Lazarus at War Review

Amazon user ChickJ had the following review of The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Ten. He gave it four out of five stars:

Lazarus at War is the reason to read this book. If you love reading about Lazarus Gray, this story is a must. But the first story The Heroes in Satan’s Lair, you should skip. And the cover is the worst one I have seen in a long time. If I hadn’t read this series before I would have given this book a hard pass, just on the cover alone. (In fact I wouldn’t read the book if I got paid to. That how bad I thought of the cover.) Calling all Lazarus Gray fans, a must read. If you haven’t read one, go start on Lazarus Gray Vol. 1. Not this one. Still I can’t wait for the next Lazarus Gray book.

First of all, thanks for the review Chick — and I’m really pleased that you enjoyed the Lazarus at War story. The first story was meant for an anthology that ended up not being published so Pro Se decided to place it at the beginning of this volume. I had some qualms about opening the book with a lengthy story that doesn’t feature Lazarus Gray at all but it was still the best place for it. I actually thought the story was a good one – I’m a fan of all the characters involved and I never miss an opportunity to use Doctor Satan.

As for the cover, it is definitely a shift in style and tone from previous books but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Jeffrey Hayes is a talented artist and I’ve heard from many readers that love the cover art. This is the first book for which I did contract the cover art — prior to this one I contacted the artist, paid for it, etc. but with the change in my working agreements with Pro Se, it was decided that they would choose the artwork for the series beginning with this volume. Mr. Hayes will be doing the covers for volumes eleven and twelve, as well, which comprise a trilogy of sorts.

A Brief Update

At a low point mentally and emotionally – hopefully it will pass soon. In the meantime, I’m writing a Nature Boy/Nature Girl story. Not sure it’ll go anywhere but it’s keeping me busy until I get a real idea.

Currently reading The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker. It’s okay so far but I’m only about thirty pages in.

No new reviews of The Sword of Hel or Lazarus Gray Volume Ten though LG has now gotten three ratings and is currently sitting at 4.75 out of 5 stars. Not bad.

Frustrations

The past couple of days have been trying ones for me – I suffer from anxiety and depression at the best of times but at the moment I’m feeling annoyed with my writing career. The negative reaction to The Sword of Hel is demoralizing in the sense that when I try to branch out from my usual work, it doesn’t seem to go over well… whereas the ratings for the tenth book in the Lazarus Gray series are, as usual, high. I’m not unhappy with my ‘normal’ work but it does seem like what most people want is for me to just continue doing the same old, same old. Of course, sales in general have stagnated in recent years and I continue to feel totally ignored by the ‘critics’. I’ve often said that I have a compulsion to write and that I’ve tried to quit numerous times over the years. There are definitely moments when I wish I could wash my hands of it all and just turn my back on all these characters and series — but I’ve learned that I’d just be drawn back in by some half-assed idea lol

Oh, well. Happy Monday!

The Nature of Things…

I hope you’re sitting someplace comfortable because this might take awhile. It all started when I was working on the 13th volume of the Lazarus Gray series. I’ve always loved public domain characters and I was aware that Fawcett’s Marvel Family was partially in the public domain – you could do stories with them as long as you didn’t veer into trademark territory by naming them on the covers and so forth. I had the fun idea of having an amnesiac Billy Batson show up in Sovereign City, eventually remember his magic word, and become Captain Marvel… though I considered having him adopt a new name since most of his memories wouldn’t be restored. My longtime friend, Sorella Smith, had another idea — why not substitute the potentially troublesome Captain Marvel with another character that was far safer to use. She suggested that I look into Nature Boy, an old Charlton character that starred in Nature Boy issues 3-5 (1956). The series had some really early John Buscema artwork and featured a Nature Girl in a one-page appearance in issue 5, as well as a Nature Man in issue who may or may not have been an adult Nature Boy. The potential for a “Nature Family” was right there. I loved the idea, commissioned Gilberto Monsanto to do updated costumes for both Nature Boy and Nature Girl, and set to work bringing Nature Boy into volume 13. Nature Boy later returned in a novel I wrote called Omnium Gatherum and this time he brought Nature Girl with him. A lot of people thought they were twins so they were often referred to as such but in actually Nature Boy was the older of the two. This is how Nature Boy explained his origins in Omnium Gatherum, keeping in mind that all references to Sovereign City and Dorcas Rose were mine:

