The Immortal Princess Femi

lg03_femi_smallA good villain can make all the difference.

With The Peregrine, most of his enemies were dead and buried by the end of each adventure, though he had a few (The Warlike Manchu, for instance) who made return appearances. When I created Lazarus Gray, I knew that one of the things I wanted to do with the series was to create a series of recurring villains. I wanted him to have a vibrant rogue’s gallery that could return again and again.

But which of his enemies stands above the rest? If our hero is defined by his villains, which of those foes is his dark mirror?

Obviously, Lazarus Gray has Walther Lunt, his former mentor. Lunt was a major force in Volumes One and Two but his death in 1936 (“Die Glocke”) has yet to be undone so aside from casting a looming shadow over the series, he hasn’t been a physical force since then.

So is he really Gray’s arch-enemy? I think he still qualifies but I do think honorable mention must be given to the immortal Princess Femi.

Continue reading “The Immortal Princess Femi”

Blade Runner 2049 – and a new review!

Saw BLADE RUNNER 2049 today and loved it! I was worried that it might somehow mar the original but it was quite the opposite – I actually think this one was better than the first film! The lovely Ana De Armas stars as Joi in the film and an image of her accompanies this post.

Meanwhile, Ray Bara posted this review of LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME SEVEN on Amazon:

Another Barry Reese New Pulp Classic! 5 Stars

Barry Reese continues to churn out New Pulp gems. Lazarus Gray Volume Seven was awesome! Assistance Unlimited is back in full force, literally and figuratively. They’re all here: Lazarus, Samantha, Morgan, Eun, Abby Cross, Eidolon, and Black Terror. They’re joined by the mystic, Sheridan Masters. They fight several great villains: their recurring enemy, Femi; the Mexican criminal mastermind, El Demonio; and the King in Yellow, the lord of another terrible dimension. Lazarus Gray is his usual pillar and strength and righteousness. He defeats the bad guys and leads his team with his power and wisdom. The action in this novel is fierce, constant, and enjoyable. Assistance Unlimited saves Sovereign City with style, grace, and energy. Sheridan Masters is a nice new character. Femi is a wonderful recurring foe, though she might have finally met her match … Or has she? Reese has done it again. Another action-packed adventure that leaves me wanting more. Read this one and anything else Barry Reese writes!

Updates

black_terror_01_smallThe crossover novel is in production and will hopefully be out before the end of the year – and I know that a new eBook version of my old Ki-Gor stories will be available soon, as well.

Work is also proceeding on volume six of Lazarus Gray – I’m about to wrap up the third of our stories that will appear in that one. What can you expect? An explosive follow up to the events of the crossover novel, some brand new villains, another battle with Princess Femi, a classic hero joins the ongoing cast and some major changes to Lazarus Gray and his world.

Stay tuned, folks. The best is yet to come.

The Immortal Princess Femi

lg03_femi_smallA good villain can make all the difference.

With The Peregrine, most of his enemies were dead and buried by the end of each adventure, though he had a few (The Warlike Manchu, for instance) who made return appearances. When I created Lazarus Gray, I knew that one of the things I wanted to do with the series was to create a series of recurring villains. I wanted him to have a vibrant rogue’s gallery that could return again and again.

But which of his enemies stands above the rest? If our hero is defined by his villains, which of those foes is his dark mirror?

Obviously, Lazarus Gray has Walther Lunt, his former mentor. Lunt was a major force in Volumes One and Two but his death in 1936 (“Die Glocke”) has yet to be undone so aside from casting a looming shadow over the series, he hasn’t been a physical force since then.

So is he really Gray’s arch-enemy? I think he still qualifies but I do think honorable mention must be given to the immortal Princess Femi.

A beautiful Egyptian princess, Femi was involved with a cult known as The Undying. This group repudiated the Gods, believing that mankind was itself the highest form of life – they frequently shouted “God Is Dead!” as a way of displaying their blasphemous beliefs. In retribution, the priests of Egypt captured Femi and mummified her, using special magicks to keep her alive, in an eternal sleep.

In early 1935, she managed to make a psychic connection with a man who had bought her corpse, intending to display it in his house. The man used a powerful gem to revive Femi, who was reunited with the remains of The Undying. Femi was now able to control the undead but her power came with a price — she now had to feed on human flesh to remain young.The exact process that Femi uses to create her armies of mummified warriors is mystical in nature and bestows upon her followers great strength and durability. The tale of her resurrection and subsequent battle with Assistance Unlimited took place in “The Corpse Screams At Midnight!”

