Thursday, May 27, 2021

Mathew Swain 1: Hot Time in Old Town by Mike McQuay

Mathew Swain 1
Hot Time in Old Town
by Mike McQuay
1981 Bantam

Proto-cyberpunk hard boiled detective story, done better and a year earlier than Blade Runner.  Mathew Swain is a wisecracking PI in the Chandler vein, hired by an aging millionaire to investigate the death of his son.  As is often the case, the investigation quickly gets personal and the original assignment gets all but forgotten.

Life is cheap in the world of the future. Entire apartment complexes are destroyed to cover evidence, laser cannons slice bodies and buildings in half, and meat wagons gather the corpses, dumping them in acid. Swain teams up with an old flame who runs the underground against an evil CEO, and dips it's toe in men's adventure levels of violence.

The action gets derailed by a diversion through mutant territory and being held for trial, which was just a bunch of sub-Three Stooges monkey cheese nonsense, before the plot gets resolved in a violent anti-climax.

Good mix of science fiction with hardboiled detective, but the mix of men's adventure and detective had some pacing issues.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Marvel 1964 Overview


First Captain America vs Iron Man fight

We get our first face turn with Crimson Dynamo, and they start telegraphing Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch's face turn next year.

Our first faked death with Tony Stark, and our first scheduling snafu as this death is announced in Avengers a month before it happens in Tales of Suspense.

Copied plotlines

Both Mr. Fantastic and Spider-Man get sick within a month of each other - not part of a plot, just a regular flu, used only for dramatic purposes

In the same month, Cobra & Mr. Hyde and Dr. Strange use a technique to follow an image and trace it back to a location.

In the same month Mr Fantastic and Giant Man planned to propose & chicken out - Foggy does the same later in the year.

Giant-Man/Wasp and Spider-Man are both lured into a fake movie like the Fantastic Four was.

Secret Identities 

Asgardians in general know about Thor's alter ego as Don Blake.

Giant-Man's identity is discovered, but not for long thanks to Hank Pym's ethically questionable ability to mind wipe.

Bruce Banner is called "Bob" by mistake in FF 25, which eventually led to a string of multiple middle names


Loki uses it to hold prisoners, and Immortus travels in and out of it, but there is no unified field theory on it yet


I always thought the emphasis on Namor being a mutant was a 90s phenomena, but he and Thor both refer to Namor as a mutie.

The X-Man have a working relationship, to the point they can call each other.

We get two Beverly Hillbillies references (Aunt May and Ben Grimm).

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Series Showdown: Raker vs Mondo

It's Reagan era bigotry vs 70s street racism. Raker is killed instantly with an icepick up the rectum and Mondo keeps on truckin'.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Mondo by Anthony DeStefano

by Anthony DeStefano
1975 Manor Books

When we meet John Mondo he's alcoholic and homeless, living on the streets.  A former heist man in the Parker vein, the death of his child broke him. The torture murder of his estranged wife and his only friend lead him to a path of violent revenge.

Starts of strong before taking a turn to Vermont, of all places, to train in the martial arts with his Japanese master and generally futz around before a final showdown leads to an anti-climax.

The first third is pure 42nd Street grindhouse, but DeStefano couldn't maintain the pace throughout. Mondo is an interesting character as well - not a hero, not an anti-hero, he's consciously presented as a miserable human being whether he's a criminal, a bum, or a revenge junky. Also a racist, laying down as many n-bombs as you'd expect from a Sicilian gangster in the 70s.

The Asian elements are also starkly out of place, with Mondo clearly ignoring any spiritual advice his sensei tries to provide.

Mondo looks to be written as a one-shot with sequels later, especially as the book ends with Mondo dying on an operating table. He presumably survives for the next two installments.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Heavies: Larry Storch

 Larry Storch with his bourbon and professional "company" on Name of the Game

Heavies: Jim Backus

 An hallucinating Eric Estrada arrests a drunk Jim Backus.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Raker by Don Scott

by Don Scott (Lee Hays)
1982 Pinnacle

Between the slogan and the fact that the cover is designed like a Nazi propaganda poster, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a satire, or that the Aryan superman is the villain and the fox in a natural is our hero. Unfortunately, it's just bigoted.

Not just bigoted as a side product the way Rosenberger or Johnstone can be, it goes out of it's way to be bigoted, whether it be Black, Jewish, Asian, or gay. This is also a particular brand of cowardly, chickenpoop racism. He's got a Black buddy to show he isn't racist - not one of those street people, mind you, one who sounds educated.  I'm assuming since the narrator didn't describe Raker as sounding educated he was a kindergarten drop out.

It was done so deliberately to establish the character it felt either the author wanted you to know up front what a piece of work he was, or he figured this Men's Adventure genre is read by a bunch of Archie Bunker types so he better write to market.

It's hard to fairly judge the quality of the writing or story distinct from any moral considerations so I don't want to say for certain that this is the worst Men's Adventure story, but it's in the running.   

Raker is a generic freelance operative who works for a generic shadowy government agency. His mission - stop the Black Liberation Army's plot to murder White police officers.  Both the plot and the means of solving it are needlessly complicated, and these unnecessary complications compose the bulk of the wordage.

The BLA and their Jewish civil rights attorney partner use various social engineering and computer hacking techniques to get the duty rosters of various police agencies to determine which cops are White and what their beats are.  They call in a fake domestic violence call then ambush the cops in a shotgun attack.  When they could have just made the fake call and call of the ambush if both the cops weren't White.

Raker uses similar convoluted means to catch the assassins.  He guesses what city might be next, uses surreptitious methods to look at the duty rosters, listens in to the police band hoping to catch the fake call, and tries to rush out to to the scene before the police. He doesn't seek cooperation with the police because he figures they're busy.

Clumsy prose, bad story, not much action, though the descriptions of shotgun wounds are suitably lurid.

Paperback Warrior identifies the author as Lee Hays, who wrote novelizations including Columbo, Harry O, and Black Christmas.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Late 80s USA Network

The USA Network weekend lineup was the best thing to come out of the latter half of the 1980s. I can say without reservation it did more to shape my psyche than my church, school, family, or peers.  Starting at noon you had two horror movies as part of Commander USA's Groovie Movies.

While these tended more to the campy side, at 8 we had Saturday Nightmares with stronger stuff.


After the feature, there was an anthology show like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the Hitchhiker, and Ray Bradbury Theater.  Later still at 11 there were some psychotronic movies mixed in with music videos and shorts under the Night Flight banner.

This went on until 7 AM, though the example I looked at had the two movies repeated.  Then it was time for a five hour cartoon block on the Cartoon Express.

Next, an hour of WWF Wrestling, then Kung Fu Theater

At times there was another Commander USA - from memory, these didn't have original host segments, only generic bumpers, like the Commander USA Rap.

In just over a 24 hour period on July 5th, 1988, you could have watched:

The Man and the Monster
Simon, King of Witches
Alone in the Dark
Terror of Tiny Town
Killers From Space
Black List

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Heavies: Al Leong and Donald Li

 Al Leong and Donald Li in the Equalizer.  The two were also in Big Trouble in Little China and Rapid Fire.

Monday, May 3, 2021

AirZone - City Square Mall - Singapore

 Love seeing slides and cargo nets in the middle of spaces malls and airports. I want to see these elements worked in everywhere into everyday life.  Also, lazy rivers should be a form of public transportation.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Series Showdown: Vikings vs Slaves of the Empire

 Rome falls to barbarians from the north. The Vikings hack and slash their way to the next round.