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.
61. THE CONDOR RIDES WITH DEATH (October 1938) – Introducing the Condor, a brand-new villain for G-8 and his Battle Aces. The Condor – in reality Hapsburg Austrian Prince Bruno – is a flying ace for the Central Powers and his skill at espionage and aerial combat rivals that of G-8 himself.
This airborne foe owns a castle with a customized version of an ancient catapult device which fires artillery that can wipe out opposition planes with one hit.
The Condor and his spies successfully kidnap G-8 from Le Bourget Field in the dead of night and fly off with him. In a castle behind German lines the Condor uses a lethal injection of poison to execute our hero in front of a VIP audience including military and royal dignitaries from all the Central Powers.
Under orders from Kaiser Wilhelm G-8’s corpse is paraded via train to show the world he is really dead. Bull Martin and Nippy Weston pull off an aerial commando raid that retrieves G-8’s body for burial in America but learn their old friend was just in a comatose state from Prince Bruno’s exotic poison.
This adventure doesn’t carry with it the usual Earth-shaking perils but it does provide a nice aerial warfare tableau that is refreshingly stream-lined. As a back-up story this issue featured a heavily edited version of the very first G-8 story The Bat Staffel.
62. THE FLYING COFFINS OF THE DAMNED (November 1938) – The debut of Abdul Saad, an Egyptian Muslim who, like some of G-8’s previous Egyptian foes, wants his country to rejoin the Ottoman Muslim Empire.
To that end he, too, has allied himself with the Central Powers. That old Pulp magazine tradition of repetitious storylines strikes again as Abdul Saad has perfected a liquid that transforms men into living mummies. Okay, the mummy-men created by the Ring of Cleopatra way back in Patrol of the Dead were, after all – dead – so Abdul Saad’s army of mummies is at least a LITTLE different.
Anyway, no doubt stifling a yawn from the sheer familiarity of it all G-8, Bull and Nippy go into action to thwart Saad’s bandaged badasses. We get to see G-8’s hand-to-hand combat skills shine again in this tale and a fairly misleading cover illustration to boot.
63. THE BLOODY WINGS OF THE VAMPIRE (December 1938) – The Hungarians of the Austro-Hungarian Empire step to the fore in this fun adventure, boasting full-fledged villains of their own to do battle with the Allied Powers.
An elderly woman who can appear as a beautiful teenaged girl at will is called the Mother of Vampires. She uses her dark powers over all the subordinate undead to conjure up a horde of actual, supernatural vampires. Why such an exciting story merited such a boring cover illustration (see left) is beyond me.
After fighting werewolves and umpteen variations of zombies in previous stories our heroes at last go into battle against those old horror staples, vampires! The comparative novelty bumps this story up a bit over the preceding two in terms of quality.
I WILL BE EXAMINING MORE G-8 STORIES NEXT TIME!
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