A New Broken Empire Review!

broken_empireRaven’s Reviews recently took a look at the first Assistance Unlimited: The Silver Age novel, Broken Empire. Here’s what they had to say:

Assistance Unlimited, the next generation!

Lazarus Gray is now 59, still active, but not as involved in the daily affairs of Assistance Unlimited as he used to be. These are the adventures of Emily Grace, daughter of Samantha Grace, one of the original members of Lazarus Gray’s organization. Emily is getting a new partner, Benjamin Falk. Falk was on President Kennedy’s team in Dallas and blames himself for the assassination. But Gray referred to here as “the old man” sees something in Falk.

There are two interconnected stories in this volume.

Book One: The Rise of Helios

Marvin Levin and his crew of clones endeavor to reestablish the Fourth Reich. To accomplish the madman’s goal they seek supernatural objects either under lock and key in Assistance Unlimited headquarters or being actively pursued by them. But Levin has a rival… or is it more than one…

Book Two: Roll the Bones

Otto Darling, the current leader of SIGIL (Supreme International Group for Illicit Liaisons) is after the Chalice of Madness. Allying himself with Helios from Book One, he seeks knowledge that drinking from the chalice is said to bring. Or was that insanity and chaos?

I found the book exciting. The only complaint I have is that according to information at the end of this book, it is slightly out of sequence. Things that take place here are direct results of events in Lazarus Gray volume 8 which I am reliably informed will be out later this year.

That said, it does not really affect the story all that much since the focus is on the characters. The exact events of Emily’s birth and parentage being forthcoming does not stop the reader from enjoying what a kickass character she is. The character is 100% pure smashmouth pulp hero and the action never stops. There are over-the-top villains, world-shaking weapons, Nazis, the supernatural—what’s not to love? Encore! I say!

I give the book a resounding five stars plus!

Broken Empire gets reviewed!

thumbsupRay Bara has been a longtime supporter of the Reese Unlimited universe so it’s no surprise that his is the first Amazon.com review for Broken Empire. Ray gave the book 5 stars and titled his review “Loved the next wave of Assistance Unlimited” – here’s what he had to say in full:

I’ve been a big fan of Barry Reese’s Lazarus Gray series. It’s been a long time since the last novel (the publisher has inexplicably delayed publishing Reese’s already-written Gray novels), and this one is not a straight Lazarus Gray novel, but it is a great one nonetheless. Reese has skipped ahead a few years in this one, placing the story in 1964 instead of the 1930s. Assistance Unlimited, Gray’s group of heroes, has expanded and moved out of Sovereign City, Reese’s setting for his fictional universe. We see more focus on Emily Grace (the daughter of Samantha Grace) and Ezekiel Gray (Lazarus’ son). While the focus is not on Lazarus Gray, all the elements of a classic Barry Reese novel are there: lots of action, a great “pulp” feel, plenty of occult references, and great characterization. Reese also did a great job of moving Assistance Unlimited into the future; it’s great to see something “pulpy” that’s not in the 1930. I would love to see an actual new Lazarus Gray novel soon (I know they are ready to go), but Broken Empire is a wonderful way to spend the time while waiting. Go get this one!

Thanks, Ray! I’m really glad that you enjoyed the book. When I originally came up with the idea for the novel, I thought it would be fun to see Assistance Unlimited grow into a SHIELD or UNCLE type of organization – and since we’d established that some of the old crew were becoming parents, it just seemed natural for those kids to lead the future version of Assistance Unlimited.

As for the release of the other Lazarus books, I’m hopeful that you’ll see volume 8 before too long. I’ve written books 8-12 and am currently working on number 13. I sympathize with your impatience – it’s been three years since volume 7 was released! Pro Se is a big company, though, and they sometimes have to put their focus where they think it’s best. Our time will come.

Thanks again, my friend!

Two new reviews!

nightveilwatercolour3Nightveil: The Quiet Girls has received two new reviews. Let’s take a look at the first one:

Louis Davis gave the book 4 stars out of a possible five and titled his review “Not enough Femforce.” He wrote:

The story was well written and had an even flow to the plot.

Thanks, Louis! Sorry you didn’t think there was enough Femforce in the book – I wanted to keep the focus on our mystic maiden as much as possible but I did include a few cameos here and there… 

Dale also gave the book 4 stars out of 5. His review was titled “An evil that never dies!” Here was what he had to say:

May 1943 and the Blue Bulleteer once more enters the fray to save a life that can find no other to protect her. But…who are the strange, blood splattered twin girls who mysteriously appear and warn her to be quiet and then mysteriously skip off? The girl is saved… the cult put down…for now… and life goes on.

November 2016…73 years since the events of that night. Life goes on… Laura Wright is no longer the Blue Bulleteer but has found her new existence as Nightveil… owner of powerful magical abilities and responsibilities. The cult that she thought destroyed in 1943, once more raises its ugly head driven by a Baron Mort – a being of true evil. And…as it happened that night so long ago… the two blood splattered twin girls once more appear with the warning to silence. How are the two connected…and how will Nightveil stop the evil threatening the world?