“My full name is David Crandall. I was the son of a wealthy family who, when lost at sea, was saved from drowning by the gods who rule each of the elements. They each gifted me with their powers – from Neptune, water; from Gusto, winds; from Fura, fire; from Eartha, earth; from Allura, love; from Azura, the skies; from Electra, electricity; and from Friga, ice. I was eventually returned to my family in Sovereign City and I became Nature Boy, using my powers to fight crime. In the early days, I had to ask the gods to let me use their abilities but later on, they drifted away and trusted me to do what was right. It wasn’t all good times, though – my father was badly injured by an evil woman named Dorcas Rose and my mother was never really the same after. Over time I found that I don’t age like other people do… so even though I’ve thought about changing my name to Nature Man a few times, it just never sticks!”

Now in the original comics Nature Girl’s true name was never given so I decided to call her Darla. This was her origin, as she explained in the same book. Note that this origin was all mine as she didn’t have an origin in the old comics:

“After his dad was hospitalized, his mom was looking for something to keep her and Davey going so they adopted me. At first, I didn’t know that David was sneaking out at night to play superhero but when I saw him crawling out his window one evening, I followed him and learned his secret. The gods decided to give me the same powers so I could help him! Because we look so similar, people often referred to us as the Nature Twins… but he’s really older than me, which I never let him forget!”

Simple enough, eh? Well, I’ve never been one to leave well enough alone so it was revealed that both Nature Boy and Nature Girl were actually products of the same experiments that developed the Black Terror and the British hero known as Intrepid. A scientist named James Anderson was to become an integral part of the Nature Twins’ story.

In 1932 he was brought onto a military project as a consultant. His speciality had been herbology and at first he couldn’t fathom why the United States government wanted or needed him for Top Secret work. 

Then he discovered that Uncle Sam was in the midst of trying to grow their own super-powered beings. In recent years, a number of masked vigilantes and well-known adventurers had captured the public’s attention and there were rumors that other nations were trying to create their own special agents of the same sort. Since all of the American-based heroes operated outside of government control, there were concerns about their trustworthiness and effectiveness – after all, men like Leonid Kaslov and The Peregrine had saved the nation’s bacon on many occasions… but Kaslov was a Russian and The Peregrine was deemed a loose cannon.

The process of making superhumans was mostly a theory when Anderson came aboard but it quickly became a reality. The idea was to take human cell tissue and bond it with plantlife, allowing them to grow pods that would contain an outwardly human being within. The pace of growth could be stimulated or slowed based upon the amount of hormones and sunlight that were given to the pods… and, more importantly of all, false memories could be implanted into the plant/human hybrids so that, for instance, they might remember having human parents, lovers, and more. 

The experiment had yielded a major success in 1934 with the ‘birth’ of a hybrid that believed itself to be a human being named Bob Benton. In Benton’s mind, he was a chemist that had discovered a compound he dubbed ‘formic ethers’ and became a costumed vigilante known as The Black Terror. He was even given memories of a fictitious girlfriend and kid sidekick, along with a strong patriotic nature. 

At first it had all gone perfectly: the Black Terror had been dispatched on one mission after another, smashing communist cells, bootleggers, and more, all in the name of the good ‘ol U.S.A. When he returned back to the plain, barely-furnished room that he lived in, he’d have a new set of updated, manufactured memories implanted — new dates he’d gone on with the fictitious Jean Starr, bonding experiences with his young ward, Tim Roland. It was all designed to give him the impression that he was a living, breathing man… and not simply a weapon to be rolled out when the time was right.

