Saturday, October 17, 2009

SENTINELS - The Shiva Advent

SENTINELS – The Shiva Advent
By Van Allen Plexico
White Rocket Books
238 pages

Van Allen Plexico seems determined to create a new sub-genre of adventure fiction I like to call tekno-pulp. The link between the roots of American pulps and comics books are so intertwined, it would take a Solomon to untangle them. At the height of their popularity in the late 20s and early 30s, hero pulps were the main course for imagination starved kids in this country. They feasted on tales the Shadow, Doc Savage and the Spider with unabashed relish, and then they grew up to create their own heroes; Sueprman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, etc.etc. And thus as the pulps died out, at the end of World War II, the superhero comics easily stepped in and took their place in the hearts and minds of the new post-war generations.

Over the subsequent decades, many writers have made cursory attempts to bring the excitement and wonder of super-hero sagas into the prose field. Few have had limited success. Which is why this series by an avowed comic-book lover, is finally breaching that gap between the two formats and doing it brilliantly. Plexico, inspired completely by the Marvel and DC books he read as a child in the 70s, has invented his own super-hero team, the Sentinels, and they are clearly his homage to those comics. But with a truly wonderful difference in his understanding of prose and the potential it offers to dig deeper into the psyches of his spandex-wearing characters. His gift of storytelling is razor sharp and he captures the reader’s interest from the first chapter to the last, never allowing the action to flag once.

SENTINELS – The Shiva Advent is Plexico’s fourth book in this series, taking up where he left off with his first Warlord Trilogy. Resting on their laurels from having the saved the world in that first series of books, the Sentinels are attacked by an alien robot of unbelievable power and their leader, the mighty Ultraa, is kidnapped. Now it’s up to super scientist, Esro Brachis, the armor clad champion, to lead the team and not only rescue Ultraa, but learn the secret of their new foe. At the same time, Plexico begins to delve into Ultraa’s mysterious past as the layers of his amnesia slowly begin to peel away to reveal an amazing history filled with alien visitors to earth during the time of the American Revolution.

Using the classic pulp styling of weaving in and out of several plots, Plexico delivers a gripping adventure that is so much fun, I hated to see it come to end. But be forewarned, this is only the first of a trilogy and the climax is a mind-blowing cliff-hangar of gargantuan proportion, leaving the fate of the world in jeopardy. If you are one of those readers who enjoyed comics growing up and have since put them away because of some ill conceived idea that they are no longer relevant, here’s your answer in recapturing that old magic, but in a brand new, clearly sophisticated adult approach. This is pure tekno-pulp heaven!


Larry Davis said...

Ron, your review was excellent, remarkable, and captures the essence of these books. I was not a comics or Avengers reader, and came to these books entirely without any background at all, the complete opposite of you. In spite of my own cultural ignorance, I found these books - the characterization, the story line, the action - riveting. And hard to put down when I should have. Thank your for an educated analysis that says so well what I have wanted to and tried to say about the Sentinels.

Lsrry Davis

Ron Fortier said...

Your welcome, Larry. Your own review was well written and I personally enjoyed. Not surprised that Van's work has appeal to even non-comic people like surprised. Thanks for stopping by.

-Bri said...

Excellent review, Ron, and I couldn't agree more. More people should be enjoying Plexico's writing, and these reviews are a great way to get the word out to them.

BobbyNash said...

As usual, Van's writing continues to amaze and entertain.