New video: Doc Savage

From the MARDL YouTube channel, a new hero-pulp essay from yours truly:

Published in: on June 28, 2008 at 10:36 pm  Comments (3)  

New video: The Phantom Detective

From the MARDL YouTube channel, the second hero-pulp video essay:

Published in: on June 24, 2008 at 5:31 pm  Comments (4)  

New video: The Shadow

From the Youtube MARDL channel, a brief history of The Shadow. It’s the first of my hero pulp video essays.

Published in: on June 17, 2008 at 2:00 pm  Comments (8)  

“Shut up, Ayres!”

It’s been a while since I reveiwed any pulps that I’ve been reading here, and I’ve read plenty since. I’ve read my first Black Bat, and found him a very cool precursor to both Batman and Daredevil, as well as my first Ki-Gor (what an unwieldy name), and found it more enjoyable than I thought.

I also experienced a character called The Crimson Mask- or at least tried to. I should have heeded the warnings I found online about this guy… his story was like vanilla ice-cream… left in the sun for a day. The Crimson Mask is basically a pharmacist who started crime-fighting to avenge his father’s death. His name comes from… his mask. A simple, Lone Ranger-type red mask that was supposed to instill fear in criminals.

Look Mr. pharmacist/vigilante, if a brightly colored dime-store mask scares criminals, then there’s really no point in you fighting them. Sit back and wait for them to shoot themselves by accident instead while you stock the Preparation-H and the Tinactin.

Anyway, after being burned by that fool, I was in the mood to read some good ol’ aviation stuff, and bought a few reprints of “Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds”.

The concept is basically what would’ve happened had G-8 or Bill Barnes gotten into a bar fight with Operator 5 in the pages of “Amazing Stories”. And really, if those references are over your head, you really need to Google more pulp stuff right away.

The “Ayres” issue I read was the first one: “Black Lightning” from July of 1934. Basically, the world is in peril at the hands of a mysterious conquerer called “Fire Eyes”. After rallying all of southeast Asia to his cause his forces swept across Europe, downing anything in their path. Next, of course, Fire Eyes and his “Black Invaders” set their sights on the good ol’ U.S. of A.

And so we are introduced to the Dusty Ayres universe, a panic-choked place, (somwhat) eerily prescient of the coming second World War. The titular airman (from an air force “High Speed group”) gets his marching orders at the beginning of the story: Fire Eyes’ invaders are on their way, though their attack strategy is unclear, and America’s military communications are being jammed somehow. It’s up to Ayres and his plane “The Silver Flash” (apparently the fastest fighter plane in the U.S.’s arsenal) to deliver battle plans around the country. However, things get sidetracked and interesting quickly, as the Black Invaders’ #1 air ace The Black Hawk sets his sights on Dusty.

The entire story is frantic, with a lot of flying around at high speeds, orders being barked, and fears of invaders being flung around in a panic. It’s not that bad, really, although it is a bit dated. It doesn’t seem to have that “timeless” quality that a lot of the classic pulps have that let’s them hold up today. There’s a bit of xenophobia here (at one point, there’s a comment about “lax immigration laws” being to blame for foreign spies in the country). There’s also a bit of antiquated aeronautics in there that bug me, too. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that no matter how powerful the engine, a biplane like The Silver Flash could not out-maneuver a mono-winged fighter plane like the ones the Black Invaders flew. But maybe that’s just nitpicking.

Also, something that bothered me was the lack of explaination of what was portrayed inside the enemy-base. When Dusty is captured and kept prisoner in a Black base in Canada (damn sneaky Canucks!), he sees rows and rows of radio operators that look very peculiar. Not sure if they’re genetic mutations or what (hopefully not unfortunately exagerated asians), but we’re led to believe they have an interesting story… that we don’t get any of.

Also, on an interesting side note: Dusty gets told to “Shut up!” by at least 4 of his superiors in this story. I don’t think I’ve ever read ANY pulps where the hero gets told to shut up.

Overall, it’s an interesting artifact of pre-WWII pulp lore. Spies, sci-fi, air-action… and mole-men. Good stuff.

Published in: on June 12, 2008 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  


Sorry it’s been a while since my last post.

Yesterday (June 4th) was my 34th birthday. It started off rocky: I only got about an hour and a half worth of sleep the night before and I was pretty bleary-eyed and listless for the first part of the day. But it ended up being a great day, and it had nothing to do with presents or special lunches or dinners (although those were had too).

No, it was a great day because my wife made it so. Something about the day was just so perfect, so magical. It’s hard to describe but it felt good… it’s been a long time since I had a day that was just so… right. I owe it all to her and her love and patience.

Thank you, Annie. I love you.

Published in: on June 5, 2008 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment