Michael Brown is known in many circles as “The Pulp Super-Fan” and he regularly reviews classic and new pulp at his blog. I definitely think you should check it out!
Tomorrow I’ll be seeing the Spider-Man movie and I cannot wait. Marvel has been putting a lot of its recent eggs into the multiversal basket and I’ve been very pleased since I’ve been a big fan of such things my whole life. Back when DC had Earth-1, Earth-2, etc., I was a massive fan of the JSA and its spinoff groups like the All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. Marvel’s What If…? was always a fun concept, too, and I liked seeing that one translated into animation. I’m curious to see how The Eternals (which I LOVED) will be folded into the greater MCU going forward, too.
In my own universe, I’ve barely touched upon the concept of a multiverse — yeah, I’ve mentioned here and there that the future is still uncertain and that some of what we’ve seen might only be in one particular timeline, but I’ve never dived deep into a Mirror Universe type storyline. I mean, what if there was a world out there like DC’s Earth-3 or like Star Trek’s Mirror Universe? A place filled with evil versions of Lazarus Gray, the Peregrine, or Babylon?
Maybe something I can play with eventually.
A Check-In at Reese Unlimited
The tenth volume of Lazarus Gray was released earlier this week and, while I haven’t received any feedback on it yet, I think it’s going to be well received. It was a fun project and introduces some great new characters into the universe.
I’m currently writing story # 4 for the second Straw-Man anthology. If I can keep up my current pace, I might have all six stories finished by the end of the month. If so, I’ll take some time off (a few days) before moving on to another subject. I’m not sure if I’ll do a short story with Jupiter (one of the characters introduced in the Straw-Man tales), begin work on Lazarus Gray volume 15, or something altogether different. A part of me wants to press on to the third Straw-Man book but I don’t want to burn myself out on the character.
Can’t wait to see the new Spider-Man film! No spoilers, please — I have to wait an entire week to be able to see it.
New Pulp Recommendation: Snake Eyes: Deadgame by Rob Liefeld
Rob Liefeld recently took control of G.I. Joe’s most popular character, Snake Eyes, and delivered a thrilling storyline entitled Deadgame. With a plot that spans centuries, the crux of it is that an immortal villain has returned to continue a game of death — and he has his eyes set on both an ancient sword and Thor’s famous hammer Mjölnir. Along the way, Snake Eyes crosses paths with a former teacher of his; old flame Scarlett; fellow ninja Stormshadow; and even the original G.I. Joe and his Adventure Team (complete with Bulletman!). I think Liefeld delivered some of the best art of his career and the story packed plenty of excitement. There were a few places in the narration where I felt things got kind of confusing and to be honest, I’m still not 100% sure I understand what the villain’s ultimate goal was (or even what the hell the Deadgame is) but I still loved the pacing, the action, and the characterization. This is definitely modern pulp storytelling so if you enjoy a good beer-and-pretzels comic book, this is it.
The Occult Forces Project
One 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).
Nemesis – Nemesis was another name for Paul Alfred Müller-Murnau – the handsome Aryan that had once been an agent of The Illuminati. Nemesis was the result of a complicated mystic ritual that had imprinted all of Lazarus Gray’s skills onto another man. While this transformed Müller-Murnau into a dark mirror image of Lazarus, it also eradicated all traces of the man he had once been. In fact, Müller-Murnau was very possibly not even his real identity… his fingerprints were known to no agency on earth and there was no history of anyone with that name until he’d shown up in Sovereign City, on the very same night that Richard Winthrop had become Lazarus Gray. Nemesis had used his versatile abilities to rise to two positions of power in just over half a decade: he had been the President of a bank and also the head of one of the largest German-American Bund organizations in the nation. He had finally realized his true purpose as Gray’s opposite number and turned to a life of crime, allying himself first with the ancient Egyptian named Princess Femi and later with his own twisted version of Assistance Unlimited. It was during his imprisonment in Tartarus, the super-prison designed by Lazarus, that Nemesis had managed to cast his own spell, mystically impregnating Samantha Grace so that she could give birth to what he hoped would be the ubermensch. In late 1940, Nemesis resumed his ties to the Nazi party and was assigned a high-ranking position within the OFP.
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). Though he died in battle with The Peregrine, he was restored through an OFP ritual. In 1944, he abandoned the German cause and instead pledged himself to an ancient being known as The Elder. When The Elder was destroyed, Werner willingly returned to Hell in hopes of learning black magic. This took place in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Fourteen.
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.
Volume 10 Discussion
For the first nine volumes of the Lazarus Gray series, we were slowly approaching America’s entry into World War II – and with the newly released tenth book, we finally arrive at the attack on Pearl Harbor. This book not only introduces some major new elements to the series, it will also give you an idea about how Assistance Unlimited will fit into the war effort.
Interestingly enough, the book kicks off with a story originally intended for an anthology project – it sees the birth of a group known as The Heroes. It also features the return of a classic villain.
