DEAD JACK and The OLD GODS
By James Aquilone
Unlike the overwhelming majority of our colleagues in the
pulp community, we have never been fans of writer H.P. Lovecraft. His elaborate
myth of the Cthulu and the Old Gods always seemed too grandiose a concept to be
effective as good old fashion, gut wrenching horror. Gives us a creepy Edgar
Alan Poe tale anytime. Obviously we are the minority and over the years have had
to endure countless stories wherein various popular occult detectives battled
the cosmic deities with their giant batwings and elephant snouts ad infinitum.
Everyone one of those left us bored silly.
Which brings us to James Aquilone’s third Dead Jack
adventure in which, you guessed it, our cynical Zombie detective and his
Pillsbury Doughboy homunculus pal Oswald, must save the world of Pandemonium from
the Ancient Gods. Apparently someone has gotten their hands on the dark magic
tome known as the Necronomicon and is all set to open up a dimensional portal by
which Cthulu and company will make their appearance. At this point we were
ready to stifle a yawn. That never happened in this instance is due to Aquilone’s
brilliant solution to the whole Lovecratian mythos; make it funny. Which is
exactly what does work.
Amidst their quest for the book, Dead Jack and Oswald are
attempting to work out some very serious relationship issues left over from
their last adventure. It seems Oswald has swallowed a magical Jupiter Stone
which gives him amazing powers. Though unwilling to admit it, Dead Jack is
envious. Succumbing to that emotion, he begins to verbally abuse his little
buddy to the point they seek out couples-therapy. Somewhere in the middle of
this merging of insane plots, it suddenly dawned on us who the two of them
brought to mind. Jack and Oswald are the horror/fantasy versions of the classic
Hollywood comedy team of Bad Abbott and Lou
Costello. It’s all there, from their sniping attitudes towards each other in
the midst of danger, to the underlying true sense of friendship and loyalty.
All of which plays itself out by the book’s cataclysmic no-holds-barred battle between their unified avatar and the alien God of Doom. Honestly, Aquilone surprised us again with another entry twice as much fun as the first two. With Dead Jack, things are never dull for a second. Oh, and before we forget, the writer offers up two bonus short tales that are mini gems. The hardest part of reading a Dead Jack novel is reaching the end and having to wait for more. Now that’s cruel.