Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Caleb Thorne 1

First Shot
Caleb Thorne 1
by L.J. Coburn (Laurence James)
1977 Sphere

Caleb Thorne starts out as one of the most distasteful western protagonists put to page, and I hope he stays that way.

He's a rich, bullying layabout who mocks the fighting men of the military and delights in killing them off in duels.  He's engaged to a girl of a rich family but is more interested in her mother.  Thorne has some mother issues, and by that I mean he's banging his mom.  Just shy of a full blown sex scene, it's made pretty clear he took his dad's place after he killed him, so he's got the whole Oedipus package going on.

After a pretty nasty sex scene of him with his mother-in-law to be during the First Battle of Bull Run, his fiance and mother both die in the conflict, giving Thorne his Batmanesque motivation to join the Union Army.

As luck would have it, his new commanding officer is the father of a man Thorne killed in a duel.  He's made the leader of a Dirty Dozen style special troop of condemned criminals forced to fight in suicide missions.  We wrap up with a quick mission to blow up a bridge.

I'm guessing there's going to be some Joseph Campbell thing where our hero undergoes a personal transformation to not be a such a horrible human being, but I hope not.  The series only lasted five issue - there's mention that Civil War books didn't sell well at the time.  I'm guessing because you risk alienating half of your reading public depending on what side your protagonist is on.

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