Her next appearance spanned late 1935 and early ’36, as Walther Lunt revived her to accompany him on his search for the Die Glocke.

Later in 1936, Femi was resurrected yet again by Constance Majestros, who formed Murder Unlimited in direct opposition to Assistance Unlimited. Femi and Constance were joined by Abraham Klee, Stanley Davis and Doc Pemberley. Femi and Pemberley became lovers at this point though the romance was a disturbing one for both parties. This time, Abigail Winters (a member of Assistance Unlimited) defeated Femi in single combat. She was placed in a locked room at 6196 Robeson Avenue, becoming a prisoner of Lazarus Gray. This adventure was detailed in “Murder Unlimited.”

At some unknown point, her body was stolen by the madman known as Dr. York, who attempted to revive her in Atlanta so that she might aid him against The Peregrine. This revival literally lasted only a few moments before she was put down once more and returned to the care of Assistance Unlimited (“The Peregrine Animated Script,” The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Three).

Unfortunately, she was freed a short time later (in the story “Eidolon”) and became involved in an attempt to revive an ancient devil. Working alongside a Nazi werewolf named Silverwolf, Femi ended up facing the mysterious vigilante known as Darkling. Darkling managed to destroy her once more.

Abigail vs. Femi, from Lazarus Gray Volume Three
Abigail vs. Femi, from Lazarus Gray Volume Three

In the forthcoming Volume Five, we will see that her remains are kept in an urn at Robeson Avenue (“The Felonious Financier”) in 1937 but she gets revived just in time for a group of Egyptians who serve the ancient gods to come calling in hopes of destroying her once and for all. Femi gains a handmaiden named Madison Montgomery, a girlfriend of Morgan Watt’s who becomes enamored of Femi’s power. The duo found themselves briefly allied with The Three Sisters (Selene, Phoebe & Fiona), three immortal witches that sought to control Sovereign City. At the end of this adventure, Femi and Madison escape the clutches of Assistance Unlimited. Madison is now empowered by a small fraction of the same energy that preserves Femi, making them a deadly pair (“Immortals”).

For her roleplaying game stats, you can look here.

Our art today is courtesy of George Sellas.

A Lengthy Review of Lazarus Gray Volume One

The Adventures of Lazarus GrayMark from Texas posted the following review on Goodreads. Here’s what he had to say about the first book in the Lazarus Gray series:

The Adventures of Lazarus Gray
Author: Barry Reese
Publisher: Pro Se Press
Published In: Batesville, AR, USA
Date: 2011
Pgs: 252

REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Summary:
Welcome to Sovereign City. A man awakens with no memory of who he is or where he’s from. A medallion hangs from his neck with the name Lazarus Gray on it. He along with his cohorts in Assistance Unlimited help people in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The dark is rising. Mystic evil is coming. The man known as Lazarus Gray stands in the breach.

Genre:
Adventure
Crime fiction
Fantasy
Fiction
Horror
Pulp
Science fiction
Short stories
Thrillers
Urban fantasy

Why this book:
It’s Barry telling a story. I love when Barry tells stories.

The Girl with the Phantom Eyes:
Favorite Character:
The Aquaas. Love the concept of these little Cthulian horrors.

Least Favorite Character:
Walther Lunt. Mainly because

Character I Most Identified With:
Lazarus has a bit of the Mary Sue/deus ex machina about him. He’s everything that he needs to be. But he is the character that the reader is most likely to glom onto. I’m sure as his “secret” origin is revealed those shortcomings that I see in him will make sense. In this way, he is Sherlock Holmes, Hugo Danning, Doc Savage, Batman and Superman. And that’s not all bad.

The Feel:
Mr. Reese threw a “dark and stormy night” opening into this opening chapter of the Lazarus Gray chronicles, without saying “it was a dark and stormy night.” I tip my hat. Very well done.

Favorite Scene:
I could totally see this as a black and white, 20s/30s/40s era, crime noir movie with a supernatural tilt. Can just imagine the lightning in one of the Aquaas scenes. All black and shadow and a framed light hits the actress in the eyes as she stares at the next victim giving us the low budget special effect of a girl with glowing eyes.