Barry Reese has written a book that could be straight out of AC Comics with this story of superheroes and supervillains and undying horror. The author captures the feel of the comics and the characters that made them so popular.

I appreciate the kind words, Dale! I had so much fun writing the book and as a longtime fan of Nightveil and her companions, it was a delight to bring them to the prose world. 

Nearing the promised land

kiernan_shipkaI’m moving closer and closer to the end point for the current novel and it’s at this stage that I’m always bursting at the seams to go ahead and type, “The End.” I’m anxious to think about what’s next and the thrill of the current WIP has simply evaporated. I’ve lived with it for too long.

I was hoping that Assistance Unlimited: The Silver Age Volume One would be out by now… not sure what’s holding it up at Pro Se but I’m sure there’s a good excuse. I’m thinking I might step away from Lazarus Gray until they catch up on the backlog – soon, they’ll have volumes 8-12, plus the Lazarus/Nightveil crossover book.

I’ve begun watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and I’m really enjoying it. Same for My Hero Academia, which was introduced to me by my son. There’s so much great television out there! A lot of it really inspires me and I just wish I had the time to do all the stories that I have in my head. I know, it’s the writer’s lament…

Our post today is accompanied by an attitude-laced photo of Kiernan Shipka, the star of the Sabrina series.

The “Other” Hero of The Peregrine Chronicles

Today I figured we’d spend a few minutes talking about the ‘other’ hero of The Peregrine Chronicles. Will McKenzie is introduced in the second Peregrine story and soon becomes not only best friend to our hero Max Davies but also a frequent companion on his adventures.

Some of the highlights include:

1937 – Will arrives in Atlanta and is introduced to Max by the mysterious Benson, a man who has risen above tragedy in his own life to become a hero in the employ of the government. The youngest police chief in the nation, Will has movie-star good looks and a fierce attraction both both the ladies and to danger. As we’ll see, the combination of those two interests is a particular problem for him! In his debut appearance, Will heads off into the Atlanta underground to help foil a vampire uprising “Kingdom of Blood”, The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One).

1939 – Max and Evelyn become parents to a son that they name William, after their good friend (“Abominations,” The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One). Later in the year, Will and an ex-girlfriend named Violet Cambridge become embroiled in a horrific adventure surrounding a cursed object, an ancient cult and Aleister Crowley (The Damned Thing).

1940 – Will travels to Berlin with The Peregrine and The Domino Lady to confront the organization known as Bloodwerks (“Bloodwerks, The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One).

1941 – Kidnapped by a Nazi agent known as The Iron Maiden, Will is able to not only escape her clutches but convince her that she’s fighting on the wrong side. Kirsten Bauer and Will are soon married (“The Iron Maiden,” The Peregrine Volume One).

Later in the Forties, we learn that Will and Kirsten are struggling to have a child. As of this writing, we don’t know if they ever succeeded or not. Will is actually in most of The Peregrine stories after his introduction but the above are some of the best. If you’re a big fan of Will, I’d definitely suggest you seek out “Kingdom of Blood” and The Damned Thing, both of which feature him very prominently.

Zot!

zot6I’ve always been interested in Scott McCloud’s Zot! having seen artwork during its heyday but I was never able to actually track down an issue. Recently I bought two volumes – one collecting the first ten color issues and another reprinting the black and white issues 11-36. Having now read the entire saga, I can say that I absolutely loved it… Zot himself is as close to a modern day take on Captain Marvel as is possible. That’s not to say there’s any similarity in superficial elements like powers, origins, etc. – I mean that the sense of whimsy, the character’s innate goodness, all of those are found in large amounts.

The characters… wow. I genuinely love Zot, Max, Woody, Terry and all the rest. The villains are fantastic, too – my favorites being Dekker and 9-Jack-9. The gist of the series is that an unhappy young girl named Jenny discovers that there’s another Earth out there… one that’s set in ‘1964’ but not the 1964 of our world. Zot’s world is like retro-future version of society… think Disney’s Tomorrowland or the old Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers type of thing with jetpacks and laser pistols. Jenny falls madly in love not only with Zot but also with his world in general, which seems so much better than her own home.

zot_terryThe final few issues feature Zot trapped on our earth and the storytelling changes a bit but remains very solid. Issue 33, which features Terry’s struggle with her sexuality, is one of the very best comic stories on the topic that I’ve ever read. It’s highly recommended.

If you haven’t come across Zot!, it’s not super easy to find… but it is soooooo worth the effort. I will be going back to these stories in the future and wondering what happened to these characters. I love it.

zot_world

The Halfway Point – or, the land of Meh.

camifinalfinalThe Liberty Guard novel is meant to be around 60k in length and I’m currently closing in on 32,000 words. That means I’m over halfway home… but this is also the point in every novel where I begin to loathe the project, I’m anxious to do something else and I’m questioning why in the hell did I agree to do this in the first place.

So what does a writer do? He soldiers on. He keeps adding words. He looks for things that could inspire a bit more passion.

