Thursday, December 31, 2020

Warriors of Mars by Michael Moorcock

 Warriors of Mars aka City of the Beast
by Michael Moorcock (as Edward P. Bradbury)
1965 Compact

Michael Kane is an Olympic level fencer and physicist who creates an experimental matter transmittal device that teleports him to ancient Mars. He involves himself with the locals, defends a city from an invasion of blue-skinned giants, and rescues a captured princess.

Fun, unpretentious, and well written action, with a great siege scene.  This is my first Moorcock, and lacks the depth and trippyness of his later works.  Kane is supposed to be an aspect of Moorcock's Eternal Champion, and Kane is definitely an archetype, if by that you mean incredibly generic.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Marvel 1964: Spider-Man

Not much changing with Spidey this year.  He's established as being a high school senior and loses his glasses at the beginning of the year.  By the end of the year it seems clearer that Pete and Flash were in the same friend group, rather than him being an outsider.

Don't know how strong he is, but he's stronger than Iron Man and Giant-Man, though not as much as Thor, Hulk, or Thing, a ranking that I dispute.

Amazing Spider-Man 8-19

Available from Amazon collected in Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Great Power

Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Swordsman of Mars by Otis Adelbert Kline

 The Swordsman of Mars
by Otis Adelbert Kline
1933 Argosy

Down on his luck Harry Thorne is kidnapped by a mad scientist who psychically switches his consciousness with his double who lived on ancient Mars.  His mission, to kill the subject of a previous swap who plans on using ray gun technology to threaten Earth.

More violent than I was expecting, with heads being cut off or in half and rolling all over the place.  Not as fantastical or literate as Princess of Mars.  Perhaps due to the read of the audiobook it evoked the idea of a Planet & Sword/Gangbusters crossover, but that was not to be.

Kindle and Audiobook from Amazon

Audiobook currently on Hoopla, check your library

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

TV Obscura: The People Next Door

 The People Next Door
1989, CBS
10 episodes, 5 unaired

Created by Wes Craven and Bruce Wagner, of all people, The People Next Door is a sitcom about a cartoonist with an imagination so strong it comes to life, with hilarious consequences. Starring Jeffrey Jones, a man whose fantasies got put him on a register. Guest starring a bunch of folks who weren't too busy in 1989, including Tony Danza, Margaret Cho, Rob Lowe, and Alan Cumming.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Marvel 1964: Thor

Odin gets pissed at Thor for not giving up his love for Jane Foster, so he cuts his power in half. His strength is halved, though we didn't know how strong he was in the first place.  He loses his ability to control the weather and to travel to Asgard, which he does anyway a few months later.

New things his hammer can do: hypnotize people, emit melting alpha rays, create a space warp that teleports enemies randomly through space, and can freeze time.  Other hammer facts: as a child Thor could lift the hammer a little bit at a time as he became worthy; while others can't lift the hammer, they can lift the handle and pivot the head, and Don Blake turns to Thor if someone else hits his cane on the floor.

We get another sense that Thor and Blake have different consciousnesses - Thor does some basic electronics based on what he's learned from Iron Man, while we know that Don Blake is proficient enough to make his own robot, though I'm sure Stan Lee already forgot about that.  Going the other direction, Thor considered changing back to Blake to use his medical skills.

Still don't know if Thor is bulletproof, but he probably is as landmines only stun him.  Oh, and Thor helped spawn the human race.

Journey into Mystery 100-111

Available from Amazon collected in Thor Epic Collection: The God Of Thunder

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Bannerman the Enforcer by Kirk Hamilton

Bannerman the Enforcer
by Kirk Hamilton (Keith Hetherington)
1965 Cleveland Publishing (unsure of this)

Yancey Bannerman defends his brother against accusations of bank robbery, gets hired by the Texas Governor, and stops a bridge from being blown up.  Standard oater. Aside from some bits about customizing firearms, nothing of interest.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Marvel 1964: Ant-Man and the Wasp

 Pym starts to show some feelings, with them more or less being a couple by the end of the year.  Pym becomes Giant-Man, and is able to control his and Janet's height with cybernetic power, and communicate telepathically through their helmets (which I suspect gets forgotten).

Pym gets his secret identity discovered by a hood, but nothing a little mind wipe won't cure.

Never date a bio-chemist

Janet starts narrating a monster story in a framing device for the second story and gets a Wasp solo story before that slot is given to the Hulk.

Tales to Astonish 51-62 

Available from Amazon collected in Ant-Man/Giant Man Epic Collection: The Man in the Ant-Hill

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Jubal Cade 9: Days of Blood by Charles R. Pike

Jubal Cade 9: Days of Blood 
by Charles R. Pike (Angus Wells)
1977 Chelsea House

Trained to heal - born to kill! Jubal Cade is a bowler wearing doctor who is seeking vengeance for his dead wife, earning money to support treatment for his blind adopted son along the way.  There's a lot packed into this slim volume.  Bandits slaughter an entire town before hijacking a train.  There's a train shootout before it crashes in the snow, leaving Cade to lead survivors through the frozen wilderness ahead of a pack of starving wolves.  He runs into an old enemy in town while he takes a job escorting a rich widow back to Texas.

