afraid. It took nearly a year to get volume ten released… but that’s mainly a result of Pro Se having so much product to shift. The company is doing well and that means that they can’t focus on any one imprint or author. Still, the books are gorgeously formatted and well put together so you take the bad with the good!