Can’t wait to see what you guys think about this one!
Lazarus Goes to War!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SOVEREIGN CITY’S HERO GOES TO WAR IN ALL KINDS OF WAYS!
‘THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME TEN’ DEBUTS!
“The only clue to his identity was a small medallion with the words ‘Lazarus Gray’ stamped upon it.”
Since his debut, Barry Reese’s Lazarus Gray has been one of the most popular New Pulp characters created. Pro Se Productions and Reese Unlimited, the company’s initial author imprint, proudly announce the debut of THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME TEN, now available in print and digital formats.
War comes to Lazarus Gray and Assistance Unlimited, as the protectors of Sovereign City face conflicts from within and without, and a new band of adventurers come together to face a foe who is the embodiment of evil incarnate…
THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY continue as Lazarus Gray and his colleagues step into uncertain times as they navigate a world at war. Lazarus Gray faces a new threat rising from an unspeakable tragedy, while an evil undying returns to entangle an unsuspecting world in a sinister gambit…
…and Heroes will rise to the challenge!
The Devil walks once more in THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME TEN by Barry Reese. From Reese Unlimited and Pro Se Productions!
Featuring an impressive cover by Jeffrey Hayes and logo design and print formatting by Sean E. Ali, the latest volume in this series is available for 11.99 via Amazon at https://tinyurl.com/yfzj9p7r.
Volume Ten is also available on Kindle formatted by Antonino lo Iacono and Marzia Marina for $0.99 for a limited time at https://tinyurl.com/yckj8nzu. Kindle Unlimited Members can read this thrilling adventure for free!
For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to http://www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.
The (Fictional) Women In My Life
I’m mostly known for my male creations — The Peregrine & Lazarus Gray, for instance — but I’ve spent a good bit of my career writing female leads. The Damned Thing, Rabbit Heart and Gravedigger all feature strong female characters. I’m proud of those books, especially since the pulp field is still so testosterone-heavy. New Pulp does have The Pulptress, Elisa Hill and Callie but those are still just a drop in the bucket.
I’ve tried to add to the diversity of characters within the field while not making too big of a deal about it. The Lazarus Gray series not only features Samantha Grace as a major part of the storyline but I also have Eun Jiwon, a member of the team who is both homosexual and Korean. In Gravedigger, we have Li Yuchun, a Chinese American, and Mitchell, a British hero of African descent. I’m not doing this to make any kind of point, really — I simply want to reflect the real world, which the original pulps didn’t always do.
But I’m proudest of my female heroes. I think they’re all very well-rounded individuals, worthy of standing toe-to-toe with the classic heroes of yore. They’re not defined by their gender, either. I treat them as people first — they just happen to be women. Guan-Yin is brave and daring, driven by a need to prove herself and to find out what happened to her missing father. Fiona Grace (Rabbit Heart) is part of a deadly game played by immortals, forced into an archetypal role that she simultaneously embraces and fights against. Violet Cambridge (The Damned Thing) is a tough-as-nails woman in a gritty noir adventure, caught up in the mystery of who’s killed both her husband and her partner. Charity Grace (Gravedigger) is given three years to redeem her soul, after a lifetime of sin. On the Claws of The Peregrine team, we have Revenant and Esper, both of whom are just as essential to the group’s success as the male members. And, of course, I could never forget Evelyn Davies, The Peregrine’s wife and frequent adventuring partner.
All of them are beautiful, yes — but this is adventure fiction. The women are beautiful and the men are handsome. I never try to objectify my female characters any more than I do the male ones — in other words, I do objectify them in the sense that they’re attractive and this is mentioned… but they’re far more than that. Pulp is escapism and part of the appeal is that our heroes (male & female) are larger-than-life. They’re gorgeous, they’re brave and they’re heroic. They’re idealized. Even in Rabbit Heart, which is highly charged with sex and violence, I don’t think I treat the women in the story any different than I do the males — some of them are very emotionally unstable, some are promiscuous and some are just downright nasty… but that’s true of both genders in the story. And Fiona Grace, though driven by powerful needs, is still an idealized heroine who rises above it all. Yes, Fiona’s outfit on the cover is risque — but if you read the story, you’ll know there’s a major reason why it’s shown that way. The story deals with archetypes and the way society views them — and Fiona is forced to play that part, to a degree.
The projects I have coming from Pro Se over the next few years will see a lot of new female leads – I’ve written a novel starring Lilith, for instance – so hopefully you’ll be pleased with my continuing efforts to create strong female characters.
The Strange Tale Of… Catalyst!