We get a dynamite siege of a church in a town run by fundamentalist, Indian attacks, a range war, naked hooker with a shotgun, sniper attack, ending in a final hand on hand duel.  Your standard western this size maybe has two set pieces, where this burns through several.  The sense of scale adjusts seemlessly, jumping between shootouts with a half dozen toughs to a one-on-one challenge, maintaining the sense of danger throughout.

The series is similar to Edge (it was originated by the same author, Terry Harknett), but with the puns and anatomical details toned down a notch. Cade is a bit more heroic than the rest of the Piccadillys, in that he occasionally goes out of his way to help others as opposed to being a complete psychopath.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

TV Horror Anthology: Quinn Martin's Tales of the Unexpected

 Quinn Martin's Tales of the Unexpected
8 Episodes
1977 CBS

Slow paced drudgery with recycled plots, such as this episode, a remake of the Invaders pilot.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Dark Shadows 30: Barnabas, Quentin and the Mad Magician by Marilyn Ross

 Dark Shadows 30
Barnabas, Quentin and the Mad Magician
by Marilyn Ross
1971 Paperback Library

World famous magician Cabrini comes to Colinwood, placing a character under his hypnotic spell.  A series of throat slashing murders casts suspicion on Quentin, while Barnabas helps solve the mystery,

Is the murderer the sinister magician? Is it one of the two main characters? Or is, it's the magician.  There is no mystery here.  This jives with the mood of what I remember from the series: we have werewolf boy not being a werewolf, vampire boy not being a vampire, and people discussing the discussions they've had about things that happened off page.

Audiobook available, check your library

Marvel 1964: Fantastic Four

 The series starts to settle into a regular rogues gallery.  Sue gains the ability to use forcefields and turn other things/people invisible.  Strange Tales shifts to a Human Torch/Thing duo, where Ben finally gives us his patented catchphrase.

Instead of being the family they're later know as, Reed Richards is the explicit leader of the group, and he's not afraid to say it, to the point of faking being a villain so he can show up Johnny and Ben.  

Reed is kind of a dick.

Fantastic Four 22-33; Strange Tales 116-127

Available from Amazon in Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Master Plan Of Doctor Doom and The Human Torch & The Thing: Strange Tales - The Complete Collection

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Series Showdown: Spaceways vs Wraeththu

 This was supposed to be the showdown of inappropriately sexy science fiction series, and instead both had less sex than non porn/erotica genre novels of the same periods.  Both had races of sex-crazed hermaphrodites, though strangely Spaceways dealt with gender issues more deftly.  That and it's shorter. So I'll go with that, I guess.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Wraeththu 1: The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit by Storm Constantine

Wraeththu 1
The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit
by Storm Constantine
1987 Macdonald & Co

I was told there would be penis flowers.  Where are the penis flowers?

The Wraeththu are an evolved strain of humanity that live in an ill defined post-apocalyptic waste-ish land.  No sense of how far in the future - Wraeththu have been around a couple hundred years, but some of that presumably before the series of small things that led to Earth's decay.  There are still functioning vehicles and an abundance of commercial goods.

The Wraeththu are all male - there is some lip service to them being hermaphroditic, androgynous, or beyond human gender, but they're all dudes.  They reproduce by maybe doing sex to human males and turning them into Wraeththu, as well as being able to reproduce among themselves, though this evidently happens rarely and isn't explained.

Young Pellaz is a human boy who is picked up by travelling Wraeththu Cal who turns him into their kind.  They travel around a bit meeting other Wraeththu, Pellaz gets shot in the head, he heals, Cal and Pellaz are separated, Pellaz is told he'll be king of the Wraeththu because he's the prettiest or something, the end.

Poor worldbuilding, no plot to speak of, and anything of interest is hidden behind a curtain.  Few details of Pell's transformation, or how he was recreated after being shot, given that Pell was drugged unconscious through both.

Described as erotica, this is the most chaste novel I've ever read.  I had to go back and re-read lines to figure out where she faded to black.  Two characters hold hands then they're eating breakfast and you just assume something happened.  No mention of how they have sex, other than there are ways to do it that cause pregnancy and some that don't, kind of like human hetereo sex.  Then there are the flower penises, which, like all explicit sexual acts, are completely absent from this installment. 

The book has a nasty habit of just declaring something and then showing something else. Wraeththu are said to be incapable of individual love, yet every character pines over someone. They are beyond masculine concepts like war, which is why they will wipe out humanity under a central dictatorship. And they don't believe in rape, while the closest they come to consent is violating hypnotized teenagers.

On one level it reads like rural gay teen wish fulfillment - a sexy man comes to your crappy small town and whisks you away to a more exciting world.  But mostly it reads as female fascination with a sexless concept of homosexuality, like a twelve year old rubbing two Ken dolls together, only less graphic.  It's telling that the only female character is only there to hook two guys up in a goth club.

To say something nice, it comes before Vampire: The Masquerade, with it's vague pseudo-vampires and distinct clans, as well and Neil Gaiman's Sandman which has a similar vibe at its worst.  It has language that implies sex, violence, and horror, but there is none here.

Plot wise it may be some kind of sprawling Dune-like epic across various installments that can only be appreciated in its entirety, and I'm not exactly the target audience for this kind of thing, but I've seen referenced to how f'ed up this series is supposed to be, and it just ain't here.

Available overpriced on Amazon

Wednesday, December 2, 2020