Wednesday, June 16, 2021

MEN'S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY # 2

 

MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY

Vol 1 No 2

Edited by Robert Deis & Bill Cunningham

Pulp 2.0

153 pgs

So here’s our question. When is the second issue of a magazine not only equal in quality to the first issue, but even better? Well, for the answer to that you’ll have to query editors Robert Deis and Bill Cunningham. You see, that is exactly what these two imaginatively creative fellows have gone and done with the second issue of their “Men’s Adventure Quarterly.”

Once again they have jampacked seven stories, three introductions, a MAM’s cover gallery and a pictorial look at the sexiest femme spy gals ever to grace the silver screen neatly between two covers. Oh, and as westerns were theme of issue # 1, this one aims the spotlight at the Cold War spy tales inspired by the literary and cinema exploits of the one and only OO7, James Bond. There’s even an article detailing the adventures of the Scotland Yard detective rumored to have been the “real life” British super spy. Honestly, this package is so much fun. The stories are all classic examples of the best such yarns featured in the now defunct Men’s Adventure Magazines of the 50s to 70s that spilled over drugstore shelf racks across the country.

Not only has Deis cherry picked the finest art illustrations to grace this volume and given us wonderful biographical insights into the talented artists who produced them, but Design Maestro Cunningham skillfully lays out every single page to evoke the maximum pleasure and impact, i.e. each is a work of design delight.

We read through the entire package in just two days and the second we finished we found ourselves hungry for more. Bravo gentlemen, you’re on a streak to the benefit of all pulp fans, old and new. Thank you so very, very much.

 

Friday, June 11, 2021

THE FATEFUL EIGHT

 

THE FATEFUL EIGHT

By Mark Allen Vann

Xepico Press

293 pgs

Last year writer Mark Allen Vann impressed us with the debut of his first collection of new pulp tales, “Eight Against the Darkness.” In it, Vann introduced eight distinct heroes all molded on established pulp genres and each was a gem. Enough so that we were only too happy to nominated that book for the Pulp Factory Awards. That it didn’t win doesn’t seem to have fazed this talented scribe as now we have a sequel and once more eight brand new stories featuring his wonderful characters.

“Written in Stone,” features the stone-skinned private eye Thomas Greyscale as he hunts a frustrated pulp writer who is using a magic book to murder the editors who rejected his fiction. Maybe a bit of wish-fulfillment for some colleagues here.

“The Toll of the Demon Bell” has Puritan adventure Alistair Synne come upon a town haunted by a supernatural horror only he and his magic flintlocks can battle. This is a great character, though we found the ending a wee bit rushed.

“The Dagger’s Curse” has Corr, the Barbarian Prince, continuing his assignment for his mother, the Witch Queen Azura to retrieve a magical dagger little realizing its properties to change men into monsters.

“Whence Darkness Comes,” features a mixed up Mary Minerva out of the asylum and living as a stage magician. Whereas as a mentalist, she is capable of great power against the forces of darkness an somehow able to discern between dimensions; including viewing other heroes found in this collection. Now that’s a neat little twist.

“Sky Shadows” sees the return of Redd Havik, captain of the air-pirate ship as she hunts down her uncle, the cruel One-Eyed Jack employed by the empire to hunt down Redd and the crew of the Scarlett Mistress. One of our favorites from volume one and pleasure to see her in action again.

“Home In Time For Dinner.” Nathan Porter, aka the Revenant not only has to battle Big Tony’s mob of goons, but a shambling zombie killer that is targeting someone he loves. Fast paces, well delivered tale.

“Eye of the Tigermen,” finds Red Bannon and his pal Tolliver off to India to find a stolen gem supposedly containing unimaginable power. Move over Doc Savage, this one is major fun.

“Nightmares of Steam and Steel.” The longest tale in the book, it stars the King’s Agent Blake Spector as he teams up with Wizard Karkas Blackwell and inventor Dr. Archie Livingston to thwart a monstrous attack on the empire.

