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.
16. THE X-RAY EYE (January 1935) – Add another mad scientist to the pile of G-8’s Rogue’s Gallery of villains! This story features our hero and his faithful sidekicks going up against Dr Gurnig, another Teutonic terror of the technical sciences. Dr Gurnig has created a HUGE remote- controlled flying head-like object with a single eye that shoots highly concentrated X-Rays. Those X-Rays pass through a specially designed prism that amps up their power like lasers do with light, so maybe the concentrated X-Rays could be jokingly called “xasers”.
At any rate the flying X-Ray Eye wreaks havoc on Allied planes, blasting away the pilot’s flesh and clothing, leaving nothing behind but a skeleton. The planes flown by said pilots are also destroyed, being reduced to the wood and/or metal skeletal frames under their surfaces. After several Allied pilots meet their doom because of this airborne menace G-8 and his Battle Aces struggle to survive their own dogfights with the X-Ray Eye and to destroy it before Dr Gurnig’s plans change the course of the war!
17. SQUADRON OF THE SCORPION (February 1935) – Technically Dynamite Cargo, G-8’s crossover story with Hogan’s other Pulp hero the Red Falcon came next but I’ll cover the crossover stories separately in the future. Squadron of the Scorpion is one of the most fondly remembered G-8 stories of them all and for plenty of good reasons! Even among casual Pulp fans if they’ve only heard of one G-8 tale THIS is the one they’ve heard of.
Sengal the Astrologer does his bit to help the Fatherland and its allies win the war in this classic adventure. Sengal does that by managing an alliance between the Central Powers and … the planet Mars! A Martian representative (a Scorpio according to Sengal) comes to the Earth and oversees distribution of advanced Martian technology to the German fighter planes and tanks.
Astrology is the “religion” of the Martians and so in conjunction with Sengal the Astrologer the Martian’s “Zodiac Staffel” only goes forth when the stars say it is propitious. Whenever they do go forth they rout all who stand against them. With the super-scientific weaponry crushing the Allies on every front it’s up to G-8, Bull and Nippy to save the day.
The Martian’s attire seems to have been the inspiration for the outfit worn by the Warner Brothers cartoon character Marvin the Martian right down to the bristle-combed helmet. Among those G-8 fans who are as devoted as Trekkies an “unofficial” backstory has developed that Martian technology provided the basis for some of the over-the- top scientific menaces the Central Powers unleash in future stories.
18. THE DEATH MONSTERS (March 1935) – Doktor Krueger is finally back! At last we learn that the madman did not die in his last encounter with our heroes but was instead partially paralyzed. This is the first appearance of Krueger being carried around in a divan by German soldiers. Because of the various setbacks suffered at the hands of G-8 the Central Powers are finding themselves desperately short of men.
Krueger has devised the perfect solution: mechanical monstrosities that will take the place of men in the front lines. The good doctor sends forth plenty of his Death Monsters, tentacled robot constructs that are immune to all manner of artillery and even to fire. Meanwhile their tentacles destroy every Allied soldier they touch and can rend apart the most powerful tanks.
After initial battles with the latest creations of his archenemy G-8 flies behind enemy lines in a desperate attempt to find if there is any weakness in Krueger’s Death Monsters. He learns the one way the robotic menaces can be destroyed but is left with no plane and must face countless perils and a mad dash across No Man’s Land to try to get word back to his superiors.
I WILL BE EXAMINING MORE G-8 STORIES NEXT TIME!
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