Catalyst, at least in the form of Nathaniel Caine, is one of my oldest characters. I created him way back in 1985 and he went through several permutations, popping up in various stories, comic book scripts, fanfiction and roleplaying campaigns over the years. When I finally became a professional writer, it was only a matter of time before Nathaniel would enter my Reese Unlimited universe. Why does he still linger, when so many of my other characters from my youth have fallen by the wayside? I’m not sure. He was the first creation of mine that I felt was worthy of saving… plus I always loved his green color scheme. Credit has to go to Cari Reese for taking my original (and very derivative) costume designs and merging them with the Kirby-esque Asgardian and New Gods looks that I desired. Other artists have depicted him since then but all of them have used her costume design.
So who or what is… The Catalyst?
The Gifted is the name given to humans that possess the natural ability to tap into the most primal forces in existence – the stuff that normal humans called Magic. The Catalyst is the High Mage of his era and generally there is only one per century, though their tenure sometimes varied in length and occasionally overlapped. They could be recognized not only by their power but by a peculiar uniform that went along with the responsibility of wielding that much magical ability… an emerald set of clothing that changed appearance with the times but always bore a similar look.
Historically, the first Catalyst that we’ve seen in my universe is actually Andre Thierry, the Catalyst of the 19th century. A creole sorcerer, Thierry’s first recorded activity involved brokering a peace between local farmers and a subterranean race of monsters known as The Shamblers. This treaty took place in 1853 and was mentioned in the story “It Wants To Kill You” that appeared in the eighth volume of The Adventures of Lazarus Gray. In 1903, Thierry died in mystical combat but he used a spell powered by his will to retain his corporeal nature. In this form, he remained on earth, combating evil into the 1930s. In 1937, he journeyed to Sovereign City and aided Lazarus Gray in defeating The Three Sisters (aka Selene, Fiona and Phoebe). These events are shown in “Immortals,” a story that appeared in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume 5. In that same volume, he helped make sure that Lazarus and Kelly’s wedding went off without interruption by any of their enemies (“Wedding Bells”). Less than a year later, in 1938, Thierry’s time as Catalyst came to an end, as his spirit was destroyed during the events depicted in the novel Götterdämmerung.
With Thierry dead, the time was right for a new Catalyst to emerge.
Nathaniel Caine was a police officer in England during this time and he’d fallen into a deep depression following the murder of his girlfriend by a killer known as Tweedledum in 1936. Caine distrusted vigilantes due to the fact that Dan Daring had failed to stop the murder. By 1942, he was a frustrated man, ready to call it quits on his career. That was when he met The Peregrine and a young psychic named Rachel Winters, embarking on a bizarre adventure involving a Nazi experiment called The Un-Earth. Nathaniel and Rachel became lovers, he took on the role of Catalyst and Rachel became his partner, known to the public as Esper. All of this was depicted in “Catalyst,” which appears in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One.
Nathaniel made his first visit to the United States in 1943 when he was contacted by members of Assistance Unlimited. Lazarus Gray was experiencing a spiritual crisis and the team needed Catalyst’s help in returning Gray to the dimension known as Dread Carcosa. After aiding Lazarus in this affair, Catalyst returned to England. These events are depicted in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Twelve.
In 1944, Catalyst and Esper were recruited by The Peregrine into a strikeforce known The Claws of The Peregrine. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, the group initially consisted of Catalyst, Esper, Revenant and Frankenstein’s Monster. As a team, they successfully took part in two adventures during this year – “The Diabolical Mr. Dee” and “A Plague of Wicked Men”, both of which are in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two.
The Claws of The Peregrine next appear in 1946’s “The Ivory Machine” which is also in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two. The group added several new members following this adventure but Catalyst and Esper remained key players in their activities.
It’s unknown how long the group remained active — we do know that by 2006, Rachel was dead but Nathaniel was still operating as Catalyst.
In at least one possible timeline, he aided The Peregrine in dealing with the rise and fall of The Black Mass Barrier. In that same timeline, he also aided Babylon in dealing with a mystical assault in London in 2011. Shortly after 2012, he finally passed on, leaving the door open for a future Catalyst to emerge. These stories appear in The Second Book of Babylon, “The Black Mass” (The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One) and “The Four Peregrines” (The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two).
There are many adventures of Nathaniel (and other Catalysts!) still to be told. As a matter of fact, there are whispered rumors around Reese Unlimited that we might see a brand-new Catalyst introduced in 2022….
The Sword of Hel
One of the books that should drop soon is a collection of sword & sorcery stories starring Grimarr, the Sword of Hel. A Viking warrior that dies an ignoble death, he finds himself in the Norse underworld. Desperate to redeem himself and find entrance into Valhalla, Grimarr accepts an offer from Hel, the goddess that rules the realms of the dead. In exchange for being her champion on Earth, he will be returned to life so that he may prove his valor. Thus, he begins a second life — one filled with conflict, for he must travel the globe battling warlords, evil sorcerers, and mystic creatures.
Think of it as my love letter to Robert E. Howard. I hope you enjoy it when it arrives! Our art today is of Grimarr and is courtesy of superstar artist Chris Batista!