When I was a young guy just looking to become that mythical creature known as an “author,” I would write until I got bored or some shiny new idea entered my brain and then I’d jump to do that. I left a string of unfinished manuscripts in my wake. I see that with my students all the time – it’s that dedication, that drive, that will that they lack now and that I lacked then. You have to say, “Sorry, I can’t write you, project X… not until I finish the current work.”

Wish me luck. These are the dark days. If I can just hit 40k… then 50… then the momentum will drive me to the finish line.

Accompanying this post is an image of Camila Mendes, the actress that plays Veronica Lodge on Riverdale.

 

Gravedigger 3 gets reviewed!

Pulp Super-Fan Michael Brown is back with a review of The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume 3. He gave the book 5 stars and said the following:

Finally Barry Reese gives us the third and final volume of his latest New Pulp hero(ine): Gravedigger.

For those are not familiar with Gravedigger, she is a hero with a mission. One of a long line of sinners who have died and been given a second chance of redemption, Charity Grace has three years to take out bad guys or be condemned to hell. Set in the fictional Sovereign City (created by Pro-Se Press publisher Tommy Hancock), she has plenty to work with.

She is aided in this by a small group of agents she has pulled together, which included a past Gravedigger who mentored her. These characters are also part of the storyline as their activities with Charity are shown.

With The Adventures of Gravedigger, Vol. 3, we get the conclusion of the storyline. Charity will finish her three years as a Gravedigger, though we may (probably?) see another (or several?) Gravedigger in Barry’s universe of stories. At the end, Charity will be judged: She will either go to hell, or be allowed to move on to heaven. And like a few past Gravediggers, she may choose to stay on Earth, maybe helping a future Gravedigger. What happens? You’ll need to read this volume.

In the meantime, several things happen in this volume, which has one novel. Gravedigger goes up against a villain known as The King. The outcome of this mission leaves her associates in disarray, and The Dark Gentleman, Barry’s Phantom Detective pastiche, is killed. In the wake of this, Charity learns more about The Voice (we basically get the “origin” of the Gravediggers), the being or force that charged her as a Gravedigger, and stands in judgement.

So I’m glad this trilogy is concluded, but sadden to see the last of this character. But it will be interesting to see if we get another Gravedigger in future stories.

From the updated timeline in this volume, we should see an eighth Lazarus Gray volume, and looks like we will be getting a series of volumes focused on Gray’s group, Assistance Unlimited, but set in the “future” of the 1960s. There are also notations for a volume titled The Second Book of Babylon that looks interesting, as well as another. No idea when these volumes will appear, but I hope soon. No sight of any additional Peregrine volumes.

Thanks for the kind words, Michael! It was bittersweet ending Charity’s series but I think it turned out well. I’m glad you enjoyed the book and the overall trilogy.

New Pulp Recommendations: Brother Bones – City of Lost Souls

coverOne of my favorite New Pulp characters is Brother Bones, the Undead Avenger created by Ron Fortier. Bones patrols the shadowy streets of Cape Noire and is an excellent melding of The Shadow with Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider… he’s a fedora-wearing, skull-faced dispenser of retribution. I was lucky enough to get Ron’s blessing to feature Brother Bones in one of my Lazarus Gray volumes and it was a blast to handle the character.

City of Lost Souls is the newest volume in the series and it features five stories of varying length – the shortest is a scant five pages while the longest clocks in at 103 pages. The book is a bit different than the earlier Bones adventures in that there feels like a lot less Brother Bones than usual… a strong emphasis is placed on the supporting characters. In fact, Bones doesn’t even appear in “A Taste of Cherry Pie,” which is one of the strongest tales in the book!

The cover artwork is based upon “The Synthetic Man,” the longest story in the book, and that tale pits Doctor Satan against Brother Bones. It wasn’t what I was expecting, though, as there’s not really a whole lot of Satan vs. Bones in direct conflict… I did really enjoy the tale, though, and found the subplot revolving around a disfigured henchman and his mannequin girlfriend to be particularly strong.

As for the cover itself, I really liked it – Michael Stribling did a nice job on this.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the character, you’ll like this book. It deepens the vigilante’s world and makes it clear that the supporting characters are strong enough to carry the tales even without Bones.

Nightveil: The Quiet Girls gets a new review

nightveilwatercolour3Bobby Nash, noted writer of both comics and novels, has been gracious enough to leave a review of my Nightveil novel over on amazon. He gave the book 4 stars and titled his review “Another thrilling review of Nightveil.” Here’s the rest of his review:

Barry Reese writes good stories. I have enjoyed reading Barry’s other work and his Nightveil novel, The Quiet Girls was no exception. Barry and I share a few similar interests. We both write pulpy style action and adventure and we both have a soft spot for AC Comics character, Nightveil. That love shows through in this novel. Recommended.

Thanks, Bobby! You’re right that I really love Nightveil and I’m glad that my enthusiasm for the character came through on the pages of the book. She’s so much fun and I hope that her popularity will continue to grow.