Thursday, November 26, 2015


By Ian Thomas Healy
Local Hero Press LLC
350 pages

For the past three years, Colorado based writer Ian Thomas Healy has been writing some of the most entertaining superhero fiction on the market today. This subgenre of fantasy adventure is about bringing spandex wearing comicbook characters to the world of prose fiction. It is a growing field in literature today with a half-dozen notable New Pulp writers thriving in it; names like Van Plexico, Lee Houston Jr. and Nick Ahlhelm spring immediately to mind. Considering the amount of world-building that went into this novel, we’re amazed this book (series) doesn’t have a much larger following.  It deserves to.

“Just Cause,” billed as the first in the series, actually begins in the middle of the saga, in 2012, when Salena Thompson joins the premier superhero team, Just Cause, as their newest intern after having graduated from the renowned Hero Academy.  A third generation speedster, she calls herself Mustang Sally and is overwhelmed by how fast her life is moving, much like her own super-speed abilities. Both Sally’s mother, Faith, and grandmother, possessed similar powers and fought with previous teams dating back to World War II when metahumans first appeared.

Mustang Sally, as the protagonist, is our entry into this amazing world, and through her eyes we discover the rich and complex history of superheroes, and their villainous counterparts.  Sally’s father was killed weeks before she was born by a twisted scientific genius known as the Destroyer who continues to be Just Cause’s greatest adversary. Sally’s secret wish is to find him and have her revenge. But before she can do that, she must prove herself to the Just Cause which is led by the brilliant, but conservative Juice, whose powers to produce electric charges make him a formidable warrior.

Along the way Sally makes close friends with a Sondra Eagle, the winged Native American known as Desert Eagle and falls madly in love with Jason, the super strong young rock musician called Mastiff. All the while getting to know the other members of the team and learning to adjust to her new role as an adult superhero. Thus the book is really a coming-of-age tale decked out in a flashy superhero garment and it is to Healy’s credit as a writer, that his characterization of Sally and the others is as skillful as his ability to convey action sequences. For in the end, if we don’t believe Salena, the na├»ve, eager, loyal and courageous young woman then there is no empathizing with Mustang Sally.

“Just Cause” is a pure delight from cover to cover.  This edition is a heavily revised and expanded version. It is a most welcomed addition to our library and we recommend it highly.  If you grew up with your nose buried in Marvel and DC comics, as we did, then you are going to love “Just Cause.”  And as Mr. Stan Lee would say, “Nuff said.”

Thursday, November 05, 2015


By Edgar Rice Burroughs
(A graphic novel)
Editor Patrick Thorpe
Sequential Pulps &
Dark Horse Books

Since we first heard of this project, we were excited to see it come to fruition. The idea was simple enough, take Burrough’s own book, which relates the adventures of a young Tarzan in a collection of short stories and have them adapted to comic strips by various artists. Michael Hudson of Sequential Pulps was the driving force behind this super cool idea and he enlisted the talented Martin Powell to adapt those tales into comic scripts. Then it was a matter of recruiting the right artist for each segment.

Daren Bader’s cover art is simply stunning in both composition and execution. It sets a very high bar for the interior artists, some of whom proved to be its equal while others fall a bit short. The nature of any anthology is in the end a subjective experience between individual creators and their audience. Thus, of the twelve strips assembled here, there were some that simply bowled us over and we’d like to single them out as they were truly exceptional.

If we had to pick a favorite, it would be a tie between “Tarzan and the Native Boy” from Nik Poliwko and “The Nightmare” by Mark Wheatley. In the first, Poliwko ssems to be channeling the late/great Russ Manning. As a comic lover who grew up reading Manning’s Tarzan comics from Dell, this strip was a loving trip home. Whereas Wheatley’s style of art was perfectly suited to a tale about what is real and unreal, his colors blending in perfectly to add the proper mood. We’ve yet to see a bad piece of Wheatley art and have to believe none exist.

We’d also like to applaud artists Lowell Isaac, Will Meugniot, Terry Beatty who all turned in inspired work. Whereas we found Jamie Chase’s style moody and Steven Gordon’s cartoony, both worked beautifully with their stories.  Each is a joy to read and we truly appreciated the wonderful artwork on displaye in these pages.

As we indicated above, this is an amazing collection and will please any true Tarzan fan. One can only imagine the logistic chores of corralling all these various talents and pulling such a project together.  A tip of the pulp hat to Diane Leto for making it all come together.  This is a beautiful book we are happy to have in our library.

Sunday, November 01, 2015


An Infernum Novella
By Percival Constantine
Nifty Entertainment
139 pages

“Gentleman Rogue” is the third in a series about a shadowy spy organization and the mysterious man who operates, Dante.  The first was a mixed bag called “Love and Bullets” which evidenced the potential Constantine had as a writer.  With the second, “Outlaw Blues,” that promise was realized and now with this latest entry, he lets loose with a wonderful, sophisticated heist caper that hits all the classic beats readers expect from this genre.

