Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the neglected Pulp Hero G-8. This is 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.
37. SKIES OF YELLOW DEATH (October 1936) – On August 14th, 1917, mere months after the United States entered the war on the side of the Allied Powers China entered the war on the side of the Central Powers. Enter the sinister Chinese genius Chu Lung, another recurring member of G-8’s Rogue’s Gallery of villains. This new foe held multiple doctorates from various universities, was a talented engineer and scientist and ran a vast mercantile empire bolstered by the equally vast smuggling network he commanded sub rosa.
Chu Lung is a huge fan favorite but I personally have never been that impressed with him. I find him to be too similar to Fu Manchu AND to Robert J Hogan’s own fictional creation from 1935, Wu Fang. Wu Fang, like Doctor Satan, starred in one of the short-lived Supervillain Pulps, in his case The Mysterious Wu Fang which lasted just seven issues. Many of Chu Lung’s appearances in G-8 and His Battle Aces read like what they probably were: leftover stories that Hogan had originally prepared for The Mysterious Wu Fang cannibalized and rewritten with a World War One setting and with Wu Fang renamed Chu Lung.
Which is not to say that Chu Lung’s battles with G-8 aren’t fun, it’s just that I find the deadly Chinaman to be overrated. This first clash between our hero and Chu Lung started with the latter’s warning that G-8 would be dead by midnight and featured the threat of the Chinese mastermind’s “Smart Missiles”, painted yellow as the title implies. At one point in this adventure Chu Lung trapped G-8 in his Death Room, which featured two walls ornamented with spikes. The walls would slowly move together, impaling and crushing anyone imprisoned in the room.
G-8 pumped three bullets into the regal Chinaman at story’s end and assumed he was dead, but Chu Lung would reappear frequently after this debut tale. G-8 himself would wind up hospitalized with pneumonia after landing in the frigid waters of the North Sea to save Bull Martin’s life.
38. DEATH RIDES THE CEILING (November 1936) – Doktor Krueger strikes again! This time around the little fiend has devised a series of gigantic magnets that literally drag allied planes from the skies. General Black Jack Pershing and the other Allied leaders don’t know the cause of the Bermuda Triangle- esque disappearances at first and send G-8, Bull and Nippy to get to the bottom of it all.
This is not one of the best Doktor Krueger stories but if it was a reader’s first exposure to the madman’s schemes it would no doubt get you hooked. It has death-traps, last-minute escapes, gunfights, dogfights and Krueger revealing his weapon’s secrets in the best Pulp Villain tradition. Throw in a bit with G-8 in disguise as an elderly German scrub maid and you’re good to go.
G-8 was shot in both arms at one point in this story and wound up hospitalized in Le Bourget. He had lost so much blood a transfusion was needed, prompting both Bull Martin and Nippy Weston to donate blood to save his life. Insert your own joke about how convenient it was that all three of them had the same blood type.
39. PATROL OF THE MAD (December 1936) – In this exciting adventure G-8 and his Battle Aces encounter a German villain who sports a serendipitously appropriate name – Herr Butscher. This Teutonic menace specializes in perverse and dangerous brain surgery, sort of like G-8’s Austrian foe Dr Mollfuss, but without Mollfuss’ accompanying fondness for human/ animal hybrids.
Herr Butscher was thrown out of med school before becoming an official doctor and his renegade experiments on unwilling human guinea pigs allowed him to stumble upon some very sinister results. Butscher’s master plan involves performing mind-altering brain surgery on Allied POW’s. The end result of this inhumane procedure is to induce time-released insanity in its victims.
Allied pilots are disappearing for weeks on end then returning, only to go mad and sabotage their old units. Once again it’s up to our heroes to confront and counter a demented plot that would enable the Central Powers to win the war! G-8’s lady love R-1 gets to kick some major butt in this story, going undercover as a nurse to guard an injured and unconscious G-8 from assassination attempts by Herr Butscher’s Patrol of the Mad. She even drags an unwilling Battle into action with her, teaching him how to use firearms on the fly.
I WILL BE EXAMINING MORE G-8 STORIES NEXT TIME!
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