Reese Unlimited Goings-On

The 14th volume of Lazarus Gray has gone into the editing phase and I’ve started work on the fourth book in the Straw-Man series. As has become the norm with these books, it will be a collection of six short stories featuring the tatterdemalion and his allies. I’ve written about 30,000 words of Lazarus Gray 15 but I might set it aside and start over… it’s just not feeling right. Some of you may remember that I wrote an entire novel that would have been 14 before putting it to pasture and beginning again. The second version of 14 is without a doubt one of the best in the series… and, I’ll admit, I’ve even thought about ending the series there.

We’ll see!

Writing Update

I’m approaching the end of the Calavera novel and overall I’m quite pleased with it. In the end, it’s a spiritual sequel to Götterdämmerung, my “crossover” novel that brought in almost all of my 1930s/1940s characters in one big adventure — this one does much the same for my modern-day characters. Some only get a mention but there are pretty big roles for Catalyst, the Straw-Man, Jupiter, and a few others. It also serves as the debut story for Calavera, who will be a major part of the Reese Unlimited universe going forward. This book is set after the first three Straw-Man books so you’ll have to wait to see all of those before you can get the crossover volume… but I know that volume one of the Straw-Man series has gone through the editing process so hopefully, that one will be out fairly soon.

Our image today shows Jupiter in an angry mood and is drawn by Gilbert Monsanto.

The Super-Fan Reviews Lazarus 13

The Pulp Super-Fan, Michael Brown, is back with a look at volume thirteen of the Lazarus Gray series. Let’s see what he says:

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 The Black Terror — we will see some new additions to the group in these, as well as various guest stars. This time, each volume consists of a single novel.

Finally, in Volume 13, we have “An Adventure of Lazarus Gray With Assistance Unlimited” (did someone mess up on the title???). Here the team faces a new threat: a mummy, Rama-Memnon, and his associate, Teddy Pumpkins. They team up with Rose Dorcas, who runs an insane asylum on the outskirts of Sovereign City and had her own mad plans. They devastate Soverign City, but are stopped by AU and some new and old friends. Rama-Memnon has a connection with Princess Femi, who Lazarus and AU battled and defeated in earlier volumes. Hopefully the city can fully recover.

We meet a new superhero: Nature Boy. He’s actually a short-lived superhero from Charlton Comics, all of three issues in 1956-57. You can read them online or in a reprint by Gwandanaland Comics. In the comic, the gods of the elements saved him when he was a baby and granted him powers. But here he’s another “creation” of Project: Cicada, like The Black Terror, though with nature-based powers. So he works for them, though will probably show up in future stories. Another new character is Wynona Jones. She is well skilled with firearms, and has dealt with threats like vampires and more. She will be joining AU.

Returning is Jakob Sporrenberg, who as Eidolon had been a former member (twice) of AU, but left due to his violent nature. He rejoins AU as the less violent The Observer after his experiences here.

I’m not sure when we’ll get Volume 14. I hope it’s not a long wait. In addition, if you check his timeline, you see references to a few other works that aren’t out yet. And some that are, like the new Chronicles of Lilith.

Thanks for the detailed coverage, Michael! I don’t think you’ll have a very long wait for volume 14. It’s complete and in the queue at the always-busy Pro Se Productions publishing house.

Calavera

So I’ve been working hard on the debut novel featuring Calavera, which has turned into a crossover novel for many of the characters that exist in my modern-day. Several years back, I had all my World War II-era characters meet up and this is similar but with the likes of Calavera, Babylon, Catalyst (the 21st century version), the Straw-Man, Jupiter and more all uniting to take on the forces of Heaven and Hell. You’ll also get to meet Lazarus Gray’s grandson, the Reese Unlimited version of Miss Fury and a whole lot more.

I’m over 40,000 words into the novel at the moment and to celebrate how well it’s going I’m going to debut the world’s first look at our heroine — Calavera! Art is by Luis Filipe and he did a wonderful job transforming my ideas into reality! Hope you find her as beautiful and intriguing as I do.

Various and Sundry

So my day job is working as a high school English teacher – and we’ve just wrapped up our first week with the students. With so much of my time being spent on learning my new students and keeping up with meetings, I’ve found my writing time to be severely curtailed!

Still, I’ve been splitting time between the fifteenth volume of Lazarus Gray and a new book starring a character named Calavera. The latter is set in the modern day but it will have… strong… ties to not one but multiple series in my Reese Unlimited universe. I’d love to share an image of Calavera — because the one I have is gorgeous but I don’t want to tip my hand too much.

I hope you guys take to her. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year creating a whole modern-day side of the universe, with Lilith, the upcoming Straw-Man books, and Omnium Gatherum (also waiting to be published) and Calavera will join them. So far, reaction to Lilith has been mixed… hopefully the others will strike a great chord with the readers. And maybe Lilith will find her audience in future years. You never know!

Been splitting time between two roleplaying game systems lately: Prowlers and Paragons and Tiny Supers. PnP is a highly cinematic system that uses lots of 6-sided dice. TS is a rules-lite system that uses no more than three 6-sided dice. Both have their strong points and it’s tough for me to choose one over the other. PnP is better at creating nuanced characters but TS is incredibly easy to pick up, especially for younger players.

Our image today is a gorgeous photo of a young Jessica Lange. She’s a fantastic actress and I had quite a crush on her back in the day. Enjoy!

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 Amazon.com 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!