The fun here is his protagonist Dalton Moore, a former British Spy turned thief who has left his past behind and adopted a humanitarian code of ethics wherein he does not kill; even his worst enemies. Not that easy an oath to maintain when being chased around the globe by some of the deadliest assassins in the world.  A criminal mastermind named Johnny Venom has obtained a drug that turns people into mindless savages and is about to auction it off to the international terrorist organizations.  Dante wants Dalton to steal the drug, called Fury, and deliver it to him. He manipulates Dalton by offering to tell him where his missing father is being imprisoned and upon the delivery of Fury, Dante says he will free the old man. Dalton reluctantly accepts the deal.

But as ever there are always wrinkles in these spy missions.  For Dalton it is being saddled with the sexy but deadly Tauna, one of Dante’s personal lieutenants. Dalton is none to happy to have her shadowing his every move.  Of course the bad guys are no slouches either when it comes to gathering intel and soon Dalton and Tauna learn that Venom has dispatched the silent assassin Vincente to find and dispose of them.
All the while, it becomes clear to Dalton that someone, either in his own camp, or Dante’s group, has sold them out; they have a traitor in their midst.

Part heist, part chase and totally one hundred percent action packed, “Gentlemen Rogue” is gem of a read.  Dalton Moore and Tauna are likeable characters and Constantine would be wise to bring them back soon.  As for the Infernum series as a whole, each new chapter is better than the last.  Thus you have to believe this reviewer is now most anxious for volume four.

Monday, October 26, 2015


By Robert F. Dorr
ISBN # 978-0-9863200-0-2
292 pages

The fun of any new pulp adventure is you never know exactly what you are going to get. Oh, sure, you can make a few educated guesses based on your knowledge of the author’s history and the book’s theme, but that’s still pretty much surface data. It doesn’t really delve deep enough to reveal anything of significance until you start reading. That being said, you can imagine my curiosity in picking up something called, “Hitler’s Time Machine.” Some assumptions leapt immediately mind; it being a sci-fi thriller set against the backdrop of World War II.

Robert F. Door is an Air Force vet and one-time diplomat. He has written several military history books. “Hitler’s Time Machine” is his first fiction title and I’m delighted to say he hits a home run his first time at bat. Within just a few chapters, I was hooked. Long before the advent of World War II, a German sniper arrives on Campobello Island. He has traveled from the future to injure the famous inhabitant of that little island off the Canadian coast, Franklin D. Roosevelt. From that opening sequence the narrative takes of like a V-2 rocket, pulling the reader along for a wild, crazy adventure wherein both the U.S. and Germans simultaneously begin experimenting with time travel as another way of fighting the war.

In the states, the program is led by a tenacious, brilliant young woman named Barbara Stafford, while in Germany, her counterpart is Prof. Kimmler, one of the men tasked with creating the Holocaust death camps. While Barbara struggles to deal with the overt sexism of the 40s, Kimmler is caught up in playing political games between the Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler, and one of his most trusted advisors and chief off the SS, Heinrich Himmler. Throughout the story, Dorr brilliantly mixes real history with his fictional narrative weaving them into a seamless tapestry that in the end had this reader wondering if the events in this book didn’t actually happen. That’s how good a writer he is.

In fact, it is this attention to historical detail that makes “Hitler’s Time Machine” so fascinating. Unlike the majority of overly verbose thriller writers today, Dorr’s exposition is sparse and to the point. He doesn’t waste words but creates quick scalpel sharp scenes that built upon each other to reach a suspense filled climax.  Ever wonder what kind of science-fiction Tom Clancy might have written? Look not further than “Hitler’s Time Machine.”

Friday, October 16, 2015


By Davide Mana
Acheron Books
340 pages

Shanghai in 1936 is overrun by foreign agents all vying to align themselves with various political factions they believe will survive the coming global conflict and emerge victorious.  Amidst this cauldron of intrigue and espionage, Italian mercenary pilot Felice Sabatini finds himself caught up in a bizarre expedition that will lead to mysterious peeks of Tibet in search of an ancient artifact that could easily tilt the balance of power to whoever possesses it.

Guiding him along this dangerous quest is a beautiful Asian femme-fatale with the anglicized name of Pat Neal. Their enemy is a blonde German vixen who commands a giant black airship with a Nazi swastika painted on its hull. Along the way, Sabatini and Neal confront both human and magical advisories to include a group of Ninja like monks, Japanese agents, a three-eyed demon and talking green dogs. Author Mana has crammed more fantasy adventure in this one pulp tale than we’d normally find twice as many.

