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FOOL KILLER: PART TEN – MELUNGEON VARIATIONS

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer condensedPART TEN: MELUNGEON VARIATIONS

In the previous installment I wrapped up my review of the various surviving Fool Killer Letters recounting the folk figure’s homicidal adventures in North Carolina, Virginia (including what is now West Virginia) and Kentucky.

Those tales presented the Milton Chronicle‘s Fool Killer from the late 1840s or early 1850s on through the late 1870s or possibly as late as 1880. That figure slew fools with his club/ walking stick/ cudgel and his set of Bowie knives, each blade inscribed with the words “Fool Killer.”  

The very first Fool Killer Letter by Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans’ fictional Jesse Holmes has not survived, so if Evans made reference to being inspired by any older Fool Killer traditions we have no way of knowing it.

East Tennessee MountainsIf he had, one possible source would be the Fool Killer figure from Melungeon folklore in East Tennessee and other Appalachian areas. Or, since we have no way of checking exact dates, Evans’ darkly satirical tales may have influenced the existing Melungeon lore since Melungeons at the time were scattered from Tennessee to North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.

If you’re not familiar with the Melungeon people their origin is shrouded in centuries of folklore. Since I’m covering Fool Killer legends specifically here, I will simplify Melungeon origin tales for the sake of brevity.

The Melungeon origin traditions relevant to Fool Killer lore: a) Pre-Columbian Portuguese sailors became shipwrecked here in the New World and intermarried with Native Americans of the area to produce the Melungeons … b) Ancient Phoenicians arrived in the New World while sailing in search of new lands to colonize, so Melungeons are descendants of those Phoenicians … and c) Satan (“Old Horny” as he’s called in Melungeon folk tales) bred with Native American women to produce the Melungeons. (Only NON-Melungeons told this tale.)    

FOOL KILLER VARIATION ONE: I’ll begin with the Melungeon Fool Killer tradition which states that the Devil/ Old Horny coupled with already existing Melungeon women who happened to be witches OR who were victims of his forced affections. One of those women gave birth to his son. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER: PART NINE – THE OXFORD TORCH-LIGHT LETTER (1878)

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer on cowcatcherPART NINE: This installment draws to a close the opening era of Fool Killer lore but we have much, much more to go after this. (At left is the figure riding a train’s cowcatcher like he often did to get around.)

This part exhausts the era of the Fool Killer Letters, seven of which survived from the Milton Chronicle newspaper, with a fragment of an 8th being quoted in the Southern Literary Messenger, and now we have this ninth (imitation) Fool Killer Letter from the Oxford Torch-Light.

Torch-Light Editor A.W. Davis is the assumed author of this letter which seems to have been written as an homage to Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans’ original Fool Killer Letters. The letter is much shorter than the usual correspondence from the fictional Jesse Holmes, as the Fool Killer claimed was his real name.  Continue reading

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ADAM WARLOCK: THE MAGUS, PART SIX

magus on throneBalladeer’s Blog’s examination of another old, old, OLD Marvel Comics hit continues. This one was written AND drawn by Jim Starlin. (The overrated and over-praised Alan Moore only writes, doesn’t draw.) 

FOR PART ONE PLUS A RECAP OF ADAM WARLOCK’S FICTIONAL HISTORY CLICK HERE

Magus 6PART SIX

Warlock #10 (December 1975)

Title: THE REDEMPTION PRINCIPLE

NOTE: This installment of The Magus features what the late Stan Lee might have called “the senses-shattering ORIGIN of GAMORA!!!”

Synopsis: We are rapidly approaching the final installment of Jim Starlin’s masterful hybrid of Young Adult Science Fiction and superhero story. Recapping last issue’s mind-boggling developments regarding Adam Warlock and his vile future self the Magus would require several hundred words, thus blocking the dramatic flow, so I will simply pepper in relevant details as needed.

Adam WarlockWe pick up right where we left off last time: Room #7, Sub-Level 2 of the Sacred Palace, headquarters of the Magus’ galaxy-spanning Universal Church of Truth. The Magus, that Church’s self-proclaimed god, not only defeated Warlock and Pip the Troll but also thwarted Gamora’s attempt to kill him with her God-Slayer Knife.

Gamora’s mysterious (to 1975 readers) master turned out to be Thanos, not as dead as the Avengers thought he was at the end of the Thanos War in July of 1974. Thanos teleported himself to Gamora’s side to continue trying to prevent the Magus (a potential rival) from ever existing (see the previous installment).

