Monday, September 27, 2021

SATURN'S CHILD And Other Tales


SATURN’S CHILD And Other Tales

By Mark Allen Vann

Xepico Press

211 pages

Writer Mark Allen Vann has the marvelous talent of spinning old familiar genres around until they appear like something totally fresh and new.  He does this to perfection in his latest collection of stories, “Saturn’s Child And Other Tales.” There are a total of seven and each is wonderfully presented with seven new and original heroes battling all manner of villainy.

Saturn’s Child kicks off the collection wherein Vann does a flip on a classic Edgar Rice Burroughs off-world yarn. In this case it is the beautiful Saturn Princess Xian Xenn who, while fleeing assassins, is magical transported to the planet Earth. Specifically Los Vegas in the 70s where she encounters mobsters, berserk bikers and ultimately has a meeting none other than the King. We’ll be nominating this one for a Pulp Factory Award.

Secondly “Bad Medicine at Blackstone Gulch,” is a weird western that introduces us to Marshal Hollister Payne charged with bringing the deadly four Yancy Brothers to Silver City to be judged for their many crimes. Along the way they encounter the ghost of an Indian Shaman set on delivering his own blood-oath vengeance.

“Dented Halos and Dirty Faces.” Angel City was once a thriving metropolis protected by the Justice Squadron. Then the vampire invasion fell upon it and the heroes were defeated. Now the citizens cower in fear every night as the blood suckers seek out their new victims. Private Eye Jana Dhark, the former super-hero Jett, is hired to find a missing teenage girl by her father. But to do so will mean assembling a new team with the courage to enter the Dead Zone and confront an army of the undead.

“They Call Him…Iron Mask” is a really charming twist on the Superman origin, only this time the rocket ship that crash lands in Martha and Elroy’s farm backyard is carrying a humanoid shaped robot with good intentions. What happens next is both amusing and endearing. A story we personally love and will to be another award nomination for sure.

“The Lion of Llanaxa” begins well enough but simply doesn’t deliver by its conclusion. It’s a tale that goes nowhere and thus is the weakest one in the book.

“Through Fog of War” has World War II Navy sailor Colton Kendricks shipwrecked on a strange deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific. What he discovers on that island defies all reason and logic, but proves to be a very good opening chapter to what we hope is more to come.

Finally Vann wraps it all up with “Stalker in the Shadows,” the tale of Rick Mordane who lives in a world where the dead have come back to life. Well at least as visible, interacting ghosts if you will and he’s a private eye better identified as a Poltergeist Negotiator. What a hot looking redhead comes to him saying she’s being stalked by a former lover, Rick finds himself unable to resist her charms even though the case itself has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. A really wonky, fun story.

And there you have it, four terrific yarns, two genuine gems and one lackluster affair. Meaning this is another well crafted Xepico Press offering by a writer whose talent is only growing with each new collection. You don’t want to miss it.




Friday, September 24, 2021




Vol 1 No 3

Edited by Robert Deis & Bill Cunningham

Pulp 2.0

153 pgs

We came home from Vietnam in July of 1968. We were only too happy to return to civilian life and put that last year behind us. By March of 1969 we were working in a shoe factory and attending college at night. Sometime in that month we picked up a paperback novel called “The Executioner – War against The Mafia” by Don Pendleton. It was to be the first in a series from a new publisher named Pinnacle. A few weeks later they released, “The Destroyer” by Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy. After reading both of these initial adventures, we had one thought – the pulps were back! After having been a comic book reader since childhood, we eventually picked up some knowledge of those 30s and 40s yellow paged magazines that had entertained folks during the Great Depression. Reading Mack Bolan and Remo Williams, it was only too evident that they were new, modern “pulp” heroes for a new generation.

Sure enough within months, the drugstore racks were overflowing with new “hero” series ala the Death Merchant by Joseph Rosenberger, Piers Anthony’s Judomaster, Marc Olden’s Black Samurai, Paul Kenyon’s The Baroness. It seemed every possible classic pulp genre was covered to even include the occult ala Frank Lauria’s Doctor Orient books. Oh yeah, for the next decade, we readers would be the benefactors of the newest incarnation of pulps, which had morphed from the classic 40s volumes into the MAMs of the 50s and 60s and now the paperback boom of the 70s. We loved the stuff.

Whereas The Executioner books were by far our favorites and we followed them loyally from Pinnacle to Gold Eagle. Even enjoying the spin-off series as they emerged. At one point we actually corresponded with one of the ghost writers on Able Team. In the end we’d amassed well over two hundred paperbacks with name Pendleton painted across the covers before selling the lot in a yard sale to an employee of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire, whose purpose was to divvy them up amongst his co-workers there. So we were delighted they’d found a new and worthy home.

Now Bill Cunningham and Bob Deis have turned their magnificent creative spotlight on The Executioner phenomenon with the third issue of their “Men’s Adventure Quarterly” and it is by far their best issue so far. The volume is jammed packed with not only the history of this amazing ground-breaking series and its creator, but includes several excellent articles and pictorials. The piece on action-adventure writer Chuck Dixon is great and details his own work on such iconic characters and the Punisher and Batman in the comics to his own Levon Cade paperback adventures. There are also several short stories in the same vein such as the over-the-top “The Amputee Vengeance Squad’s Mafia Wipeout” by Jack Tyler. They also feature not one, but two “book bonus” reprints of the first two Executioner novels in their entirety as they appeared in two different MAMs.

