Another Lilith Review

Michael Brown, the Pulp Super-Fan posted a review of the Chronicles of Lilith book. Here’s what he had to say:

“Along with the recent release of the latest Lazarus Gray volumes from Barry Reese, we get another novel set in the Reese Unlimited universe: The Chronicles of Lilith.

It stars Lilith, Adam‘s first wife, who was introduced into the universe in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray, Vol. 11, in her first solo adventure, mainly set in modern times.

So for those not aware, Lilith is not from the Bible but comes from Jewish and Mesopotamia mythology. She is supposedly the first wife of Adam, created as a co-equal. But was expected to be subservient to Adam, which she balked at, and was banished from Eden. She is immortal but has no special powers. She has existed over the centuries, working behind the scenes, and has a group of female followers, her Crimson Ladies. As noted, she appeared in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray, Vol. 11, helping out the group before going on her way.

This novel starts in 1835 England at a manor house. A young girl comes to work there, meets the members of the family, and also discovered Lilith there, who has been imprisoned through mystical means. She is freed and takes action against the family for their crimes against women.

The story continues in modern times (2019). As all Reese’s recent works have been set in the 1940s, I should note that we haven’t had many works set in more modern times. One thing that had happened in the timeline is that Max Davies, who was The Peregrine in the 1930s and ’40s, had come back to life, though he disguises this as being his grandson and works as a P.I.

We get some horrific serial murders, which are tied to a mysterious man calling himself The Caretaker, who has a partner named Kio. This somehow draws out Lilith, as there is a connection between this Caretaker and Lilith. Lilith happens to know the Atlanta City police chief, as she was once part of her Crimson Ladies. And Max is also pulled in, though this is more Lilith’s story than a Peregrine story.

Warning for some, there are some disturbing scenes of torture and murder.

Lilith, along with Max and the police chief, must figure out who the killers are and who The Caretaker is. Along the way, it’s discovered what his connection to Lilith is. And before they can put a stop to them all, sadly others will die.

I had been hoping for some time for new Peregrine stories. There has been an almost exclusive focus on Lazarus Gray. Though Max appears here, he doesn’t quite appear as The Peregrine. And as there are other works planned for this universe, I don’t know when we’ll see a full Peregrine story, or additional stories with Lilith. But this should be checked out, especially if you found the character interesting after her recent appearance.”

Thanks, Michael. People seem really taken aback by the sex and violence in this one. Honestly, I didn’t think it was that extreme!

As for The Peregrine, there was a novel in the works by another author but I’m not sure where that one stands. Every now and then I kick around the idea of doing a new tale with Max as the lead – we’ll see.

Uh-Oh! Lilith takes a hit!

It’s never easy to get a negative review, even when you’ve been writing for as long as I have. Making it even harder is when that review comes from someone that has been a long-time fan. ChickJ posted a review of the Lilith novel and have it just 1 star. His review was titled This should have an X/MA warning label. Here’s his review:

“This is a hard review for me. I have really enjoyed Barry’s stories and books. But this time he got into some really disgusting, violence sex descriptions. Now at my age I can shrugged it off. But younger people and most adults I believe will really offended. I think Barry should take this book off the market and make it a lot less graphic. The story is fine and I like some of the characters, but it is too graphic for most people. Can’t recommended it.”

Sorry to read this, my friend! Whenever I do a new series or a new standalone story, I always try to make it a little different in an attempt to take my writing in new directions. With Lilith, it was meant to be a modern-day thriller and I definitely tried to lean into explicit horror more than I do with Lazarus Gray or Gravedigger. This book is far from my most “out there” work, though! Avoid Rabbit Heart if this one was too much for you. Hopefully you’ll like my future works more.

Late June Updates

Currently working on the fifteenth volume of the Lazarus Gray series – it’s about 20% complete at the moment. I think it fits in well with what’s come before while also taking us in a slightly new direction. As the series goes on, it becomes harder and harder to find subject matter that I haven’t already mined in one novel or another.

