Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Red Menace 1 - Red and Buried by James Mullaney

Red and Buried
The Red Menace #1
by James Mullaney
2011, Self Published

Red and Buried is one of those books where you're better off not thinking of the various genres that it resembles, as it doesn't quite fit the style of any of them and stands better on it's own merits.  The Red Menace is a masked secret agent from the 1950s, armed with a shadowy cloak and gloves with paralyzing chemicals.  The story is set in 1972, and the now retired Red Menace is called back into action with the cranky Dr. Wainwright to investigate suspicious missile silos in Cuba.

The masked hero elements don't really fit the style of heroes like the Shadow or the Spider, and the 70s action parts don't really fit Men's Adventure.  It's superficially similar to the Watchman or Earth-2 in 1970s DC comics with the retired hero bit, but the story is way more realistic.  It resembles a lot of things that it isn't, and the story is more enjoyable read on its own terms.

Having said that, I now wish it was the post-modern pulp/Men's Adventure/comic pastiche I was expecting.  Instead, we have a passable, relatively low-key espionage novel, like a calmed down James Bond.  The only over the top elements are the invective against communism, which I think was supposed to be witty, and a couple of history changing events.

It is nice to see established authors putting out competent works on their own.

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