Eventually, however, The Black Terror uncovered the truth… and he fled from his government handlers. Encountering Lazarus Gray and his Assistance Unlimited team, the hybrid joined them and remained with them for several years, even aiding them in 1937 when they encountered another rogue creation of the American superhuman program: a madman dubbed Titan. In the aftermath, Bob Benton used the technology that had been used to create him to make ‘real’ versions of Jean Starr and Tim Roland, implanting them with memories to ensure their similarity to the ‘people’ he had known. 

In 1938 the English equivalent was unveiled – a modern knight in shining armor known as Intrepid. Unlike the American versions, this one proved loyal and true. Wielding his sword (which the public believed to be the legendary Excalibur), the original Intrepid defended England well into the early 1960s. 

It was 1943 before the United States had its first loyal test subject… and it came about after Anderson and the entire project had come under the auspices of Project: Cicada, a shadowy government agency that was American’s answer to the Nazi’s Occult Forces Project, which had produced dozens of superpowered agents. Cicada had divisions dedicated to occultism, mentalism, and every known branch of parapsychology… which led to some effective cross-pollination. One division had found the remains of an alien being several years before and it had been Anderson’s idea to mix that DNA into the cocktail used to create the Black Terror and Titan. 

What emerged from this was a young man with an almost godlike-aura of goodness that surrounded him. With implanted memories of having been granted powers over nature by a plethora of gods (some of whom bore rather silly names in Anderson’s opinion), Nature Boy was released on his first mission towards the end of the year. Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t have been worse as a strange alignment of the stars wreaked havoc with Nature Boy’s implanted memories and for a brief time he wandered Sovereign City as an amnesiac. After teaming with Assistance Unlimited to save the city from a reborn Egyptian pharaoh named Rama-Memnon, Nature Boy was returned to the Project’s control. 

He was pure of heart and eager to please but this led to some problems – he was not suited for certain missions because of his morals. When some people wanted to try and change his personality, Anderson had stepped in and protected the boy. In fact, he urged Project: Cicada to create other agents for those darker jobs… they should embrace Nature Boy for what he was: a loyal and heroic young man with tremendous power. There was something innately divine in Nature Boy and Anderson couldn’t help but wonder if this was because of the myth they’d spun in the boy’s false memories or if it stemmed from the alien DNA that was part of the proverbial soup from which David had sprung.

Anderson won the fight and was given control over the Nature Boy project. The first thing he did was create a sister for him, a Nature Girl, that would only solidify his feelings of loyalty to the program. The so-called Nature Twins were trustworthy agents of the American Government well into the 1970s… when changing politics resulted in Project:Cicada being shut down. Both Nature Boy and Nature Girl were designated for disposal but Anderson hid them away in suspended animation at an abandoned Cicada lab… and that’s where they remained until 2021 when they were awakened by a couple of teenagers, Jazlyn and Jimmy Tompkins. The Nature Twins were reunited with Prof. Anderson and aided a group known as E-Force in repelling an alien invasion. What the future holds for the good-natured duo is unknown.

What Next?

Finished off the second Straw-Man volume so now I’m in between projects. This is both a fun period and a maddening one because I’m temporarily free of feeling like I have to keep up with a deadline but also I’m overwhelmed by the possibilities. Should I work on the fifteenth volume of Lazarus Gray? The third Straw-Man collection? Is it time to go back to The Peregrine? Maybe I should do something completely different? What about all the cool background characters I’ve developed over the years, like Leonid Kaslov or The Darkling or Jupiter (from Straw-Man)? Maybe they deserve their own shot at stardom?

It’s been years since I featured all my heroes in one adventure… maybe it’s time for another crossover novel?

See what I mean? It’s exciting and anxiety-inducing!

What would you like to see?

Princess Femi

A good villain can make all the difference.

With The Peregrine, most of his enemies were dead and buried by the end of each adventure, though he had a few (The Warlike Manchu, for instance) who made return appearances. When I created Lazarus Gray, I knew that one of the things I wanted to do with the series was to create a series of recurring villains. I wanted him to have a vibrant rogue’s gallery that could return again and again.

But which of his enemies stands above the rest? If our hero is defined by his villains, which of those foes is his dark mirror?

