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 spy/ nurse whose real name, like G-8’s was never revealed.
40. SCOURGE OF THE STEEL MASK (January 1937) – AT LAST! THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF STEEL MASK, DOKTOR KRUEGER’S ONE TRUE RIVAL AS THE FANS’ FAVORITE ADVERSARY OF G-8! Decades before Dr Doom and Darth Vader Steel Mask was a supervillain who hid his horribly scarred face behind a metallic mask.
Steel Mask suffered his facial disfigurement in the explosive inferno that was unleashed when G-8 shot down a German Zeppelin he was traveling in as one of the passengers. The now-amnesiac German has lost his entire past and his only reality is his intense hatred of the American pilot who wiped out his memories and destroyed his face. Steel Mask will return again and again, designing military hardware intended to win the war and kill G-8, not necessarily in that order.
This first adventure featuring the deadly German finds him taking to the skies in an observation balloon sporting a black cross logo. Steel Mask’s secret weapon this time is a ray-gun that disables the engines of any Allied planes unfortunate enough to cross his path. Not only that but Steel Mask has his thugs torture G-8’s manservant Battle – nearly killing him! It’s very personal this time as G-8 clashes with a foe whose physical prowess matches his own and whose intellect rivals Doktor Krueger’s!
41. PATROL OF THE MURDER MASTERS (February 1937) – Doktor Krueger is back! Thanks to his own genius his paralysis has been cured and he no longer requires constant transfusions from unwilling blood donors. The story opens with Krueger exercising to get his restored body used to being mobile for the first time in months.
The little fiend then demonstrates his latest invention for the German Brass – chemicals which serve as artificial cloud generators. Central Powers aircraft can hide behind those clouds. Krueger plans on ultimately having a concealed Zeppelin drop a super-bomb on Paris and, unfortunately for G-8, Bull and Nippy the little madman is not their only worry. Steel Mask strikes again with a deadly band called the Murder Masters, the most lethal assassins he could recruit from the various nations of the Central Powers.
But does the hate-filled Steel Mask have his own secret agenda? Is he truly working in unison with Doktor Krueger or does he plan on exploiting Krueger’s machinations for his own purposes? Just to survive will Doktor Krueger be forced to consider the unthinkable – a temporary alliance with his archenemy G-8 against the vile Steel Mask? Find out!
42. FANGS OF THE SKY LEOPARD (March 1937) – For the second time readers get treated to a crossover story between G-8 and his Battle Aces and Robert J Hogan’s other flying ace Pulp Hero – the Red Falcon! This issue also featured a memorable oddity for Pulp collectors: though the cover says Fangs of the Sky Leopard the first page of the tale gives the title as Fangs of the Sky Leopards – plural.
At any rate G-8, Bull and Nippy team up with the Red Falcon and his sidekick Sika to battle a deadly new menace – the Leopard Men! These bizarre foes have been using their claws to slash and destroy Allied pilots and soldiers – then sending back threats written in the blood of their victims! Those threats warn the Allies that the best and bravest of their men will all die first: an assault on the morale as well as the bodies of the men in the field.
Though the Leopard Men sound like they’d be another group of animal men created by G-8’s Austrian foe Dr Mollfuss they instead are just men in specially-designed leopard-skin outfits. And those outfits come complete with sharp and nearly-indestructible claws, bub! Are the Leopard Men the best they are at what they do or does that distinction still belong to our heroes?
I WILL BE EXAMINING MORE G-8 STORIES NEXT TIME!
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