‘Prey’ Is a Solid Prequel That I Didn’t Even Know I Needed — Future of the Force

Ever since the 1987 classic Predator hit theaters people have tried to recreate the formula that The post ‘Prey’ Is a Solid Prequel That I Didn’t Even Know I Needed appeared first on Future of the Force.

‘Prey’ Is a Solid Prequel That I Didn’t Even Know I Needed — Future of the Force

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!

The Spirit of Vengeance!

One of my oldest Internet friends is Chris Munn. Chris is, arguably, the biggest Ghost Rider fan and expert on the freakin’ planet. Last year he released a book titled Wheels on Fire: An Unofficial Guide to Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider from 1972-1983. I immediately bought it, devoured it, and recommended it to others.

Shortly thereafter, Chris approached me with some fantastic news – he was working on a follow-up, one that would deal with my personal favorite of the Ghost Riders: Daniel Ketch. He then asked me if I would be interested in writing the forward to the book. Of course, I jumped at the chance.

You can now purchase Road to Vengeance: An Unofficial Guide to Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider, From 1990-1993 (Unofficial Guides to Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider from Amazon.com for a paltry $14.95. Definitely go and support Chris — he’s a fantastic writer and he captures the nuances of the stories and their characters quite well.

Our art today is courtesy of Felipe Smith and you can view more of his works at DeviantArt.

Bob Howard Returns

The Cowboy and the Conqueror by Teel James Glenn

The first volume in this series was pretty audacious in its premise: author Robert E. Howard doesn’t commit suicide but instead decides to travel the world, during which he crosses paths with no less than Count Dracula. It was a fantastic book and when I heard a sequel was coming, I was very excited.

This book is very different from the first in that this tale is told from the perspective of a German writer. This means that REH is somewhat removed from the reader. We don’t get to see the ins and outs of his thoughts and he becomes a little more larger-than-life as a result.

Also, our writer is a thinly disguised Adolf Hitler.

Yes, so you probably wonder about that part, don’t you? I was amazed that TJ Glenn would actually try to portray this alternate history version in such a positive light… but there is a scene near the end when our writer-Hitler is confronted with the knowledge of what he’s like in OUR world… and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make the entire book worth it. It’s a tremendous creative risk that was taken here and I’m so impressed (and, as a writer myself, more than a bit jealous) that it was paid off.

If you enjoyed the first book, you owe it to yourself to move on to the second volume. Let’s hope there’s a third book soon.

Recommended Link

If you’re a dedicated follower of this blog, chances are that you’re also a fan of classic and/or new pulp. If so, you owe it to yourself to check out ThePulp.Net. This site not only has news and reviews, it also has some great blogs (including my personal favorite, the Pulp Super-Fan). I’m not making anything off this referrel but while you’re there and commenting on the latest post, let ’em know that I sent ya!

Our image today is by artist Gilbert Monsanto and depicts a character named Ephemera. She’ll be appearing in a volume of the Straw-Man series that’s launching soon. Enjoy this sneak peek!

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!