Thursday, February 24, 2022

Dragon by William Schoell

by William Schoell
1989 Leisure

"grotesque reverse fellatio"

A widower photographer joins his jerk professor friend's expedition to El Lobo, an archeological site buried under a mile high mesa in the Southwest. Takes a 100 pages to get moving, but once it does it's non-stop monster carnage. Carnivorous slugs burst our of orifices, grow house sized, and destroy whole towns. Psychic assaults drive the characters to madness. I was afraid the titular dragon would a giant iguana cop-out as implied by the cover, but nope, we get a full blown, fire breathing, people eating dragon.

Had the feel that Schoell was just winging it, and later felt he had to explain things via a psychically delivered exposition dump. Also, it kept bothering me how there was a sense of massive scale, but had to shrink things back down to get the story moving.  The mesa is 5000 feet above the desert floor, and the interior catacombs dig deep under ground level, but we have characters (some elderly) popping back and forth four times the height of the Empire State Building.

Could have done with a trim of half the pages, but happy to see full blown monster attacks.

Available in kindle ebook and paperback from Amazon

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Series Showdown: Mondo vs The Killers

These two series are top contenders for the harshest of Men's Adventure, Mondo often for very wrong reasons. The Killers tops out in both brutality and richness of plot. The Killers shoot out Mondo's joints one by one with a luger before casually putting one in the brain.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Killers 1: To Win and To Lose by Klaus Nettson

The Killers 1
To Win and To Lose
by Klaus Nettson aka Klaus Netzen (Laurence James)
1974 Mayflower, Zebra

John Standish is a forger turned anti-Nazi operative who's a part of the Killers, a loose international network of anti-Nazi criminals. His mission is to introduce forged currency into occupied Poland and rescue a British operative, Leslie Peters, before he's forced to reveal intelligence to the Gestapo.

Standish and his assassin/painter colleague Marreq navigate through Nazi checkpoints, organize a raid of a Nazi detention center, and escape via France during the evacuation at Dunkirk. All the while dealing with Peters, who aside from being a competent organizer is a bigoted, whining, rapist swine.

The moral compass of the Killers series is skewed by the notion that smaller sins, like murdering innocents to avoid detection, are necessary to fight the ultimate evil of Nazi Germany. One could ponder the ethical implications, but here it's justification for an exploitation novel to essentially follow a gang of psychopaths as the heroes.

The violence is ugly and brutal. Knife fights slipping on the emptied bowels of a strangled sex worker. Body parts showering down after an explosion. Pleasure boats ankle deep in vomit from hundreds of evacuating soldiers. A man struggling to stay conscious long enough to empty his veins with a safety pin.

Good plotting and historical details keep the story moving, even if half the pages seem to involve hanging around safehouses.

Paperback from Amazon

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Marvel 1966

There are no changes to the title line up the entire year, and won't be until 1968. As of this year every hero who's ever had their own title are still regulars, the only previously cancelled titles being the Hulk (who joined Tales to Astonish) and Giant Man and the Wasp, who had left Astonish but rejoined the Avengers.

The Amazing Spider-Man


The "Cap's Kooky Quartet" era only lasted 11 issues, with Giant Man and Wasp rejoining mid-year and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch taking a vacation. The year starts with Kang goes downhill from there, with the likes of the Sons of the Serpent and the Living Laser. Giant-Man gets stuck at tall height for a while, but goes back to being able to control his height by the end of the year.


The year begins with Matt leaving Nelson and Murdock, but it doesn't take and he's back after introducing Kazar into the Marvel Universe. DD faces the Owl, the Ani-Men, Gladiator (twice), and the Masked Marauder (twice).


Jean goes to college, they end the year with new uniforms, Iceman and Beast get girlfriends. The teen mutants face Sentinels, Magneto, and Mimic (twice), a team of d-list baddies under Nefaria including Plantman and the Eel, and others who are even more no-name (Lucifer, Dominus, Locust). The Puppet Master is aware of their secret identities.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Series Showdown: Silverglass vs Imaro

Imaro is one of the finest of the genre, while Silverglass barely qualifies. Silverglass trips over the ropes and knocks herself out getting into the ring. Imaro is the chosen one for the finals.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Mondo 2: Cocaine Kill by Anthony DeStefano

Mondo 2
Cocaine Kill
by Anthony DeStefano
1977 Manor Books

We open in the hospital where Mondo died and is now recovering. He faces his attacker from the first installment, Chan Ho Lee, and after defeating him he follows the pan Asian triad/samurai code and agrees to finish Lee's last mission, to take out drug kingpin Jacque Ku Khan, though he only takes up the mission because he hopes some money will be involved.