Or a serial, a Lazarus Gray serial, this story could easily have been broken into six parts with a cliffhanger ending for each one. Pure gold.

Pacing:
The pace of the first act was slow, lots of exposition, lots of introduction, lots of world building, expected. The action that does happen is offscreen explained and exposited on afterwards. But when the kicker comes at the nadir of the first act, it is delicious.

Hmm Moments:
Love the lion staff. Totally glomming that for the next time I play D&D…whenever that may be.

Casting call:
I could totally see George Clooney as Lazarus Gray. Alec Baldwin wouldn’t be bad either, but he may have aged out of the role. I realize that they are within 5 years of one another. George just seems younger and more…robust. Course, I could see classic Hollywood actors in a lot of these roles as well.

Angus Scrimm as Walther Lunt. I know he’s in his 80s. But I love Angus and he could absolutely project the menace necessary for the role.

The Devil’s Bible:
Favorite Character:
Love the succubus/blood demon.

The Feel:
There’s a great 20s/30s detective movie feel with an Indiana Jones flair in some of this. Great stuff.

Favorite Scene:
Eun getting the drop on the ninja.

Hmm Moments:
Ninjas.

Casting call:
Devon Aoki as Maya Shimada

The Corpse Screams at Midnight:
The Feel:
This one feels more Hammer film than hardboiled detective drama.

Favorite Scene:
The Mummy awakening in the flashback to the previous owner and the horror that followed on afterward.

The mummy fight at the museum.

Pacing:
Page turner.

Hmm Moments:
Love the Cult of the Mummy stuff.

The Burning Skull:
Favorite Character:
Mr. Skull sounds like an awesome villain. His origin is well done.

Sovereign City is every bit as much a character here as the Hawaiian Isles are in Hawaii 5-0 or as Basin City is for Frank Miller. She’s every city…at least the dark and grimy parts of every city.

Favorite Scene:
When Lunt thinking that he is going to unbalance Gray or pull him offsides or back to the dark side by laying out his cards and telling him what he knows of his past and Gray basically says, “I see”, and hangs up on him.

Hmm Moments:
“I think I may have made a terrible mistake.” – Walther Lunt

This story gives us the origin of Lazarus Gray and Mr. Skull. Greatness.

The Axeman of Sovereign City:
Favorite Character:
Sovereign City is a rich panoply of diverse characters; mob bosses, houngans, Nazis, etc. I can see the city in my mind’s eye; a dirty, dingy mix of the worst city Bogie’s characters ever crossed a rainy street in, with some Gotham, both New York and Batman’s, and some Sin City thrown in.

Monique and Dinkins, those two are a helluva piece of work.

Least Favorite Character:
Morgan and Samantha’s dancing around one another is a distraction. It robs both characters and the story flow.

Pacing:
The pace takes a bip every time we slip into a longing looks Morgan or Samantha moment.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:
Despite his promises to include them more, Lazarus continues to hold his team at arm’s length. Hopefully, the “go it alone” attitude that crops up in this story will give us a him on the end of a rescue from the other members of Assistance Unlimited.

Hmm Moments:
Mr. Dinkins unique heart condition is a great plot point.

Casting call:
Geoffrey Holder as Dinkins.

The God of Hate
Favorite Character:
Morgan Watts. The second he pulled the trigger on the thing in the box, great scene.

The Feel:
This is the best one of the set of shorts included here.

Favorite Scene:
When The Claw rises from the bed with the ladies of the evening scattered about him, secure in the knowledge that he has ruined them for the rest of their lives. It’s so horrible picturing that in your mind. For an alien monster, The Claw has a lot of carnal, abusive desires.

Morgan’s Paris adventure.

The fight with The Claw in the old abandoned church.

Hmm Moments:
The Claw’s invasion of the Assistance Unlimited HQ to deliver his challenge/warning to Eun.

Casting call:
What about Tom Hanks as Lazarus? I could see it being part his performance in Road to Perdition and part his performance in The Da Vinci Code.

Every time Eun appears on the page, it makes me wish that Bruce Lee was alive today.

Doug Jones as The Claw.

John Noble as Walther Lunt.

Josh Brolin as Morgan Watts.

Darkness, Spreading Its Wings of Black

The Feel:
Would have liked a more tender moment between Samantha Grace and Morgan Watts as he rescues her from the chains.

