Thursday, April 2, 2015

Body Smasher by Jan Stacy

Body Smasher
Body Smasher 1
by Jan Stacy
1989 Zebra Books


Just when I ask myself why I slog through the literary sewers, I'm rewarded for my efforts with Body Smasher!  Pro wrestling meets Men's Adventure.  I thought Lou Albano merely endorsed this book, but no, he's a major character.

A group of random communist terrorists, led by a crazed professor, get a hold of some plutonium and create a nuclear device.  Some gym chalk is found at the scene of one of the thefts, so clearly they intend to use the device at the World Wrestling Games, or International Games, or the All-World Games, or whatever, at Flushing Meadow Park, New York.

There's no time to lose, so CIA Director Parker hires his old Nam buddy, washed up cage fighter and YMCA instructor Rick Harrison, and trains him for a month in an underground base before entering him in the games.  Training sequences are a lost art in action fiction, and I didn't mind spending more than half the book there.  Harrison stays in a tiny, coffin like room outfitted with Jetson style toiletries while he's trained in lockpicking and espionage, but what we came to see is the rasslin'!

Enter Captain Lou Albano, who trains Harrison along with the fictional (as far as I could tell) Destroyer.  Near the end of his training, the Destroyer identifies Harrison as being of a race of native American superhumans called the Werrieux, or bodysmashers, and teaches him the ancient deadly art of the Double Kick Death Drop, which is like a straight-legged lung blower, I don't know, I'm not Joey Styles.

Harrison's final exam comes in the form of an incredibly convoluted death maze complete with a cowboy robot.  The second test has him dropped in the middle of the woods and him finding his way to civilization.

He finally joins the Games, which are shockingly not pro-wrestling, but a combination of weightlifting, Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.  Pro-wrestling is usually portrayed in fiction as being real, but not like reality which is fake, if you follow me.  Either way, it's usually it's own thing, completely different from real (Olympic, Greco Roman, etc) wrestling.  Here, the pros are simply amateur wrestlers who get paid.

To confuse matters more, after going over the rules and point system for takedowns and pins, Harrison wins his first match with an enziguri kick, and I'm pretty sure kicks to the face are illegal in every kind of wrestling that has rules.

There's a weird detour of Harrison being beaten, dumped in the river, and rescued by a mysterious, tattooed sewer dweller who heals him with kung fu magic before the final showdown.

There's not a ton of action, and what's there is a little rushed.  Surprisingly gory, perhaps the goriest Men's Adventure I've come across.  We've got a detailed description of the effect of a stinger missile fired indoors at point blank range at a man's chest,  The radiation causes the terrorists' bodies to deteriorate, and by the end they're falling apart like an 80's Troma film.  This is put to good use when Albano and his deadly beard rubber bands come into play.

These were the days where Men's Adventure books were twice as big as the should have been, but Stacy keeps things breezy without any padding or drag, despite the fact that not a whole lot actually happens.

A couple of sex scenes, one with an awkward soliloquy on safe sex which chilled me a bit, as the author died of AIDS the same year this was released.

Jan Stacy seemed like an interesting character, and along with his occasional writing partner Ryder Syvertsen, they produced some of the most fun Men's Adventure of the era.  We'll definitely be visiting them again.

1 comment:

  1. I bought this new off the rack in '89. I guess I was around 14 at the time. I think it was the last men's adventure novel I bought in my youth...I recall I got it because it was a first volume and I thought great, I can finally start reading one of these things from the start. I think I might've attempted reading it then, but I know I never finished it.

    I forgot all about it until 5 years ago, when Justin Marriott put a cover scan of it in an issue of Paperback Fanatic. Then I forgot about it again until your great review! Who knows what happened to my original copy, but I just ordered another one online, as well as the follow-up (and final) volume...looking forward to reading them. Sounds like Stacy's work on The Last Ranger, a bit of a slower pace with a focus on training, as well as a few out-of-nowhere psychedelic scenes and sexual interludes, before getting nice and gory in the climax.