Tag: Anthony Castrillo

The Occult Forces Project

br8smallOne of the background elements that has featured in a lot of my pulp adventure stories is the Geheimnisvolles Kraft-Projekt, also dubbed The Occult Forces Project or OFP. Founded in the late 1930s, the OFP was dedicated to utilizing super-science and magic in the name of The Reich and was a subset of The Ahnenerbe. The group had several notable successes when it came to creating larger-than-life figures who spread the Nazi ideals across the globe. Thankfully, they were defeated at every turn by heroes like The Peregrine and Lazarus Gray. A division of the OFP was known as the Department of Occult Armaments (D.O.O.M.) and was headed by Dr. Meer.

Here are some of the more notable agents of the OFP that we’ve seen thus far:

Silver Wolf – This werewolf agent of the SS named Karl Raider battled Lazarus Gray and The Darkling in 1937 during the events of “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three). He was enslaved by Princess Femi before he had a fatal encounter with The Darkling.

Geist – General Luther Strauss was a graduate of the OFP who encountered Assistance Unlimited in 1937. An accident in Tibet left him with the ability to manifest ghostly powers. Blackmailed by The Darkling, Geist worked as a double agent until his skills were no longer needed and The Darkling killed him. His story is told in “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three).

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The Black Terror

BLACK TERROR_col_smallerThe Black Terror is a character that dates all the way back to Exciting Comics # 9, published in January 1941 by Nedor Comics. His secret identity was pharmacist Bob Benton, who formulated a chemical he called “formic ethers”, which gave him various superpowers. He used these powers to fight crime with his sidekick, Tim Roland, together known as the “Terror Twins”. The character proved popular enough to survive until 1949 and his distinctive costume made for some truly memorable covers. After the Golden Age, the character eventually fell into the public domain – which led to a whole host of publishers reviving him for various projects. Over the years, he’s appeared in books published by AC, Eclipse, Wild Cat, Image, Moonstone and, of course, the Reese Unlimited imprint of Pro Se Press. I first wrote the character for Wild Cat back in 2008 as part of a book called Legends of the Golden Age and later used him in a couple of stories for The Peregrine. More recently, I’ve gone further back into his continuity to incorporate him into my Lazarus Gray stuff. Because his “later” appearances were written first there are a few discrepancies in how he’s portrayed.

In my universe, we first see The Black Terror in 1934 and learn that he’s the creation of a United States military operation overseen by General Arbogast and a scientist named Kenneth Butler. The Black Terror was, in fact, a plant-human hybrid — he had literally been grown in a tube. His memories (all the “facts” from the Golden Age comics) were implants designed to create a backstory that would make him a better soldier for the United States government — Jean Starr was there to give him a woman to fight to get back to and Tim gave him a sense of family. Neither actually existed, except in his own mind. When Bob found out the truth, he broke free and went rogue — but his programming was strong enough that he decided to continue fighting as The Black Terror. In 1936, this led him to Sovereign City in search of a man named Maxwell Schmidt. The German was running Omega Solutions. In conjunction with another product of the same government program that created The Black Terror — a man named McIness that was codenamed Titan – Schmidt hoped to transform himself into an entity dubbed Prometheus. In the end, Schmidt died for his hubris and The Black Terror was forced to kill Titan, the only other entity like him in the world. When all was said and done, The Black Terror used the technology that had created him to grow versions of Jean and Tim — he implanted similar memories into their minds and gave them life. All of this was recounted in “Making of a Hero” from Lazarus Gray Volume Two.

The next time we see Bob is in 1938, nearly two years after the previous story. The Black Terror was now well-known as a scourge of the underworld and this brought him into conflict with two superhuman criminals: The White Worm and Cassandra, the witch. During the events dubbed Gotterdammerung, The Black Terror confronted these two and learned that something greater — and more dangerous — was at play. Bob didn’t have much of a role in the affair beyond that. This was shown in the Gotterdammerung novel.

black_terror_01_smallThree months after this (still in 1938), Bob is approached by Assistance Unlimited and offered a spot with the team. With Tim’s encouragement, he accepts and begins splitting his time between an apartment he shares with his young ward and a bedroom at 6196 Robeson Avenue. Jean gets a job as secretary to the new Sovereign mayor, Mortimer Quinn. Bob becomes the team’s scientific expert and also serves as the muscle in most battles. He forms close friendships with the team though he struggles with Eun’s homosexuality. Over the course of 1938 and 1939, The Black Terror aids Assistance Unlimited in battles against Princess Femi, The Librarian, Nemesis, Mr. Death, The Torch, Heidi Von Sinn and El Demonio. These stories are told in Lazarus Gray Volumes 6 & 7.