Obviously, Lazarus Gray has Walther Lunt, his former mentor. Lunt was a major force in Volumes One and Two but his death in 1936 (“Die Glocke”) has yet to be undone so aside from casting a looming shadow over the series, he hasn’t been a physical force since then.

So is he really Gray’s arch-enemy? I think he still qualifies but I do think honorable mention must be given to the immortal Princess Femi.

A beautiful Egyptian princess, Femi was involved with a cult known as The Undying. This group repudiated the Gods, believing that mankind was itself the highest form of life – they frequently shouted “God Is Dead!” as a way of displaying their blasphemous beliefs. In retribution, the priests of Egypt captured Femi and mummified her, using special magicks to keep her alive, in an eternal sleep.

In early 1935, she managed to make a psychic connection with a man who had bought her corpse, intending to display it in his house. The man used a powerful gem to revive Femi, who was reunited with the remains of The Undying. Femi was now able to control the undead but her power came with a price — she now had to feed on human flesh to remain young.The exact process that Femi uses to create her armies of mummified warriors is mystical in nature and bestows upon her followers great strength and durability. The tale of her resurrection and subsequent battle with Assistance Unlimited took place in “The Corpse Screams At Midnight!”

Her next appearance spanned late 1935 and early ’36, as Walther Lunt revived her to accompany him on his search for the Die Glocke.

Later in 1936, Femi was resurrected yet again by Constance Majestros, who formed Murder Unlimited in direct opposition to Assistance Unlimited. Femi and Constance were joined by Abraham Klee, Stanley Davis and Doc Pemberley. Femi and Pemberley became lovers at this point though the romance was a disturbing one for both parties. This time, Abigail Winters (a member of Assistance Unlimited) defeated Femi in single combat. She was placed in a locked room at 6196 Robeson Avenue, becoming a prisoner of Lazarus Gray. This adventure was detailed in “Murder Unlimited.”

At some unknown point, her body was stolen by the madman known as Dr. York, who attempted to revive her in Atlanta so that she might aid him against The Peregrine. This revival literally lasted only a few moments before she was put down once more and returned to the care of Assistance Unlimited (“The Peregrine Animated Script,” The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Three).

Unfortunately, she was freed a short time later (in the story “Eidolon”) and became involved in an attempt to revive an ancient devil. Working alongside a Nazi werewolf named Silverwolf, Femi ended up facing the mysterious vigilante known as Darkling. Darkling managed to destroy her once more.

We later discovered that her remains were kept in an urn at Robeson Avenue (“The Felonious Financier”) in 1937 but she was revived just in time for a group of Egyptians serving the ancient gods to come calling in hopes of destroying her once and for all. Femi gains a handmaiden named Madison Montgomery, a girlfriend of Morgan Watt’s who becomes enamored of Femi’s power. The duo found themselves briefly allied with The Three Sisters (Selene, Phoebe & Fiona), three immortal witches that sought to control Sovereign City. At the end of this adventure, Femi and Madison escape the clutches of Assistance Unlimited. Madison is now empowered by a small fraction of the same energy that preserves Femi, making them a deadly pair (“Immortals”).

Femi and Madison are joined by Paul Alfred Müller-Murnau (aka Nemesis) in an attempt to utilize the power of the Emerald Tablet in 1938 (“Nemesis”). Femi seemed to think that her trend of alliances was working for her because in 1939 she teamed up with El Demonio to summon the King in Yellow. Unfortunately, Madison is killed and Femi, after raging at the loss of her handmaiden, is once again returned to death (Lazarus Gray Volume Seven).

Once again, Femi was not dead for long. 1940 saw her in yet another villainous team-up. Gorgana, a foe from a universe protected by Nightveil and the Femforce, allied with Femi to try and wrest control of the world. The plan failed and Femi was, once again, destroyed. (Lazarus Gray/Nightveil: World’s Apart).

Femi was quiet from 1941-1945 and nothing is known about her post-war activities. Has her evil finally been defeated forever?