As always Cunningham has an artist touch with his beautiful layouts; our favorites being the spread of Gil Cohen cover paintings and further into the issue the reproduction of the first dozen Executioner covers from Pinnacle. Seeing those unleashed a flood of great memories for this reviewer. Linda Pendleton’s memoir of her life with Don relives the early days when Mack Bolan was just an idea that had to be born. Wrap this all up with a little Bettie Page spread and you end up with one of slickest, expertly produced magazine packages ever assembled. Kudos to the Deis – Cunningham team. You boys are 3 for 3 at bat. Now that’s a damn impressive record.


Monday, September 20, 2021

NIGHTVEIL - Crisis at the Crossroads of Infinity.



Crisis at the Crossroads of Infinity

By Bobby Nash

Pro-Se Press

171 pgs

Several years ago AC Comics, one of the longest running independent comics companies in the country, joined forces with New Pulp publisher Pro-Se Press to produce several novels based on their colorful comic book characters. Writer Bobby Nash immediately signed on to write a book featuring AC’s female sorceress, Nightveil. The end result was “Nightveil – Crisis at the Crossings of Infinity.”

The adventure opens at a nexus point where all dimensions meet. There an obsessed Nightveil is battling another Nightveil from another world. Believing her world is being slowly destroyed by the creation of multiple worlds, this one time hero is now bent on eliminating all her doppelgangers. The opening chapter is a fierce encounter played out against the backdrop of infinity. Soon the world known as Wastelands is littered with the bodies of fallen Nightveils.

At which point Laura Wright, our world’s own Nightveil, becomes aware of this threat and nearly becomes the evil sorceress’ next victim. Realizing she cannot defeat the crazed Nightveil alone, Laura devises a plan to recruit other Nightveils and heroes from the myriad dimensions to help save infinity. All of which culminates in a cosmic encounter overseen by a powerful entity with the ability to change reality as we know it.

In reading this fast paced adventure, we were impressed with Nash’s ability to write all the various incarnations of the same person. He expertly moves from scene to scene and we are never once confused as to who’s who. In the end, the adventure works brilliantly and wraps with a satisfying climax.

In 2019 “Nightveil – Crisis at the Crossroads of Infinity” won the Pulp Factory Award for Best Novel; an award it totally merited.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021




Edited by Joe Gentile

Featuring - The Green Hornet & Kolchak

By Nancy Holder &

Johnny Dollar

By Tommy Hancock

Moonstone Books

55 pgs

Recently Moonstone Books has started publishing new short Green Hornet prose adventures by various New Pulp scribes in small booklets. Each features a GH tale backed up by a second story featuring another pulp character. In this edition, that is radio investigator Johnny Dollar.

Nancy Holder’s GH story, “House of a Thousand Screams” is fun in that a young reporter named Carl Kolchak shows up at Sentinel publisher Britt Reid’s office looking for a job. He tells read that if given a chance, he’ll uncover the identity of the Green Hornet within two weeks. As this develops, Kolchak also discovers murder at a rundown amusement park and actually ends up working GH and Kato to capture the bad guys. Again, lots of fun.

Then we have Tommy Hancock’s Johnny Dollar story “The For Jenny Matter” about a murdered young woman who worked as a secretary in the police station. At first it appears she is just another victim of a twisted serial killer, but things aren’t what they appear to me and slowly Dollar begins to suspects the real monster is someone he knows personally. This is by far one of Hancock’s best works and the ending is powerful in so many emotional ways. Look for this to get award nods at the end of the year.

All total a little book that packs a solid punch. Way to go, Moonstone!

Tuesday, September 07, 2021



By Jonathan W. Sweet

Brick Pickle Media LLC.

157 pgs

This is the second book in this series featuring Sweet’s original pulp hero and we are delighted. As much as we enjoyed his first outing, this one is twice as much fun. We’re given two really great adventures.

In the first the Jackal, with the assistant of actor Edward Van Sloan hunts a real vampire. Of course this is a delight in that Van Sloan portrayed Prof. Abraham Van Helsing in the film “Dracula” opposite Bela Lugosi. Sweet enjoys setting the tale in his own twin-cities backyard of Minneapolis and St. Paul and it works to perfection.

In his second outing, the Jackal teams with a former lover/vigilante, the beautiful Eurasian Charlie Becker aka the Black Wraith. She is after a killer who may be in possession of a lost manuscript supposedly penned by Edgar Alan Poe before his death. The man is attempting to sell the document to unscrupulous book dealers who are willing to pay exorbitantly for the lost tale. An added bonus to this particular adventure is basis of truth behind the story and Sweet actually reprints Poe’s original pages to the tale he never completed. Fascinating stuff.

All in all, “Ghosts of the Jackal” is simply terrific and Sweet a really polished writer who is clearly having a good time with this series. So much that his enthusiasm translates to every scene, pulling us readers along for the ride. Honestly, we want more.