“The Ministry of Thunder,” is a rollicking tongue-in-cheek over-the-top pulp winner that completely won me over within its first few chapters. It’s Indiana Jones meets Bill Barnes with a touch of Kung-Fu thrown in to spice things up.  It is the first Davide Mana book we’ve read and we certainly hope not the last.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

BANARAK - Storming the Gates.

BANARAK – Storming the Gates
By Van Allen Plexico
White Rocket Books and
243 pages

This is as yet another action packed adventure taking place in the fictional sci-fi mythology created by Van Allen Plexico call The Shattering. In this mythos, mankind exists in a universe made up of three distinct level of reality; the Above, where dwell gods with amazing powers, the Middle (or for want of a better term, our own universe) made up of we mere mortals and lastly the Below, home to assorted demons and other monstrous creatures. In his galaxy spanning saga, most of the drama results from unexpected interactions between these three levels which tend to lead to cataclysmic results.

In one of Plexico’s first books, “Lucien – Dark God’s Homecoming,” we were given a glimpse of this universe long after the old god’s from the Above had been vanquished via an act of betrayal amongst one of their owns. Then, in subsequent titles, Plexico opted to move around to other parts of his mythos and chose to weave stories that for the most part happened in his imagined future. Now, with “Banarak – Storming the Gates,” he takes back in time and spins the fantastic story of the actual birth of the Above gods.

The setup is quickly related. In the distant future mankind has launched itself into space hoping to find new worlds to colonize and guarantee the continuation of our species. Almost immediately star-gates are discovered at various points in space which allow us to leap front across the galaxies and soon seven worlds are settled and a burgeoning Empire of Man is about to be established. But just as quickly as the gates were found, they suddenly, without warning, cease functioning and thus seven separate human planets learn they must forge on independent of the others. Thus seven different cultures continue to evolve over the next few decades, each establishing its own unique identity. The only single unifying tradition to remain viable on all seven isolated empires is their common religion; the Church of the Seven Stars.

Then, just as mysteriously as they stopped functioning, the star-gates are reactivated by forces unknown.  On the human world of Majondra, the military commander Constantine Baranak devises a plan to use the gates to invade and conquer the other six empires thus establishing one cohesive galaxy spanning regime. Aiding him in this audacious scheme are his siblings and his son, Gaius, who also serves as Constantine’s military aide. On the eve of this stellar invasion, Constantine is betrayed and assassinated by a high priest of the church at the same time Majondra comes under attack by a rival empire. It is left to Gaius to fathom how his father’s bold scheme was discovered and who amongst the royal family betrayed them.

One of Plexico’s hallmarks is the breakneck speed at which he propels his plot never allowing his reader a moment’s respite as his protagonist is plunged into one amazing adventure after another. He creates unique, alien allies and foes that confront Gaius at every turn until in the end; his family’s very survival depends on his keen insights into both their various natures. Dealing with cosmic forces beyond understanding, Constantine’s son must gamble with the fate of his people to either achieve a bold new future or fail and watch them totally destroyed.  “BANARAK – Storming the Gates,” is a space opera thrill ride that never disappoints.  If you have never a Van Allen Plexico space adventure, this is clearly the place to start.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

HILO - The Boy Who Crashed To Earth

The Boy Who Crashed To Earth
By Judd Winick
Random House Children’s Books
193 pages

What we have with this charming, wonderfully illustrated hardback book is a marriage between traditional children’s books and your standard graphic novel.  Formatted like a comic but capturing the essence of a children’s book intended to amuse, enlighten and teach all in a colorful, fantastic, exuberant story.  “HILO – The Boy Who Crashed To Earth,” marvelously captures the joy of childhood complete with its fears, innocence and abounding sense of wonder.

As a child, we truly believe anything is possible, including the fanciful premise of this tale; a strange boy from another world falls out of the sky and instantly ingratiates himself with two earth kids quickly becoming their new remarkable friend.

You would think HILO is the main character in this sci-fi kids’ adventure but not true. The real star of the story is young Daniel Jackson Lim, better known to his family and friends as D.J.  He’s one of five children and believes he is the only one without any special talents.  His brothers and sisters all excel in either sports or academics but not poor D.J.  He’s just an average boy and that lack of self-worth bothers him terribly.
It is only when he meets the “Boy Who Crashed To Earth,” that D.J. is thrust into having to exceed his own expectations that he is forced to reevaluate his true self and therein discovers own, unique gifts.

We cannot recommend this book highly enough.  The story and art are superb and will delight both young and old readers alike. For you parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, we cannot imagine any young boy or girl not being thrilled to have a copy.  And yes, the book is available from Amazon.  Get it now!  You can thank us later.