I spend a lot of of time looking at occult artifacts, legends, conspiracies, etc. and it seems like I’m running out of plot ideas at times. I haven’t really dealt with the major cryptids, I suppose – Bigfoot, Nessie, etc. You’ll know I’m getting desperate when you see Assistance Unlimited visiting Scotland and Lazarus starts wrestling with sea serpents.

Hmm. Actually, those don’t seem like such bad ideas…

Murder Unlimited! (Updated 6/17/2022)

One 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! The roster this time consisted of:

  • Nemesis
  • Bushido
  • Eidolon
  • The Golden Amazon

This foursome nearly flooded the world and probably came the closest to victory for any Murder Unlimited grouping to this point. In the end, Eidolon betrayed the villains and returned to the side of Assistance Unlimited while the Golden Amazon also decided that she was no longer interested in working alongside Nemesis and Bushido. Nemesis died on this adventure, seemingly putting an end to this incarnation of the team.

Three years later (1944), another version came together. This one was led by one of the most infamous criminal masterminds of all time: Fantômas! This sadistic criminal was obsessed with destroying the very idea of Assistance Unlimited and was willing to go to incredible lengths to do so. The full roster of this group was:

  • Fantômas – A French super-criminal, this madman became obsessed with Lazarus Gray after a chance meeting in Gray’s youth. With his own death approaching, Fantômas decides that he wishes to seal his legacy by destroying Assistance Unlimited.
  • Black Diamond – A cunning woman with dozens of identities, she is a longtime associate of Fantômas.
  • Count Orlok – An ancient vampire recruited from a decrepit castle in Romania, Orlok is enticed by the promise of receiving the potent blood of such unusual beings as the witch Abby Cross and the metahuman Blue Fire.
  • Randolph Winthrop – Lazarus Gray’s uncle, recruited for his knowledge of his nephew. A career grifter, Randolph quickly finds himself in over his head.

This group manages to kill a member of Assistance Unlimited, badly wound multiple members, and assassinate a support member of the team — as well as seize control of 6196 Robeson Avenue!

It seems likely that the horrible legacy of Murder Unlimited will continue…

A Quiet Review

ChickJ, who has reviewed quite a few books from Reese Unlimited over the years, is back with a look at Nightveil: The Quiet Girls, a novel I wrote a few years back starring AC Comics’ Nightveil character. He gave the book 4 stars out of 5 on and titled his review A simple but enjoyable book. Here’s the rest of his review:

A very good old time pulp book. (It is really new but it feels like a pulp from the 40’s.) The side characters are more interesting then the heroine. Alonzo, Charlotte, Elizabeth, and Ghoulie really made the book. I wonder if they will show up in other of his books. Recommended for all pulp fans.

First off, thanks for saying that it felt like an old-school pulp novel. That was definitely the feel that I was going for! As for the characters you mention, I had a lot of writing them but I haven’t really thought about bringing any of them back… Now that you’ve put the idea into my head, I’ll see what I can do.

Thanks again!

The image accompanying this post is by Will Meugniot, an old friend of mine that’s worked with me on a handful of projects in the past. I’ve always loved his version of Nightveil!

The Pulp Super-Fan Looks at Lazarus 11-13!

Michael Brown, aka The Pulp Super-Fan is back with a massive look at Lazarus Gray Volumes 11-13. You can read his words by clicking here. As always, I appreciate Michael taking the time to look over the books and his insightful analysis of each. He had a few questions so I’ll try to answer them here:

  1. The Puzzler is an actual Golden Age enemy of the Black Terror. He first appeared in America’s Best Comics #30 (April 1949). As is usual when I use public domain characters, I took a few liberties with his backstory.
  2. L’ Homme Fantastique is a brand-new character that I created just for Volume 12. He’s proven popular with readers so he may pop up again in the future.
  3. The “Silver Age” Assistance Unlimited will definitely return. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about their first adventure. I’m currently writing Lazarus Gray 15 but I plan to work on the second Silver Age book next.

