The Reviews Keep Coming!

José Rivera posted a review of The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Six on Amazon. He gave it five stars and said the following:

Reading a new volume of Lazarus Gray is like being wrapped in a blanket of comfort and familiarity. You’d think after so many volumes and the loss of Lazarus after the crossover novel that things would begin to wind down. NOPE! Even with their leader away, the team carries on. In this volume we get a few stories, one of which sees the return of Mr. Death. Our old friends Bob Benton, Abby Cross and Eidolon return, along with appearances from The Heap and Nakam, whose origin I really enjoyed.

I can’t get enough of the tales of Sovereign City. And now that 1938 is coming to a close, I can’t wait to see what 1939 has in store for Lazarus, Kelly and the entire team over at Assistance Unlimited!

Thanks, José! I feel the same way about Lazarus and his friends – when I return to Sovereign City, it always feels like coming home. This strange family unit have become pretty special to me and I’m glad that so many people have expressed similar sentiments.

1939 will be another interesting year for Assistance Unlimited so keep watch!

Another 5-Star Review!

Ray Bara gave the newest Lazarus Gray book five stars in a review that he posted on Amazon. Let’s see what he had to say, shall we?

Barry Reese has done it yet again! Lazarus Gray Volume Six is just another jewel in the crown of a New Pulp prince! The book starts off with a fast-paced adventure without Lazarus Gray, who died in the previous novel, Gotterdammerung. Despite Gray’s absence, Assistance Unlimited continues its founder’s vision of righting wrongs and solving crime in and around Sovereign City. The group has picked up a few new members, including Gray’s “widow” Kelly and the Black Terror, who has appeared in other Reese stories.

In the later stories, all of which are wonderfully written and action-packed, we see Assistance Unlimited face numerous enemies, both old and new. We see the return of Princess Femi and Mr. Death, and the emergence of new foes, including Nemesis and the Librarian. These foes are, of course, handled nimbly by Assistance Unlimited, some to fight another day, others probably for the last time.

Eventually, Lazarus returns from the dead. He’s not quite the same, but is still a tower of strength and justice. Without spoiling his methods, I enjoyed the way Reese raised him from the dead and the character he chose to bring Gray back.

Barry Reese has penned another New Pulp classic. If you haven’t read his work yet, I wonder why not? If you have read everything he has written but Volume Six, go read it, now! He has already written Volume Seven; I hope to see it soon!
Thanks, Ray! I really appreciate that you took the time to review the book – and I think you’ll see Volume 7 later this year!

The Pulp Superfan Reviews Lazarus Gray!

Pulp Superfan Michael Brown posted the following review of the sixth volume of Lazarus Gray:

‘The Adventures of Lazarus Gray, Vol. 6’Lazarus Gray is a New Pulp character from writer Barry Reese (The Peregrine, Gravedigger, and other works) with several volumes out so far. The Adventures of Lazarus Gray, Vol. 6 actually follows the events of Gotterdamerung, which was a team-up of Reese’s various pulp heroes (and a few others), to stop the end of the world.

That story ended with the death of Gray.

But clearly, Reese had other plans. And, so, yes, this volume has his return. And it has Gray and his friends of Assistance Unlimited — with some additional help — going after several foes, both new and returning.

For those who have yet to read Gray (and why haven’t you after six volumes?), he is sort of inspired by the classic pulp hero The Avenger. Gray has setup a group similar to The Avenger’s called Assistance Unlimited. He is located in a fictional town called Sovereign City (created by Pro Se Press publisher Tommy Hancock), and 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.

As with past volumes, this one has four interlocking stories. Best to think of them as a novel in four parts, really. So instead of looking at each story separately, let’s instead look at the characters.

First off, Lazarus Gray. As noted, he died in Gotterdamerung, the previous crossover novel. And yes, he comes back. Not easily, but he does. And back in Vol. 5 he got married. In this volume his wife is pregnant. Looks like we’ll learn more about the kid when he’s born in the next volume or so.

A couple of former members of Assistance Unlimited return: Eidolon and Abby. They help in one story, and then Abby kind of returns to AU, but this time being in charge of AU’s special prison: Tartarus. It remains to be seen if Abby more fully joins AU.

And AU gains a new member: The Black Terror. Reese brought this classic Nedor comic character into his timeline with Gotterdamerung, and later had him join Peregrine’s group, The Claws of the Peregrine. So does this mean he will at some point leave AU?

We also met a new hero: Nakam, who is a German fighting against the Nazis inside Nazi Germany. The name is Hebrew for “Revenge.” He helps AU in one story. Will he return in the timeline?

As for the villains, we have several returning and some new ones. Mr. Death returns from the events of Gotterdamerung, now joined by another Nazi occult villain: The Flame. Lazarus and team take them on in one story. Princess Fermi and her new handmaiden return, and Fermi will continue to plague the group. A new and interesting villain is introduced: Nemesis, who we learn is in many ways Gray’s opposite. I hope we see more of this guy. And the Warlike Manchu and his Ten Finger gang tries to make inroads into Sovereign City, only to have Gray deal with them. The Peregrine will take care of him soon.