The Claws of the Peregrine

After I’d finished several stories in The Peregrine series, it occurred to me that I’d introduced quite a few supporting characters that were worthy of stories in their own right: Leonid Kaslov, Catalyst, Revenant, Rachel Winters, Frankenstein’s Monster, etc. I decided it would make perfect sense to throw some of those characters together and create a spinoff project from The Peregrine Chronicles. I decided to leave out Kaslov and focus on the other four heroes I just mentioned, allowing The Peregrine to serve as their funding agent. I wanted to do the pulp equivalent of the old Batman and the Outsiders series: Batman brought together heroes to serve as his private strike force, handling things he didn’t have the time to do.

This strike force would be known as The Claws of The Peregrine, or simply “The Claws.”

The Claws of the Peregrine were originally meant to be introduced in their own volume. The Peregrine would appear in a major fashion in the first story, then fade into the background, to be used as needed. The first story (“The Diabolical Mr. Dee”) was written and I think it turned out fairly well, though I was obviously still finding my footing with the series.

Then came “A Plague of Wicked Men.”

I forget who came up with the idea of teaming the various Wild Cat Books heroes into one story but I know that Don Lee, Wayne Skiver, the Carney brothers, Ron Hanna and I were all involved in the plotting of the story, which would pit the heroes against a grouping of evil villains. Ron and Wayne wanted to kick the story off by killing an established pulp hero and they chose to make Captain Hazzard the sacrifice. I was worried about how this would look, since Hazzard was very closely identified with the editor-in-chief of one of Wild Cat’s major rivals but I wasn’t really the mover and shaker in the plotting. A scene (by Wayne) was written in which Hazzard was killed and I know Don Lee wrote a scene where the villains first came together.

Then, as is common in these sorts of things, the writers began flaking out. One person had legal issues, another had concerns about the plot, etc.

The project seemed dead.

Then I asked if I could take the plot and twist it into a Claws of The Peregrine plot, rewriting the scenes already completed and tweaking it all into something that I felt I could handle on my own. Everyone seemed fine with that and Wayne was gracious enough to allow me to keep his character Prof. Stone in the story. I threw in the Black Bat, Ascott Keane and Ki-Gor to make it even bigger. The story turned out fairly well, though it struggled a bit under its own weight. There were elements of the original plot that I was asked to keep that I would have preferred to jettison but I worked with what I had.

There were now two Claws tales…

And then the decision was made to scuttle the Claws spinoff. Sales on the most recent volume of The Peregrine had been weaker than expected and it was decided to not dilute the brand at this point.

So what to do? I didn’t want to just shelve those stories but at the same time I was feeling burned out on The Peregrine and didn’t really feel like doing a solo Peregrine collection, either.

It was decided to take the two Claws stories and put them into The Peregrine Volume Five. A couple more Claws/Peregrine stories were added to flesh out the volume and voila, we had a book.

But it wasn’t a very good book, in my opinion. It suffered from the fact that you had a book entitled The Peregrine that spent a lot of time with The Peregrine not in it — I was fleshing out characters for their own series, remember, so I had deliberately tried to push The Peregrine into the background of those stories.

It was published, people seemed to regard it as weaker than its predecessors but still good.

Here’s where all the individual members of the team first appeared:

  • Catalyst (Nathaniel Caine) first appeared in “Catalyst.” The story is set in 1942. A predecessor named Andre Theirry also used the Catalyst identity in a series of adventures alongside Lazarus Gray in the 1937-1938 period of time.
  • Esper (Rachel Winters, later Rachel Caine) also first appeared in “Catalyst”. As stated before, the story is set in ’42.
  • Revenant (Sally Pence) first appeared in “Death From the Jungle”. The story is set in 1943.
  • Vincent (aka Frankenstein’s Monster) first appeared in “Satan’s Trial”. This story occurs in late 1943, after “Death From the Jungle.”

