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.
A Hindu priest named Mukja sets out to crush the Allied forces. Like G-8’s earlier foe Lakurji, Mukja wants the hated British Empire out of India and has concocted a flying version of Hindu lore’s Juggernaut as his people’s secret weapon. He’s also conjured up an army of snakes.
In this story G-8 has to use his influence with General Black Jack Pershing to get one pompous Colonel Green to go along with his (G-8’s) improvised plans to avert disaster. All this plus Battle getting to share the spotlight again and Central Powers pilots using Mukja’s army of king cobras against Allied pilots in a dangerous – yet silly – example of dirty tactics.
23. THE HEADLESS STAFFEL (August 1935) – The Allied spy code-named J-7 was slain while transmitting a message about a new Top Secret weapon. Not only that but G-8’s latest villain – the Wizard – has demanded the immediate surrender of the Allied Powers to the Central Powers or else he will unleash horrors beyond imagining. The hunchbacked Wizard was part of a Swiss circus before branching out to the supervillain field.
Naturally G-8, Bull and Nippy take to the skies to get to the bottom of things. Amid the usual dogfights, fistfights and shootouts our heroes eventually learn the macabre and mind-numbing secret behind the Wizard’s machinations. That secret: a super-acid and a legion of headless soldiers controlled en masse by the Wizard himself, who does the thinking for them. With no individual faults or weaknesses the shambling menaces will obediently drive their way into the Allied lines killing everyone in their path.
The headless zombies even serve as gunners in the aeriel squadrons clashing with the Allied pilots in a tableau that is nightmarish yet absurd in the best tradition of nonsensical and over-the-top Pulp magazine menaces. When the Wizard baits a trap for G-8 our hero decides the best way to defeat the scoundrel is to suicidally play along and hope for an opportunity to turn the tables. With the rampant zombiemania of recent years this should be a much better-known story!
24. STAFFEL OF BEASTS (September 1935) – The cover of this enjoyable tale redefines “Flying Tigers” for you! As for the actual story: all along the Allied lines soldiers are being struck blind by the dozens. Enigmatically tied in with this new threat is a super-scientific plot that staggers the imagination … of anyone who has never read a G-8 story before.
Austria’s nefarious Dr Mollfuss has returned for another clash with G-8 and his Battle Aces and is the man behind the super-scientific plot. Once again Mollfuss combines his expertise at brain surgery and vivisection in a way even H.G. Wells’ Dr Moreau would have deemed bizarre. Using the heads of the decapitated zombies from The Headless Staffel (hey, “waste not want not” and all that) the good doctor is creating intelligent beast-men who are basically large predatory animals with human faces and/or heads. Think of the man-headed dog in The Mephisto Waltz to get an idea.
When a wounded G-8 is turned over to Dr Mollfuss’ hospital our hero is in danger of having his own head transplanted on to one of the dastardly villain’s menagerie of dangerous beasts. It’s up to our hero’s lady love R-1 plus Nippy Weston and Bull Martin to save G-8, but will they have to defeat a bestial creature with their good friend’s face as part of the mission? Find out!
I WILL BE EXAMINING MORE G-8 STORIES NEXT TIME!
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