The Black Terror’s growing penchant for violence leads to him spending more and more time with his teammate, Eidolon. The duo begin sneaking away throughout 1939 and 1940, conducting their own crime–busting exploits. This eventually leads to Lazarus Gray drawing a line in the sand and demanding that they follow his rules about violence — The Black Terror agrees but Eidolon quits the team at this point. Later in 1940, The Black Terror encounters a woman known as The Golden Amazon and the two are highly attracted to one another but when push comes to shove, Bob remains faithful to Jean. Not long after, The Black Terror joined The Fighting Yank, The Golden Amazon and Olga Mesmer in forming a Manhattan-based team known as The Heroes (late 1941). The Heroes are considered a spinoff organization of Assistance Unlimited and Bob began splitting his time between Manhattan and Sovereign. The Heroes are known to have battled Doctor Satan and Lady Satan before uniting with the rest of Assistance Unlimited to battle Phasma in early 1942. All of these tales are depicted in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volumes 8, 9 and 10.

During all of this, Tim often accompanies his mentor on adventures and the two (dubbed “The Terror Twins” by the press) develop a reputation beyond Assistance Unlimited.

The events of the next few years are still to be told. We do know that in 1943, Tim is approached by The Flame and Madame Masque – they say they need his help with some sort of emergency and he departs with them (“The Ivory Machine,” The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two). While this is happening, The Black Terror is working for the United States government overseas – he confronts a Nazi scientist that is trying to recreate the Formic Ethers (“Terrors,” The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two). Once Bob finds out that Tim has gone missing, he becomes more violent in his dealings with criminals and is briefly wanted by the authorities for his actions. He is finally reunited with Tim in 1946 and aids The Claws of the Peregrine team (along with The Flame and Madame Masque) in defeating the threat of Rainman and Dr. Gottlieb Hochmuller (“The Ivory Machine, The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two). In the aftermath, Bob and Tim are offered a place with the Peregrine’s Claws team and they agree to aid them when possible. During these 1943-onward appearances, Bob doesn’t mention Assistance Unlimited so we’re not sure if he’s still associated with them during these years.

Bob next appears in 1964 where he’s serving as chief chemist for the now global version of Assistance Unlimited – so if he had left their ranks during that 1943-1946 period, they’ve reconciled in the years since. We learn that The Black Terror adventured throughout the late Forties and most of the Fifties. It’s revealed that Tim has recently become the new Black Terror though it’s also stated that Bob occasionally still dons the costume to get in some action. No mention of Jean is given at this time.

I really like my version of Bob — he’s a solid, steadfast hero that occasionally gives in to his baser instincts. He’s sometimes troubled by his non-human origins but he’s too well-adjusted to dwell upon them.

Outstanding mysteries – Did he ever have any follow-up encounters with the agency that created him? What becomes of Jean after 1946? It should be noted that the Tim of 1946 doesn’t look much different than the Tim of 1936, implying that these plant-human hybrids may not age the same as normal humans – indeed, the Bob Benton of 1964 is described as still being quite youthful looking but it is suggested that Tim has finally moved into what appears to be adulthood. Also, The Black Terror of 1946 doesn’t seem very familiar with The Peregrine, despite the fact that Assistance Unlimited and The Peregrine were allies. Is it possible that The Black Terror we saw in the 1946 story (and possibly the 1943 one) is actually a second version, grown at a later point? Or is it simply a case of an author writing stories out of sequence and screwing up?

Only time will tell!

Our artwork today is by Anthony Castrillo and George Sellas.

The Mystery of The Peregrine’s Mask

When I wrote the very first Peregrine story (“Lucifer’s Cage”), I never knew that the mask I gave our hero would prove so challenging. Here’s how I described it for the very first time:

“On his face was a small domino mask affixed with a bird-like beak over the nose.”