While you’re there looking over Michael’s review, check out all of his other posts as well!

A Minor Update

Sorry for the lack of posts lately – I’ve begun work on the fifteenth volume of Lazarus Gray and I’ve actually written a few poems over the last week, which is pretty rare for me. I’m still waiting on Omnium Gatherum to move forward in the publishing queue, as well, so maybe there will be an update on that front soon.

Been playing some of the Marvel Multiverse Roleplaying Game Playtest. Has a few significant flaws but I also think it has a ton of potential. Hopefully the full version will come out next year and repair some of those problematic areas.

I’ll be back soon with more details about my various projects.

A Trio of Reviews

We have three small reviews that have been posted recently on Amazon. Let’s look at them in the order they were posted, shall we?

First up, is one by a user named Green Dragon. He reviewed Restless: An Anthology of Mummy Horror and gave the book five stars. Here’s what he said: “A great collection of new stories! I enjoyed every one of them!”

Next up was a review by thefuntony of The Sword of Hel. He gave it 5 stars and said: “Loved this and really would like to see a few follow up stories with these characters. Had been putting off reading as I am not a huge fan of Viking stories but loved this! Hoping we see much more of the Sword of Hel!”

Finally, Tony posted another review a few days later, this time of The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Nine. It was another 5 star review: “So very happy to see more books in the LG timeline. I had to go back and catch up so it was a bit of a wait to get to 9 but definitely worth it. Starting 10 now and the fun continues. No spoilers for you but I will say he throws in so many plot twists and turns, it was fun to get to the end to see how it all worked out. Even with the new characters and newer characters he keeps you on the edge of your seat with all the action. Can’t wait to get thru the next few.”

Thanks for the reviews, guys!

Lazarus Volume 12 Review

Ray Bara, who recently reviewed volume 11 on Amazon, is back with his views on the follow-up. He gave the book five stars and titled the review “Lazarus Gray Resurrects Himself Again!” Here’s the rest of his review: “How does he do it? Barry Reese keeps kicking it up a notch with each addition to his Lazarus Gray series. This one adds the usual heaping helping of action. He then adds some new characters like Blue Fire and L’Homme Fantastique, whom I absolutely loved. LHF is enigmatic, ambiguous, and intriguing all at the same time, and is a great addition to the Sovereign landscape. Speaking of landscape, Lazarus has to return to Dread Carcosa, the unforgiving landscape where he has some unfinished business from a few volumes ago. Reese also closed up the plot twist from the last volume, thankfully allowing me to pick my jaw off the proverbial floor by explaining Lazarus’ bizarre behavior in that previous story. I also enjoyed how Kelly Gray has become a more pivotal part of Assistance Unlimited, not just a background character anymore. Reese put together an epic plot in Volume 12, with a great story, a huge cast of wonderful characters, and plenty of excitement all the way through. I’m looking forward to Volume 13 to see where he takes Assistance Unlimited next. What a great read!”

Thanks, Ray! Volume 12 was a real challenge to write – I knew the secret behind the eleventh book’s twist, of course, but I knew that revealing it had to be done just right… and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. I’m glad you liked the way it turned out. L’Homme Fantastique doesn’t appear in volumes 13 or 14 but I do have more ideas for him so maybe in 15…? We’ll have to see!

Thanks again, Ray!

Reese Unlimited Timeline (Updated 6/1/2022)

Major Events specific to certain stories and novels are included in brackets. Some of this information contains SPOILERS for The Peregrine, Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger and other stories. 

~ 800 – Viking warrior Grimarr dies of disease but is resurrected as the Sword of Hel. He adventures for some time as Hel’s agent on Earth. [The Sword of Hel]. 

~ 1620 – Gwydion fab Dôn is captured by the witch Rhianna in France. She punishes him by binding his spirit to a bundle of rags. [“Gwydion,” The Adventures of the Straw-Man Volume One]

1748 – Johann Adam Weishaupt is born. 

Continue reading Reese Unlimited Timeline (Updated 6/1/2022)