Finally Vann wraps it all up with the two page finale, “A Simple Game” in which he underlines the fact that all these different stories and heroes are actually a part of grant mosaic he’s brilliantly created. Overall, this second tome in his “Eight” saga is superior to the first and now happily indicated a third volume is in the works. All we can say is bring it on. Van writes as if he were actually eight writers in one. Amazing!

Thursday, June 03, 2021

MOONSTONE DOUBLE SHOT

Edited by Joe Gentile

Moonstone Books

(http://moonstonebooks.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=1240)

94 pgs

Guest Reviewer – Michael Housel

Moonstone Books presents a new Double Shot release headlining those dynamic crime-figthers, the Green Hornet, Kato, I.V. Frost and Jean Moray in two sensational stories.

The Hornet novella springs from Mel Odom, and the Frost short story from Ron Fortier. The tales complement each other well, making this Moonstone submission a literary winner on both counts, abetted by a crackerjack cover from Malcolm McClinton and striking interiror illustrations from Segio Ibanez.

For Odom’s adventure, “The Hornet’s Big Score,” Britt Reid and Hayashi Kato face a killing spree frm the crafter crime lord Kavieff and race forth to snuff the carnage. The Detroit esacpage proves touchy but our resilient duo fights on to right a great wrong in this sizzling exploit. Kato is an admirable stand-out in this yarn, with plenty of Bruce Lee panache to spare, but Odom nails it a hundredfold with the Hornet, capturing the particular essence that Van Williams brought to the suave Britt Reid. On this basis, fans of the classic television series will be more than pleased. But anyone who’s encountered the Hornet & Kato’s adventures, no matter their incarnations or contexts, are certain to give “Big Score” a big thumbs-up.

In Fortier’s Frost caper, “The Vanishing Train,” our cool criminologist and his scrupulous, Harlow-ish confidant, Miss Jean Moray, investigate a missing locomotive. How could an object so massisve just disappear? That’s the clever angle of this crispy written mystery, which will leave readers conjecturing to the hilt. Beyond its nifty slant, the characterizations fuel this entry. Fortier gives a noble job of giving Frost his frosty demeanor, but Moray is the story’s beacon; a woman who’s smart, pretty and tenacious in the best, cool-headed way. Thanks to Fortier’s interpretation, she’s more than a sidekick, but one who possesses forefront, Emma Peel appeal.

Don’t miss out on this momentous debut of new Double Shot series from Moonstone Books.

 


 

SHERLOCK HOLMES VS DRACULA

 

SHERLOCK HOLMES VS DRACULA

By Loren D. Estleman

Titan Books

196 pgs

There have been numerous Holmes pastiches that pit him against the King of Vampires. Some have been decent, others abysmal and a very few extremely well done. This tome falls totally in the latter category and is a great deal of fun. Estleman’s plot is cleverly woven around Bram Stoker’s famous story so that those familiar with it will easily recognize those scenes when intruded upon by Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Which is his main approach sticking to Conan Doyle’s own styling in which the good doctor is our narrator. Holmes is brought into the matter when asked to visit the seacoast town of Whitby shortly after a ship from Transylvania has crashed upon its shores due to a horrendous sea storm. The ship is discovered abandoned except for the dead captain tied to the wheel. Witness also report having seen a massive dog leaping from the craft onto the beach and disappearing into the night.

A few weeks later the famed detective learns of a series of child kidnapping plaguing the neighboring communities reported to be the work of a female like wraith in white. Quick to take up the hunt, Holmes and Watson arrive in time to witness the destruction of the vampire by Doctor Abraham Van Helsing and his allies. And just like that Conan Doyle’s hero collides with Stoker’s masterpiece of horror.

The book is so much fun but its strongest element is how wonderfully Estleman portrays the relationship between Holmes and Watson. Over the years, hundreds of writers have taken on this duo and their amazing friendship. Estleman underscores the loyalty to the max and then gives us insight into how much the Great Detective actually appreciated his true brother in spirit. “Sherlock Holmes VS Dracula” is well worth your time. It satisfies from first page to last.