Easy enough, right? But the mask has been interpreted in various ways over the years, with some folks adding wings on the sides and some dispensing with the beak entirely. I’ve enjoyed seeing the various takes on the mask and believe that artistic interpretation is fun. Besides, there’s nothing to say that The Peregrine doesn’t have several variant masks stashed in his closet.

In recent years, George Sellas has become the primary artist for my pulp universe line of heroes and he’s done wonders to define the core design of The Peregrine.

Here’s a few different looks that Max Davies has sported :

Storn Cook’s Version

 

 

 

Ver Curtiss’s Version

 

 

 

brunner_head

Frank Brunner’s version

 

 

 

Anthony Castrillo’s Version

 

 

 

Ed Mironiuk’s Version

 

 

 

sellas_head

George Sellas’s Version

 

 

 

So what’s been your favorite?

The Occult Forces Project

br8smallOne of the background elements that has featured in a lot of my pulp adventure stories is the Geheimnisvolles Kraft-Projekt, also dubbed The Occult Forces Project or OFP. Founded in the late 1930s, the OFP was dedicated to utilizing super-science and magic in the name of The Reich and was a subset of The Ahnenerbe. The group had several notable successes when it came to creating larger-than-life figures who spread the Nazi ideals across the globe. Thankfully, they were defeated at every turn by heroes like The Peregrine and Lazarus Gray. A division of the OFP was known as the Department of Occult Armaments (D.O.O.M.) and was headed by Dr. Meer.

Here are some of the more notable agents of the OFP that we’ve seen thus far:

Silver Wolf – This werewolf agent of the SS named Karl Raider battled Lazarus Gray and The Darkling in 1937 during the events of “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three). He was enslaved by Princess Femi before he had a fatal encounter with The Darkling.

Geist – General Luther Strauss was a graduate of the OFP who encountered Assistance Unlimited in 1937. An accident in Tibet left him with the ability to manifest ghostly powers. Blackmailed by The Darkling, Geist worked as a double agent until his skills were no longer needed and The Darkling killed him. His story is told in “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three).

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Current Activities

rookclaws1_catalyst_smallThis week is being spent doing some additions to the Captain Action novel — I’m pretty proud of how this book has turned out and I’m really curious to see if folks that enjoyed the first two books by Jim Beard will like this one. The majority of the plot of this book came from Jim with most of the writing being done by me — with significant contributions and oversight from  Jim. I think the meshing of our styles has produced something quite unique.

Next week I’ll return to working on Nightveil. I’m about 20% of the way through that one so if things go well I will finish it sometime in April (fingers crossed). I’m having a blast writing this character!

George Sellas is going to be working soon on a new cover… for quite awhile, I’ve thought about having some sort of sourcebook for my universe. It would contain bios, essays, the timeline, etc. Do any of you have an interest in that sort of thing?

I have to finish Lazarus Gray Volume 8 and write the first volume of Assistance Unlimited: The Silver Age in 2017 but then I got an idea for a new iteration of Gravedigger… I need more time in the day!

Thanks to everyone for supporting the release of Lazarus Gray Volume 6 — sales are brisk and I appreciate all the fans of Assistance Unlimited.

Our art today is of my character Catalyst — he’s popped up in several Peregrine stories and is a member of The Claws of the Peregrine team in the late 1940s. A predecessor of his appeared in several Lazarus Gray tales, as well. He’s actually one of my oldest surviving characters, having been created way back in 1986! This image is by Anthony Castrillo.

 

The Occult Forces Project

br8smallOne of the background elements that has featured in a lot of my pulp adventure stories is the Geheimnisvolles Kraft-Projekt, also dubbed The Occult Forces Project or OFP. Founded in the late 1930s, the OFP was dedicated to utilizing super-science and magic in the name of The Reich and was a subset of The Ahnenerbe. The group had several notable successes when it came to creating larger-than-life figures who spread the Nazi ideals across the globe. Thankfully, they were defeated at every turn by heroes like The Peregrine and Lazarus Gray. A division of the OFP was known as the Department of Occult Armaments (D.O.O.M.) and was headed by Dr. Meer.

Here are some of the more notable agents of the OFP that we’ve seen thus far:

Silver Wolf – This werewolf agent of the SS named Karl Raider battled Lazarus Gray and The Darkling in 1937 during the events of “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three). He was enslaved by Princess Femi before he had a fatal encounter with The Darkling.