The group comes together as The Claws of the Peregrine in 1944, operating out of a two-story house on Peachtree Street nicknamed The Aerie. The group’s meeting room was in the finished basement and there was an extensive library and armory on the second floor. The team first appeared together in “The Diabolical Mr. Dee” before teaming up with several other pulp heroes in “A Plague of Wicked Men.” Both of those adventures were set in ’44. In 1946, they took part in the missions dubbed “The Devil’s Spear” and “The Ivory Machine.” During the latter story, their ranks swelled with the additions of The Black Terror and his partner Tim, Miss Masque, and The Flame. All of those stories are now available in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two.

Nothing is known about the majority of the members past ’46, though in one possible future (“The Four Peregrines”), we see that Catalyst is still alive into the 21st Century, having outlived his wife. Given that everything shown in the series post 2006 is just a potential future, it’s not carved in stone that this is anyone’s ultimate fate, however.

We also know that The Black Terror is still alive in 1964 as he plays a role in ASSISTANCE UNLIMITED: THE SILVER AGE.

I sometimes miss these characters but I’m uncertain if anybody would really want to see them revived. If I do, I’m not certain that the public domain heroes like The Black Terror and Miss Masque will remain with the group — I’d suspect that they’ll become secondary members, who might pop up if needed. I’d probably keep the focus on the main four (plus The Peregrine).

What do you guys say? Anybody want to see these heroes return?

Another Stab to the Heart

So we have another review of Sword of Hel – and once again it’s a negative one! This book is shaping up to be my most unpopular release since I wrote a pirate novel years ago! Richard Fisher gave the book 2 out of 5 stars and titled his review, “Very underwhelming…”

“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!”

What a great synopsis and premise for a story. When this was revealed on social media, I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait for the release. I shared the news as far and wide as I could. Pro Se revealed the cover the next day which added to the anticipation. I wasn’t prepared for the letdown I was to experience.

The Sword of Hel is essentially five stories about Grimarr as The Sword of Hel. Each story is fairly short; the whole book is only 248 pages long. The last 47 pages were a chronological outline of Barry Reese’s Reese Unlimited universe. Until now I was unaware of the author, or this shared universe series, so this additional info was lost on me. This additional info also made the book seem padded.

The first story, The Dogs of War, recounts Grimarr’s pitiful death and his bargain with Hel to retrieve her property. To retrieve the bauble, Grimarr must fight not one demigod but two. This particular mission has a personal stake for Grimarr also, making him determined to attain vengeance.

While Grimarr’s death could be considered ‘dishonorable’ because it wasn’t in combat, I feel like that it’s misleading to label it as such. Also, the importance of Hel’s jewel is never made apparent and largely glossed over by the end of the story.

In the Name of Hel is the second story. Grimarr has been harassing the Iron Brigade, and its leader, Alviss, seeks Grimarr’s death. Grimarr and Alviss face off in a small village.

It Rises from Shadow is third. Grimarr finds himself caught between a dying King, an unscrupulous power-hungry Duke and a love spelled Princess.

The Frozen Fury is fourth. This was perhaps my favorite. Grimarr encounters a battlefield with the dead everywhere. Not from weapons of metal but from tooth and claw. An unexpected ally will fight by his side into the burrows of the serpentine Jargen to discover an existential threat from beyond their world.

The story ends on an odd note though. I know what he means in spirit, but it ruined the story for me.

“Someday he would cross paths with this woman again, he hoped…and on that day, he would see if he could remind her which of them was the man and which was the woman.”

The fifth and final story is called Heaven’s Fire. Grimarr is dispatched to seek out and neutralize an Ifrit. It has been released from captivity and has begun feeding. Between feedings the thing looks like an ordinary man. When the Ifrit takes up with a local death cult, Grimarr must take up allies of his own.

My favorite quote comes from this story. It is from an exchange between Grimarr and the Ifrit.

“What are you? Are you a living man…or the walking dead?”

“I am mortal. And that means that like all living men, I am the walking dead…for death waits for all of us around every corner. It creeps over us at night like a spider, laying its horrible eggs in our heart, draining us of the precious fluids of life. I have seen the goddess of death herself…I have felt her touch upon my shoulder…and I know what awaits us all. I am the Sword of Hel!”