Favorite Scene:
The showdown in the basement

Pacing:
Probably the best paced of the stories in this volume.

Hmm Moments:
Love the idea of a Peregrine-Lazarus Gray team up.

Last Page Sound:
Well…that was nice. Wish Lazarus would have gotten the last word instead of the Peregrine, but still nice. More of a denouement with the Assistance Unlimited folks would have been appreciated.

Author Assessment:
I love Barry Reese’s work.

A hero is defined by his villains. Barry gives Lazarus Gray some great ones here.

Editorial Assessment:
A physical spell check in Darkness, Spreading Its Wings of Black would have been good, ie: made scientist.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
glad I read it

Disposition of Book:
e-Book

Would recommend to:
friends, genre fans

Thanks for the in-depth review and analysis, Mark! Much appreciated.

The Immortal Princess Femi

lg03_femi_smallA good villain can make all the difference.

With The Rook, most of his enemies were dead and buried by the end of each adventure, though he had a few (The Warlike Manchu, for instance) who made return appearances. When I created Lazarus Gray, I knew that one of the things I wanted to do with the series was to create a series of recurring villains. I wanted him to have a vibrant rogue’s gallery that could return again and again.

But which of his enemies stands above the rest? If our hero is defined by his villains, which of those foes is his dark mirror?

Obviously, Lazarus Gray has Walther Lunt, his former mentor. Lunt was a major force in Volumes One and Two but his death in 1936 (“Die Glocke”) has yet to be undone so aside from casting a looming shadow over the series, he hasn’t been a physical force since then.

So is he really Gray’s arch-enemy? I think he still qualifies but I do think honorable mention must be given to the immortal Princess Femi.

A beautiful Egyptian princess, Femi was involved with a cult known as The Undying. This group repudiated the Gods, believing that mankind was itself the highest form of life – they frequently shouted “God Is Dead!” as a way of displaying their blasphemous beliefs. In retribution, the priests of Egypt captured Femi and mummified her, using special magicks to keep her alive, in an eternal sleep.

In early 1935, she managed to make a psychic connection with a man who had bought her corpse, intending to display it in his house. The man used a powerful gem to revive Femi, who was reunited with the remains of The Undying. Femi was now able to control the undead but her power came with a price — she now had to feed on human flesh to remain young.The exact process that Femi uses to create her armies of mummified warriors is mystical in nature and bestows upon her followers great strength and durability. The tale of her resurrection and subsequent battle with Assistance Unlimited took place in “The Corpse Screams At Midnight!”

Her next appearance spanned late 1935 and early ’36, as Walther Lunt revived her to accompany him on his search for the Die Glocke.

Later in 1936, Femi was resurrected yet again by Constance Majestros, who formed Murder Unlimited in direct opposition to Assistance Unlimited. Femi and Constance were joined by Abraham Klee, Stanley Davis and Doc Pemberley. Femi and Pemberley became lovers at this point though the romance was a disturbing one for both parties. This time, Abigail Winters (a member of Assistance Unlimited) defeated Femi in single combat. She was placed in a locked room at 6196 Robeson Avenue, becoming a prisoner of Lazarus Gray. This adventure was detailed in “Murder Unlimited.”

At some unknown point, her body was stolen by the madman known as Dr. York, who attempted to revive her in Atlanta so that she might aid him against The Rook. This revival literally lasted only a few moments before she was put down once more and returned to the care of Assistance Unlimited (“The Rook Animated Script,” Tales of The Rook Volume Two).

Unfortunately, she was freed a short time later (in the story “Eidolon”) and became involved in an attempt to revive an ancient devil. Working alongside a Nazi werewolf named Silverwolf, Femi ended up facing the mysterious vigilante known as Darkling. Darkling managed to destroy her once more.

Abigail vs. Femi, from Lazarus Gray Volume Three
Abigail vs. Femi, from Lazarus Gray Volume Three

In the forthcoming Volume Five, we will see that her remains are kept in an urn at Robeson Avenue (“The Felonious Financier”) in 1937 but she gets revived just in time for a group of Egyptians who serve the ancient gods to come calling in hopes of destroying her once and for all. Femi gains a handmaiden named Madison Montgomery, a girlfriend of Morgan Watt’s who becomes enamored of Femi’s power. The duo found themselves briefly allied with The Three Sisters (Selene, Phoebe & Fiona), three immortal witches that sought to control Sovereign City. At the end of this adventure, Femi and Madison escape the clutches of Assistance Unlimited. Madison is now empowered by a small fraction of the same energy that preserves Femi, making them a deadly pair (“Immortals”).

