Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the neglected Pulp Hero G-8. This continues a story-by- story look at the adventures of this World War One American fighter pilot who – along with his two wingmen the Battle Aces – took on various supernatural and super- scientific menaces thrown at the Allied Powers by the Central Powers of Germany, Austria- Hungary and the Ottoman Muslim Turks.
G-8 was created by Robert J Hogan in 1933 when World War One was still being called simply the World War or the Great War. Over the next eleven years Hogan wrote 110 stories featuring the adventures of G-8, the street-smart pug Nippy Weston and the brawny giant Bull Martin. The regular cast was rounded out by our hero’s archenemy Doktor Krueger, by Battle, G-8’s British manservant and by our hero’s girlfriend R-1: an American nurse/ spy whose real name, like G-8’s was never revealed. G-8’s war-time pulp adventures were a clear influence on the Timely Comics (later Marvel Comics) character Captain America.
13. THE SPIDER STAFFEL (October 1934) – When the Central Powers feel that the Allied bombers are inflicting too much damage they make plans for a counter-strategy. With the bombers accompanied and protected by capable fighter pilots like G-8 and his Battle Aces the answer is obvious: use a gigantic tarantula to cast webs across the skies to snare Allied planes and thus destroy bombers and fighters alike.
The enormous spider does its job well and G-8 witnesses several pilots and planes being devoured by the monstrosity. Will our heroes be able to destroy this new horror and spare their comrades from a ghastly death at the hands of the web-spinning weapon of the Central Powers? Of course they will but getting there is half the fun with the usual dogfights, fistfights, gunfights and last-minute escapes!
14. THE MAD DOG SQUADRON (November 1934) – This story presents another colorful foe for G-8 in the form of the enigmatic Mr Guerta, an American traitor who has defected to the Central Powers and is working with them on perfecting biological weapons. Guerta is very intelligent and impeccably mannered, his treachery and tendency toward homicidal creations notwithstanding.
Working with dog saliva Guerta has perfected a Mad Dog Virus that acts almost like airborne rabies and he arranges for front-line Allied troops to be exposed to this bio-weapon. The men go mad, driven wild with thirst and paranoia. As they die slowly and horribly from the Mad Dog Virus they are often driven to kill their comrades in fits of insanity.
G-8, Nippy Weston and Bull Martin must penetrate Guerta’s setup, obtain a cure and destroy their foe’s supply of Mad Dog Virus. Marshall Foch and General Pershing show up to keep us World War One geeks entertained. Even G-8’s manservant Battle gets pressed into action in this thrilling adventure.
15. THE BLIZZARD STAFFEL (December 1934) – A severe winter storm has grounded planes from both the Allied Powers and the Central Powers. This state of affairs lets us see Battle Ace Nippy Weston putting on a magic act to entertain his fellow restless pilots. The weather also foils the aerial escape plans of a German spy code-named the Falcon. This spy, called Herr Von Stoll in the story but never referred to by his first name, has murdered an American pilot and stolen the plans for an upcoming Allied attack.
This earthbound tale plays out as an exciting espionage actioner as G-8, his girlfriend R-1, Nippy and Bull wind up in a running battle with the Falcon and deep cover German spies throughout a snowy Paris. The Falcon is so skilled an adversary he penetrates all the way to the office of General “Black Jack” Pershing himself! There’s even a showdown between G-8 and the Falcon in the catacombs beneath Paris where Von Stoll’s thugs overcome G-8 and leave him for a pack of rats to devour. (As all G-8 fans know rats were to our hero what snakes were to Indiana Jones.)
The Falcon is depicted so sympathetically that he even defects to the Allies at the end and is taken off to England to be held and debriefed at story’s end. Unfortunately this was the only appearance of the fascinating Herr Von Stoll.
I WILL BE EXAMINING MORE G-8 STORIES NEXT TIME!
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