It’s clear from the end that further volumes are planned, as Vol. 7 is laid out in the timeline. I am still looking forward to the third (and final) Gravedigger volume, which I hope will be next. And would like to see a Dark Gentleman volume (and not just short stories on Kindle). I see a copy of volumes listed in the timeline. I’m still wondering when we will see another Peregrine volume, but I am sure Reese is busy putting out the others.

Thanks, Michael! Glad you liked Nemesis – I found him really interesting, too, so you can be sure he’ll return eventually. 

As for a new Peregrine volume, it may happen eventually but there’s no plans for one in the near future.

Another Crossover Review

Amazon user ChickJ posted a 4-star review of Gotterdammerung, the crossover novel that brought nearly all my heroes into one big adventure. 

Here’s the review:

An action packed jumble of old time pulp stars and a few new ones. Barry Reese writes simple short tales. Nothing is drawn out. But the action flows and are fun to read. It is like eating chips, you can’t stop at one. So addicting to true pulp lovers. Excuse me, I just downloaded Lazaus Gray 6 and the Gravedigger #1.

Thank you! Yeah, I’m not trying to write The Great American Novel – I’m trying to entertain and provide you with a few hours of escapism. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 

Please let us know what you think of the other books!

“Custer’s Ghost”: A New Pulp Review

Ron Fortier’s Captain Hazzard series is one of New Pulp’s best and it does that rarest of feats – it gets better as it goes along. This is the fifth entry and it’s by far the best.

This one features an old west theme as Custer’s ghost is apparently on the loose and a group of Skinwalkers has joined its ghostly cause. Along for the ride is Jim Anthony, the classic pulp hero dubbed ‘The Super Detective.” Fortier does a great job of balancing Hazzard and Anthony, giving each moments to shine. Hazzard gets a fantastic action sequence at one point wearing a Rocketeer-style jet pack, battling fighter planes. Anthony’s best sequence features him going toe-to-toe with the leader of the Skinwalkers.

There’s plenty of romance, too, as we’re introduced to the lovely Dancing Moon and see the return of Azlea O’Hara, who continues pining after Hazzard in humorous fashion.

The cover by Pat Carbajal is fantastic and Rob Davis is back again to depict the heroes in a series of interior pieces.

Highly recommended!

Pulp Fiction Reviews Looks at “Die Glocke”

Ron Fortier, legendary New Pulp author, has posted a review of the second Lazarus Gray volume at his blog. Here’s what he had to say:

This is the second collection of stories featuring the reborn hero, Lazarus Gray. A one time member of the all powerful secret cabal known as the Illuminati, Gray arrived in Sovereign City washing up on the morning tide with no memory of his past. Volume One told of his struggles to uncover that mystery at the same time introduced us to the amazing trio that would become his partners in Assistance Unlimited; lethal lovely Samantha Grace, former con-artist Morgan Watts and Korean martial artist Eun Jiwon.

In this rip-roaring second outing, Gray and company find themselves traveling the globe to stop would be villains from obtaining all manners of occult power. From the barren wastelands of Mongolia to the green fields of England and the hidden jungles of South America. No place is too remote for this daring quartet. Along the way they encounter old foes from Walther Lunt, the twisted German scientist, to the ancient Princess Femi. Then they are pitted against new creatures of evil such as the monstrous Jack-in-Irons, a towering behemoth with a boars head and unleashed on earth via a powerful arcane construct known as the Bell; i.e. Die Glocke from the title. There’s also the murderous Titan, a man of superhuman strength.

Our love of this series comes from Reese’s own unabashed fun in whipping up the most far fetched, outlandish plots, creating charismatic heroes and villains and then delivering rock solid action sequences that have us jumping up and down with joy. Reese gets pulp, he breathes it into every single page he writes. Consider his seductive femme fatales such the previously mentioned Egyptian Mummy Princes Femi and then there’s the so seductive Japanese Miya Shimada, who’s only weakness is her love for Gray. Which in turns leads to one of the most unique plot endings ever envisioned in a pulp tale.

As if that wasn’t enough, this adventure packed book introduces us to two new members of the team; German officer Jakob Sporrenberg and beautiful witch Abigail Cross. Then, in the very last tale, Gray and his allies meet the Golden Age comic hero the Black Terror in one of the strangest crossovers ever imagined.

Honestly, there aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary to properly applaud this book. Note, it was first published in 2012 and we’re playing catch up here. There are several more volumes awaiting us and for that this reviewer is so damn happy.
Thanks for those kind words, Ron! For those who don’t know, Ron’s Hounds of Hell novel is what first gave me the inspiration to create my own foray into New Pulp. While I’d grown up as a fan of the classic heroes, it wasn’t until I saw Ron’s work that I realized there was an audience (besides me) that wanted to see new pulp-inspired tales!

So, thanks again, Ron!

The Secret Origin of The Claws of The Peregrine

claws_front_smallAfter 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.

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?