For her roleplaying game stats, you can look here.

Our art today is courtesy of George Sellas.

The Immortal Princess Femi

lg03_femi_smallA good villain can make all the difference.

With The Rook, most of his enemies were dead and buried by the end of each adventure, though he had a few (The Warlike Manchu, for instance) who made return appearances. When I created Lazarus Gray, I knew that one of the things I wanted to do with the series was to create a series of recurring villains. I wanted him to have a vibrant rogue’s gallery that could return again and again.

But which of his enemies stands above the rest? If our hero is defined by his villains, which of those foes is his dark mirror?

Obviously, Lazarus Gray has Walther Lunt, his former mentor. Lunt was a major force in Volumes One and Two but his death in 1936 (“Die Glocke”) has yet to be undone so aside from casting a looming shadow over the series, he hasn’t been a physical force since then.

So is he really Gray’s arch-enemy? I think he still qualifies but I do think honorable mention must be given to the immortal Princess Femi.

A beautiful Egyptian princess, Femi was involved with a cult known as The Undying. This group repudiated the Gods, believing that mankind was itself the highest form of life – they frequently shouted “God Is Dead!” as a way of displaying their blasphemous beliefs. In retribution, the priests of Egypt captured Femi and mummified her, using special magicks to keep her alive, in an eternal sleep.

In early 1935, she managed to make a psychic connection with a man who had bought her corpse, intending to display it in his house. The man used a powerful gem to revive Femi, who was reunited with the remains of The Undying. Femi was now able to control the undead but her power came with a price — she now had to feed on human flesh to remain young.The exact process that Femi uses to create her armies of mummified warriors is mystical in nature and bestows upon her followers great strength and durability. The tale of her resurrection and subsequent battle with Assistance Unlimited took place in “The Corpse Screams At Midnight!”

Her next appearance spanned late 1935 and early ’36, as Walther Lunt revived her to accompany him on his search for the Die Glocke.

Later in 1936, Femi was resurrected yet again by Constance Majestros, who formed Murder Unlimited in direct opposition to Assistance Unlimited. Femi and Constance were joined by Abraham Klee, Stanley Davis and Doc Pemberley. Femi and Pemberley became lovers at this point though the romance was a disturbing one for both parties. This time, Abigail Winters (a member of Assistance Unlimited) defeated Femi in single combat. She was placed in a locked room at 6196 Robeson Avenue, becoming a prisoner of Lazarus Gray. This adventure was detailed in “Murder Unlimited.”

At some unknown point, her body was stolen by the madman known as Dr. York, who attempted to revive her in Atlanta so that she might aid him against The Rook. This revival literally lasted only a few moments before she was put down once more and returned to the care of Assistance Unlimited (“The Rook Animated Script,” Tales of The Rook Volume Two).

Unfortunately, she was freed a short time later (in the story “Eidolon”) and became involved in an attempt to revive an ancient devil. Working alongside a Nazi werewolf named Silverwolf, Femi ended up facing the mysterious vigilante known as Darkling. Darkling managed to destroy her once more.

Abigail vs. Femi, from Lazarus Gray Volume Three
Abigail vs. Femi, from Lazarus Gray Volume Three

In the forthcoming Volume Five, we will see that her remains are kept in an urn at Robeson Avenue (“The Felonious Financier”) in 1937 but she gets revived just in time for a group of Egyptians who serve the ancient gods to come calling in hopes of destroying her once and for all. Femi gains a handmaiden named Madison Montgomery, a girlfriend of Morgan Watt’s who becomes enamored of Femi’s power. The duo found themselves briefly allied with The Three Sisters (Selene, Phoebe & Fiona), three immortal witches that sought to control Sovereign City. At the end of this adventure, Femi and Madison escape the clutches of Assistance Unlimited. Madison is now empowered by a small fraction of the same energy that preserves Femi, making them a deadly pair (“Immortals”).

For her roleplaying game stats, you can look here.

Our art today is courtesy of George Sellas.