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.
88. DEATH TO THE HAWKS OF WAR (January 1941) – The very first appearance of Herr Teufel (“Mr Devil”), the latest member of G-8’s Rogue’s Gallery of foes. Herr Teufel is tall, thin, pale and boney-faced. Like so many of our hero’s adversaries he’s a mad scientist and in his particular case his headquarters is a hidden lair in the Bavarian Alps.
Herr Teufel’s plan to help the Central Powers win the war involves his latest invention – a drug that, when injected in German pilots, transforms them into maniacal, blood-thirsty sky warriors. These “Hawks of War” have supernatually-fast reflexes, enhanced vision, unerring aim, machine-like stamina and lack any need for sleep.
If Teufel’s super-pilots are successful the Kaiser plans to have the drug mass-produced and used to transform all the Central Powers ground troops into super-soldiers. Needless to say G-8 and his Battle Aces are called into action to take on and bring down Herr Teufel’s human weapons. Our hero suffers a bullet wound to the head at one point in this exciting adventure.
89. HORDE OF THE WINGLESS DEATH (February 1941) – Herr Teufel returns immediately for a rematch with our heroes in this story. Following the skull damage Teufel suffered in his hand-to-hand battle with G-8 in the climax of their previous encounter the Kaiser’s scientists (Including Doktor Krueger one wonders?) outfitted him with a metal hood to keep his brain and his skull fragments together in an elongated cranium like the ones on the aliens in the old movie This Island Earth.
An odd side-effect of this brain injury was that Herr Teufel’s skin has all turned blue in color, furnishing him with his new moniker the Blue Devil (insert your own joke about Duke University’s sports teams here). This new and improved (or “blue and improved”) menace has already designed a deadly new airborne threat to use against the Allied Powers.
That new threat: propellor-driven and steel-coated Zepellins that are part conventional aircraft and part smart missile. When this fleet takes to the skies it’s up to G-8, Bull Martin and Nippy Weston to save the day yet again. At one point the Blue Devil has G-8 trapped in a room with spiked walls that slowly move together, threatening to impale our hero before crushing his remains.
That fate would have at least been swifter than the one the Blue Devil inflicted on another captured Allied pilot in this story: he had several gashes cut in the man’s body, stopped up the bleeding wounds with raw meat and tossed him in a cell for rats to devour.
90. RAIDERS OF THE RED DEATH (March 1941) – G-8’s old foe the Raven returns in this exciting tale! Von Ravenfeld, whose skin is still as coal-black as Herr Teufel’s was blue and Grun the Primeval’s was green, once again seeks revenge on G-8 for shooting down and killing his pilot brother.
The Raven’s reappearance is the good news in this story. The bad new is that the Pulp problem of tedious repetition rears its ugly head again in the form of Von Ravenfeld’s sinister yet derivative plan.
For the umpteenth time our heroes face a super-villain using a deadly gas as a weapon. This red gas is fired through high-tech guns that the Raven outfits his “Raiders of the Red Death” with. The Red Death is sort of a cross between Doktor Krueger’s shriveling death-gas from the very first G-8 story and Herr Geist’s phantom gas in that it causes its victims to shrivel, decompose and “evaporate” into mist.
The action moves to Egypt for the first time in a while so that adds a certain novelty to this otherwise too-familiar plotline. The Raven has discovered his deadly gas deep beneath an ancient Egyptian tomb. A-1, Robert J Hogan’s fictional head of American Intelligence, places G-8 and the Battle Aces under the head of British Intelligence since they will be operating in his turf.
An Egyptian woman named Aida is the sole survivor of a village wiped out by the Raven’s Red Death gas when he tested it to ensure its effectiveness. She helps G-8, Bull, Nippy and Battle fight Von Ravenfeld and his goons.
I WILL BE EXAMINING MORE G-8 STORIES NEXT TIME!
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