Geist – General Luther Strauss was a graduate of the OFP who encountered Assistance Unlimited in 1937. An accident in Tibet left him with the ability to manifest ghostly powers. Blackmailed by The Darkling, Geist worked as a double agent until his skills were no longer needed and The Darkling killed him. His story is told in “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three).

Mr. Death – Otto Luther was a sadistic Nazi scientist before being transformed by the blood of The Mother of Pus into the skeletal figure known as Mr. Death in 1938. His madness became even greater than before and he clashed with Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger and The Peregrine during the events known as Götterdämmerung before later teaming with The Torch to combat Lazarus Gray in Transylvania. His body ended up being housed in Lazarus Gray’s super-prison, Tartarus (Götterdämmerung novel and “The Strands of Fate,” The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Six).

The Torch – August Hauff was a famous scientist whose body chemistry was altered to the point that exposure to the air caused his body to burst into flame. He had to wear a protective suit that could also project fire – which he could then control via his mind. The Torch was sent after Mr. Death when Otto Luther went rogue and the two of them embarked on a scheme to capture the Eye of Cagliostro in Transylvania. He soon became a prisoner in Tartarus (“The Strands of Fate,” The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Six). His exploits took place in 1938.

Heidi Von Sinn This young woman was a pseudo-vampire, afflicted with an enzyme disorder that forced her to consume human blood to survive. She was stronger and faster than a normal woman. Heidi Von Sinn was her codename, assigned to her by a fetishistic scientist who also designed her leather-clad outfit. She was sent to Sovereign City to retrieve a mystic artifact, which led her into a short-lived alliance with an out-of-control Golem. This was in 1938 and depicted in “Tapestry” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Six).

The Iron Maiden – Kirsten Bauer ascended through the ranks of the OFP and gained possession of a deadly suit of armor. An expert in Norse mythology, she was involved in something called Project: Ragnarok, which sought to use ancient Norse relics to boost the power of The Reich. To this end, she pursued the so-called Sword of Hel to Atlanta, Georgia in 1941. Eventually falling in love with The Peregrine’s friend Will McKenzie, The Iron Maiden defected and began using her abilities to help the Allies. Her first appearance came in “The Iron Maiden” (The Peregrine Volume One) and she was a frequent supporting character in the series after that.

The Grim Reaper – Not long after Bauer’s defection, Werner Richter arrived in America. Using the fearsome identity of The Grim Reaper, Richter battled The Peregrine for possession of three crystal skulls that contained tremendous power. These events are shown in “The Three Skulls” (The Peregrine Volume One).

The Black Zeppelin & Sun Koh – Lamar Bane was a brilliant scientist who became involved in the creation of something dubbed The Un-Earth. This project resulted in the creation of a Nazi superman known as Sun Koh. Bane battled The Peregrine, Catalyst (Nathaniel Caine) and Esper (Rachel Winters) in 1942. That adventure was depicted in “Catalyst” (The Peregrine Volume One) and The Peregrine’s encounter with Sun Koh was depicted in “The Scorched God” (The Peregrine Volume Two), also set in 1942.

The Furies – Three beautiful but deadly agents of The Axis Powers, the Furies were created by the OFP. They were feared throughout the world before they embarked on an adventure to locate Sun Koh. They were at his side when his plan to destroy Washington evaporated and all three women were killed. This adventure took place in 1942 and was shown in “The Scorched God” (The Peregrine Volume Two).

Steel Jaw – Albert Speiros was disfigured by a grenade blast but he was given new life as part of D.O.O.M., a subset of the OFP. After the large number of defeats the OFP had suffered, Steel Jaw was one of the few remaining from the original program as of 1942. Unfortunately, he had the misfortune of encountering The Warlike Manchu and during the two’s battle, Speiros was brutally murdered. This was shown in “The Resurrection Gambit” (The Peregrine Volume One).

Baron Rudolph Gustav – An ancient vampire with designs of his own for ultimate power, Gustav was loosely affiliated with the OFP before he gained possession of The Rod of Aaron and attempted to use it to take over the mind of The Peregrine’s wife — who was also Gustav’s reincarnated lover! This exciting battle, which culminated right in front of Hitler himself, took place in “Dead of Night,” from The Peregrine Volume Two. This was set in 1943.

Our art today is by Anthony Castrillo and features one of the deadly Furies.