MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY
Vol 1 No 3
Edited by Robert Deis & Bill Cunningham
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.