Mondo operates through the underworld of New York, recruiting former colleagues and cellmates, shaking down prostitutes, and coming up with a half-baked plan to borrow enough money to pretend to be a big time drug dealer. The plan falls through and Mondo is captured, tortured, and shot up with heroin.

Mondo escapes, chains himself to a tree to kick the junk, and gathers his forces for a final attack, including the mad dog who will clearly double cross them and the retired boxer who is clearly going to die. Mondo faces off with Kahn's bodyguard Turk while the rest of the conflict resolves itself off-page.

The book is strongest in the depictions of the sleaze of the streets, the lowlight being the mob boss who got back at his cheating gal by forcing her to do a sex show before slitting her womb open with a machete, ripping out a fetus, and stomping it into the ground. The plot tends to run aground a bit, and the fight scenes weren't much.

The story itself is pure blaxploitation, and would have been better with a Black protagonist. The only second person pronouns used are racial slurs, which goes down a bit harder with an Italian lead.

There was no cocaine.

Paperback from Amazon

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Imaro 2: The Quest for Cush By Charles Saunders

Imaro 2
The Quest for Cush
By Charles Saunders
1984 Daw

Imaro, with his gal pal Tanisha and pygmy pal Pomphis head to the big city, where Imaro struggles to deal with laws, cops, and civilization. He fights a kung fu master in a pit fight, fights half stone golems, underground mutants, and a raiding party of fishmen.

Saunders gives a master class in having it both ways - Imaro's fighting spirit isn't always a strength, and Tanisha's compassion and Pomphis' diplomacy often forge a better way. Imaro learns that violence isn't always the answer, and even regrets his actions at times. Saunders shows you can express mature morality and still cut the heads off monsters.

He even has fun with the Chosen One cliché  - Imaro is destined to play a vital part in an oncoming conflict, but in the meantime he needs to get a job.

Note that the ebook versions had different cut offs - I read the paperback and missed a scene that originally in the first installment.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Hongya Cave, Chongqing China

The Hongya Cave shopping area is a large stilt style building on the edge of a cliff, where the first and eleventh floor are both at street level. Looks like restaurants and market stalls, but there are also huge areas with anime cyberpunk theming that I can't tell what it's for, my only guess that most of the spaces are vacant.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Series Showdown: The Crow vs Alien Nation

The Crow delivered by the end, but Alien Nation wins through consistency. Alien Nation delivers the death blow to the Crow's armpits.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Silverglass 2: Web of Wind by J.F. Rivkin

Silverglass 2
Web of Wind
by J.F. Rivkin
1987 Ace

Corson the barbarian and Nyctasia the sorceress start off in a tavern, as one does, and end up in jail, hooking up with a thief. Instead of completing the party with a paladin or druid, they ditch the thief and spend two thirds of the book milling around with Nyc's rich family. Page after page of talking about titles and manners and how the vineyard's crop is this year.

As with the first book, all the characters are casually bisexual and non-monogamist, able to pine for their true love while hopping into to bed with whoever strikes their fancy. Despite this open attitude, and the open neckline on the cover, this book is entirely sexless. It doesn't even fade to black, we just have people getting out of bed in the morning and we just assume. I think someone's shoulder gets kissed, is as hot as things get. No real romance to speak of either, no relationships getting advanced, or even much flirting.

After a while, a long while, a story gets started, and things go from Jane Austen to Nancy Drew. The gang dig around caves looking for a buried treasure, and we get the bare minimum of an action scene before things wrap up. 

I imagine there's an audience for this kind of thing and I'm clearly not it. Nyctasia casts a light spell for a few seconds and Corson throws a dagger, almost mockingly doing the bare minimum to be put on the shelf in the fantasy section. Rivkin can't be blamed for the branding, but if you're going in expecting something like the similarly cleavage covered Raven series, you'll be disappointed.

Kindle ebook, paperback, and audible audiobook from Amazon