The Pulp Super-Fan Tackles Lazarus Gray Volume Ten

Michael Brown, aka the Pulp Super-Fan, has posted a review of the latest Lazarus Gray volume. Here’s what he had to say:

Just before the end of 2021, we got a new Lazarus Gray book, The Adventures of Lazarus Gray, Vol. 10, from Barry Reese. I was expecting to see this some time ago, as Reese has already written through 13, so I hope we’ll see the rest more quickly.

“The Adventures of Lazarus Gray, Vol. 10″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, and has a group of associates organized as “Assistance Unlimited.”

Gray 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. This time, we get two stories with some additional folks, some of whom have appeared in prior volumes.

First up, we get a short story, “Satan’s Lair,” that does not contain Gray, but introduces a new group, The Heroes! Most of the group have appeared before. The Black Terror (the classic comic book character introduced previously, though with a slightly different origin) meets the group in New York. The rest of the group is The Fighting Yank (another classic comic book character who previously appeared), The Golden Amazon (a classic British character who was previously introduced, but with a slightly changed origin), and Olga Mesmer, who called them together.

Olga Mesmer is a classic pulp heroine. But she appeared in short comic stories (probably three to four pages each) that ran in Spicy Mystery Stories in 1937-38 before being replaced by Vera Ray. As I’ve never read any of her stories, I wish someone would reprint them! But know she is “The Girl With the X-Ray Eyes.” We are told her origin, but I don’t know how much is what was in the original stories. If the “Sally the Sleuth” stories are any indication, the originals were probably a bit bareboned in regards to character development.

Anyway, in this story, the group comes together for the first time to fight against Doctor Satan and his new female assistant. This will be the first of several appearances by this new group, which will be connected to Assistance Unlimited via The Black Terror.

The rest of the volume is taken up by the much longer “Lazarus at War,” which is set just after the attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the men injured there is given powers by the goddess Eris, and sent to cause chaos, taking the name Phasma. He plans on doing so by finding the four parts that makes up a mystical device. And Lazarus and his associates works to find them when they get a hint of this. At the same time, Lazarus tries to get his group involved in helping the U.S. government, which leads them in joining up with a shadowy agency. Added to that, a villain tied to Abigail decides to make his move against Assistance Unlimited.

As things move to a conclusion, along the way Babylon (a new character created by Reese who appeared in another book I’ve reviewed) assists as do members of the Heroes to help Lazarus and Assistance Unlimited put an end to the schemes to create chaos in Sovereign City. How will some of these events affect future stories, especially when the secrets of Lazarus and his friends are revealed?

I hope we get the next volume soon (as I noted that Reese has written up through volume 13) rather than wait a whole year. In addition, if you check his timeline, you see references to a few other works that aren’t out. But a new one, The Sword of Hel has been released. I hope the others will appear soon and that we’ll also see more new stories with Assistance Unlimited set in the 1960s.

Thanks, Michael! You’ve been a great supporter of my work over the years and I’m always curious to see what you think of the new volumes. Volume 11 should be out very soon!

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