Overall, I was largely dissatisfied with this collection. It was underwhelming to say the least. I loved it at first sight and sorely wanted to continue loving it as I read it, but it was not to be. Honestly it read like the author wanted to pen something that they had never sampled themselves. I was sold on the idea that Grimarr’s dishonor was something bad that he had done to merit punishment and redemption. I also assumed the book would concern the Viking world, but that too soon went afield. The stories were also short and clipped. I suppose this was to make them seem more pulp-like. The reality fell far short of expectation.

Sorry the book disappointed you, Richard! Hopefully you’ll try another of my works and enjoy that one a little better. Thanks for taking the time to review it!

I’d Love to Write *That*!

In my career, I’ve been lucky enough to have worked on several licensed properties: The Avenger, Nightveil, and The Green Hornet to name just three. There are still quite a few characters out there that I’d love to get my grubby little mitts on for a prose story or two. Here’s a few that come to mind right away:

  1. Norgil the Magician – This character was created and written by Walter Gibson, the mastermind behind The Shadow. I’m a big fan of Norgil and even put together a package to try and get the rights a few years back. It didn’t work out but I still think it would be a blast to take this magician on a few crime-busting cases.
  2. Seekay – Created by Paul Ernst, this somewhat obscure character is fascinating and I think I could do some fun things with him.
  3. Batman – There have been great prose stories featuring the Batman over the years and I think every writer, whether in comics or in prose, wants to tackle the character at least once. I have a few ideas that I like to think would stay true to the hero’s character while also avoiding the familiar.
  4. The Shadow – Obviously, doing better than James Patterson’s recent reboot is a fairly low bar. I love the hero and his deep supporting cast — I’d like to stay true to the pulp version of the character and avoid the romance between him and Margot that keeps popping up in the comic book incarnations. The Shadow should be mysterious and aloof… and he’s Kent Allard at his core.
  5. Ghost — the Dark Horse heroine is definitely cut from the same cloth as many of my own characters. Honestly, she’d be right at home in Sovereign City. Having said that, I think it would be fun to take the ghostly avenger onto an adventure or two.

My Favorite Shadow Novels

As most of you know, I’m a big fan of The Shadow – in fact, I used to host a podcast entitled The Shadow Fan. Today I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite Shadow novels, so that if you’re looking to jump into the series, you’ll have some recommendations about where to start. These are by no means all the great Shadow stories — it’s just a handful that I really love. In addition, there are still Shadow novels that I haven’t read yet — so I might go back and add to this list as time passes.

To be honest, I think it’s a great idea to simply start with the first story and go forward — but that’s not always possible, I know. So here are my favorites, in order of publication:

The Living Shadow – April 1, 1931

The Eyes of The Shadow – July-September 1931

The Shadow Laughs – October 1, 1931

Gangdom’s Doom – December 1, 1931

The Death Tower – January 1, 1932

The Ghost of the Manor – June 15, 1933

Murder Every Hour – June 1, 1935

The London Crimes – September 15, 1935

The Sledge-Hammer Crimes – August 1, 1936

Crime, Insured – July 1, 1937

The Shadow Unmasks – August 1, 1937

The Green Hoods – August 15, 1938

Death From Nowhere – July 15, 1939

The Golden Master – September 15, 1939

Shiwan Khan Returns – December 1, 1939

The Invincible Shiwan Khan – March 1, 1940

The Prince of Evil – April 15, 1940

Masters of Death – May 15, 1940

Murder Genius – July 1, 1940

The Man Who Died Twice – September 15, 1940

City of Fear – October 15, 1940

The Devil’s Paymaster – November 15, 1940

The Thunder King – June 15, 1941

The Devil Master – September 15, 1941

Temple of Crime – November 15, 1941

The Book of Death – January 15, 1942

Death’s Bright Finger – May 15, 1942

The Vampire Murders – September 1, 1942

The Black Dragon – March 1, 1943

The Sinister Shadow – 2015