Balladeer’s Blog resumes its look at 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 super-natural 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, his two Battle Aces.
85. RED SKIES FOR THE SQUADRONS OF SATAN (October 1940) – G-8’s foe Firehammer is back! It turns out the villain survived his previous encounter with our heroes and, once again operating out of his base on the Moselle River, has constructed a new and improved version of his lightning machine.
Firehammer’s lightning machines have no connection to the lightning cannons and handguns created by the German Dr Geinor in The Damned Will Fly Again, but you’d think Robert J Hogan would have just used Firehammer again in that story since Geinor was pretty unmemorable.
This time Firehammer has combined his lightning weapon with the engine of a massive aircraft in such a way that the device powers the plane while simultaneously generating additional electricity. That additional electricity can be discharged as lightning against Allied planes or the helpless ground troops below.
A further perfection has enabled our villain to shoot his lightning with pinpoint accuracy and control the voltage to such a degree that he can even kill or simply paralyze individual figures from hundreds of feet in the air. Per orders from Intelligence Chief A-1 it’s up to G-8, Bull and Nippy to stop him yet again, all while clashing with the officious French Major who runs Le Bourget Field. To give themselves an edge the boys fake their own deaths and even attend their own funeral service.
86. HERE FLIES THE HAWK OF HELL (November 1940) – G-8’s archenemy Doktor Krueger returns! The little fiend has bred a new species of creatures called Drache – bird/ lizard/ dragon beasts who are pretty deadly on their own terms but which also come with a fringe benefit.
That fringe benefit is the poison gas their mouths secrete and which Krueger is bottling for use as a powerful biological warfare agent. G-8 and the Battle Aces fly into action against the Drache and the equally dangerous genius behind them, intent on stopping Doktor Krueger’s latest plan to let the Central Powers win the war.
Not one of the best Krueger stories, since the Drache creatures are like something G-8’s Austrian foe Dr Mollfuss would have created and the use of poison from these beasts is just a rehashing of previous plans by the Chinese genius Chu Lung and by Krueger himself.
87. SQUADRON OF THE DAMNED (December 1940) – Introducing a brand-new foe for G-8 and the Battle Aces – Dr Todini! In the past our heroes have battled American, British, French and Japanese traitors to the Allied Powers. Dr Todini is the first Italian traitor among G-8’s antagonists. (Like Japan, Italy was on the Allied side in World War One, a fact that confuses some people.)
Physically Todini is a short, squat man with hairy shoulders, arms and chest. Some elements of his personality are clearly meant to lampoon the real world’s Benito Mussolini but for conspiracy- minded people who are into Tesla lore certain aspects of Todini’s advanced science will seem familiar. To cut to the chase in exchange for 100 million German marks Dr Todini is outfitting the Central Powers with specialized troops.
Those troops are employing the not-so- good doctor’s wireless madness ray via specially-equipped tanks or via high-tech red-helmeted paratroopers who carry portable versions of the ray in metal backpacks. The backpacks have a wire connecting them to souped-up hand-guns that fire the wireless “T-Rays”.
Those rays render the victims unable to control their bodies, leaving them a mob of spasmodic, twitching husks and therefore easy pickings for the advancing Central Powers. Hellishly the victim’s brains remain functioning so they are aware of what is happening to their bodies but they are unable to do anything about it.
In the story’s climax G-8 and company manage to steal Todini’s other device which cures those afflicted by the effects of the T-Rays and they also abduct the scientist himself. They deliver the captive Todini to a meeting of the French cabinet to sway the impending vote about whether they should surrender. G-8’s disdain for the French politicians entertaining such thoughts pretty clearly represents Hogan’s attitude toward certain real-world events of the time.
I WILL BE EXAMINING MORE G-8 STORIES NEXT TIME!
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