Sunday, November 29, 2020

Series Showdown: MIA Hunter vs Stony Man

 MIA Hunter was better written, but Stony Man had more, and better, action.  Stony Man Doctrine has been listed as the first Super Bolan, as well as the first Stony Man.  Super Bolan was the closest in time, with Stony Man being continued eight years later.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Spaceways 1: Of Alien Bondage by John Cleve

Spaceways 1: Of Alien Bondage
by John Cleve (Andrew J. Offutt)
1982 Playboy

As we saw in the Crusader series, Andrew Offutt is totally capable of writing rousing adventures stories and full blown porn at the same time. This is neither.

Captain Jonuta is a space slaver who captures Janja from her primitive planet. She is sold, escapes, and everyone hangs around. Nothing happens in this entire book.

A little bit of world building. White people on Earth have been eradicated, with the non-white races having only faint racial memory of hate for them. Janja is white, which could get complicated but doesn't really matter much. Western culture is long forgotten, except for Marquis de Sade and John Norman's Gor series, which are referred to at length.

Tons of exposition with very little content, and the sex is mostly told rather than shown. Sex is talked about constantly, but barely happens on the page. The scifi potential for inter-humanoid sex is largely squandered - there's even a race of sex-crazed hermaphrodites that only see action off page.

Perfect for Playboy - softcore and dull.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Series Showdown: Flash Gordon vs Dark Shadows

Next up in the Novelizations and Media Tie-Ins division, a showdown between two titles in the "Media Tie Ins That I Wouldn't Have Expected to See Released in Audiobook and Free at My Library" category. In a stunning upset, I'm going with Dark Shadows. Flash underperformed, where Dark Shadows exactly fulfilled my expectations.  That and I know further Flash installments will just be more of "Flash tries to get the Badger Men and Wombat Men to fight Ming, but they don't like each other, and Flash does some kind of gladiator combat".

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Stony Man Doctrine by G.H. Frost

Stony Man Doctrine
by G.H. Frost
1983 Gold Eagle

Mack Bolan, Able Team, and Phoenix Force fight a coalition of gangs, commies, and Islamic fundamentalists seeking to attack America with chemical weapons.

HQ gets a lead, a strike teams shoots the place up, repeat until page count goal.  Less characterization than usual with way too many characters.  After all the Bolanverse novels I've read, I can name one character, Carl Lyons, the closest to having a personality.

Points for having a shootout at a massive abandoned amusement park in Central Texas.  Points off for not have a shootout on an operating ride, and night even a chase up a roller coaster track.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Dark Shadows by Marilyn Ross

 Dark Shadows
by Marilyn Ross
1966 Paperback Library

You grew up in an orphanage, knowing nothing about your family.  You get a job offer as a governess in a spooky house owned by a family who have been secretly financing your care.  A word of advice - if you are going to make out with any of the boys, I suggest you don't look at the hidden portrait in the locked basement.

Not a novelization, but a parallel set of stories to the gothic soap opera. Like the soap opera, the book series never answers the question of Victoria's parentage after being hijacked by time travelling vampires (though a Big Finish audio play does).  This installment has a self-contained mystery, but we never find out if she's in love with her probable half-brother and/or nephew.

I've never read a proper gothic romance, but this hits every square of the bingo card I've picked up from Scooby-Doo: stranger at the window, hidden portraits, secret passages, a locked room nobody's allowed in, suicide, madness, etc.

Available in Kindle and paperback from Amazon.

And check your library for an audiobook version

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Flash Gordon 1: The Lion-Men of Mongo

Flash Gordon 1: The Lion-Men of Mongo
by Con Steffanson (Ron Goulart)
1974 Avon 

Flash, Dale, and Dr. Zarkov are separated as they crash land on planet Mongo. They do capture/escape routine several times, fighting slavers, mermen, and tiger men in gladiator pits, before running afoul of Ming the Merciless.

Not as much action as I expected, with most of the page count either travelling or talking about travelling. Goulart does a good job of respecting the source material without slipping too far into camp, keeping everything light.

The main issue I had is with the back story. In the original comic strip, like the movie, Ming is attacking Earth with advanced technology, with Flash fighting impossible odds for all humanity.  In this series, Flash and company are interplanetary explorers who find Mongo, a primitive backwoods planet. Humanity is far advanced technologically.  By the end of the story they could leave Mongo at any time, but stick around to fight Ming just for kicks. This lowers the stakes and takes away most of the emotional drive of the original.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Check your library for the Audiobook on Libby and Hoopla.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Tower of Evil by James Kisner

 Tower of Evil
by James Kisner
1994 BMI

I needed this.  After countless Zebra paperbacks set in small town America with body counts in the low single digits, a good urban gorefest.

Security guard Shannon is snowed in overnight at her Indianapolis office building during a blizzard.  The spirit of a murdered homeless man, Dead Ted, is able to control animate objects in the building with deadly effect, as well as animate the corpses of his victims.

So we get 300+ pages of late night lawyers and cleaning crews being slaughtered by vending machines and the like, then the bodies rising from the dead for further carnage.  Shannon faces off against the undead horde, her main weapon being a series of fire extinguishers, which make heads explode when you shove the nozzle in their mouths and fill them up with foam.

Severed body part masturbation, an endless litter of flesh earing demon babies, and a demon headed penis with acid ejaculate. Not particularly well written, with the author purposely hitting some of my buttons (every woman gets her breasts described, the Black characters unable to speak English, etc).  It's at its weakest with the scenes of Dead Ted, with way too much time explaining the rules of what he is or isn't able to do.  We never get an explanation of what brought him back, aside from hints of demonic power, and that's definitely for the best.

I'm a sucker for horror stories in office buildings, and you could do worse than someone trying to out-do Sam Raimi.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Marvel Year Two Overview

Lee and company have found a groove, mostly fitting a story within a single issue, and even have a couple two-parters.

A little time travel: Iron man goes back to flirt with Cleopatra, and we're introduced to Rama Tut, who later is also Kang and Immortus and several others.  No instances of anyone trying to change the past or future or issues with paradoxes or alternate universes.

The hollow earth gets more Shaverish.  We get abandoned advanced technology with Tyrannus and a whole underground society with Kala, Queen of the Underworld.  Lava Man are joining the gang as well.

Secret identities are in full force.  The X-Men know each other, but the Avengers don't (with the exception of Giant-Man and the Wasp).  Both Thor and Iron Man get found out, Iron Man twice, but the nosy parties are killed or banished to Limbo so all is well.

We have the first instance of Limbo, later to be merged with the Limbos of ROM and Magik

Repeated Plots:

Thor had a "trick shape changing aliens into becoming things of low intelligence" story, tricking the Xartans into becoming trees like Reed Richards hypnotized the Skrulls into becoming cows.

The Awesome Android, the Super Skrull, and Doctor Zaxton's duplicating machine give us villains who copy our heroes' powers, to be followed by Super Adaptoid and many, many others.

We can add the Actor, Space Phantom, Loki, and Mr. Hyde to the Chameleon and Skrulls for "villain impersonating hero" plot.  Thor gets impersonated at least three times this year.

Keeping track: Reed hasn't use hypnosis, Thor didn't use time travel and hasn't been hit by bullets.