GamoraThe Magus had left Room #7, Sub-Level 2 after defeating Adam, Gamora and Pip, and thus is not aware that Thanos is involved. With Gamora’s interference having already altered the Magus’ past as he remembered experiencing it as Adam Warlock, the mad “deity” sent a legion of his Black Knights of the Church to attack the survivors in Room #7, Sub-Level 2 to prevent any further significant changes. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER: PART EIGHT – THE SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer picPART EIGHT: The previous installment dealt with the last surviving Fool Killer Letter by Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans, Editor of the Milton Chronicle. That letter was from February of 1879.

This time I’ll go back to look at another Civil War-era reference to the Fool Killer Letters, to an excerpt from an 8th Letter which has not survived and to a publication running their own list of figures they’d like to see the Fool Killer slay.  

Southern Literary MessengerIn 1862 the Southern Literary Messenger quoted from a Milton Chronicle Fool Killer Letter, but without an exact date and without the whole context it’s not sufficient to count it as an 8th surviving letter.

Before I get into the details of Jesse Holmes’ (The Fool Killer’s) murderous activities in this account I will briefly explain that this Southern Literary Messenger article seems to be the source of confusion regarding whether the Fool Killer began his famous Civil War hibernation period in 1861 or 1862.   Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER: PART SEVEN – FEBRUARY 13th, 1879

Fool Killer RedBalladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore.

FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer picPART SEVEN: The seventh surviving Fool Killer Letter. (See Part One for an explanation.)

February 13th of 1879 was the publication date but January 30th was the date of the letter itself. For the location the Fool Killer simply wrote “Mountain Cave” as in his secret cavern lair which was never glimpsed by human eyes.

Many of Jesse Holmes’ activities that he recounts to Editor Charles Evans (the real author of the letters) in this missive happened around Christmas 1878 through New Year’s. That being the case A Very Fool Killer Christmas might be a good title. 

Between Woodsdale and Clarksville the roaming murderer came across a weeping young man driving a wagon full of chickens. It turned out that the figure was crying because he took his girlfriend to a Yuletide party and agreed to let an old bachelor walk her home. The old bachelor convinced her to marry him and they immediately went to a magistrate’s house and were wed.

The Fool Killer administered a non-fatal beating to the young man for his foolishness in letting the bachelor walk his girl home AND for wasting time crying over such an inconstant belle when there were plenty more fish in the sea.

Skull walking stick 3Holmes then set out to snuff the devious old bachelor and also came across another young man who had been played false by the same woman who victimized the wagon driver. This suitor had swum the Hyco River in North Carolina, risking pneumonia at that time of year, just to see the girl. The Fool Killer advised him about the belle’s true nature and gave him a token swat for being suckered in by that designing woman and risking his life for her.

His recent late January antics dispensed with, Jesse moved on to recap his murderous activities from shortly before Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. The Fool Killer saved a pious and religious man named Charles Butts from three not-right men pushing a kind of Millerite end of the world belief enroute to a Christmas Party.

Fool Killer garbThe trio tried to persuade Butts into joining them in a suicide pact to show their faith before the imminent end. When Charles refused, the three drunken apocalypticists grew hostile and implied they might take him with them against his will. The Fool Killer intervened with his club/ walking stick/cudgel and his set of Bowie knives and slew the three loons.  

Next our homicidal vigilante set out to deliver punishment and recover the stolen coffin and cadaver of the wealthy Alexander Turney Stewart. Alexander had died in 1876 but in 1878 grave-robbers made off with his casket and corpse from St Mark’s. Continue reading

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ADAM WARLOCK: THE MAGUS, PART FIVE

Adam WarlockBalladeer’s Blog’s examination of another old, old, OLD Marvel Comics hit continues. This one was written AND drawn by Jim Starlin. (The overrated and over-praised Alan Moore only writes, doesn’t draw.) 

FOR PART ONE PLUS A RECAP OF ADAM WARLOCK’S FICTIONAL HISTORY CLICK HERE

Magus 5PART FIVE

Warlock #9 (October, 1975)

Title: THE INFINITY EFFECT

NOTE: The first four installments of The Magus were successful enough for Marvel Comics to re-launch Adam Warlock’s solo series. The previous chapters were published at Strange Tales and this 5th part resumed the Warlock comic book beginning with number 9. The first run of Adam’s solo series ended with number 8 back in October 1973 during his Counter-Earth adventures.  

Infinity EffectSynopsis: We pick up immediately where we left off. Adam Warlock, Gamora and Pip the Troll have at last come face to face with the REAL form of Adam’s future self, the Magus, instead of the misleading “green like the Soul Gem” disguise he had been hiding behind.

Confusion is still in the air, because though the Magus is Warlock’s future self, his Universal Church of Truth was formed to worship him as its god 5,000 years ago. The explanation for that is at last forthcoming in this Timey Wimey chapter.

Pip comments on the way the Magus in his real form looks just like Adam except for being purplish-gray and having “an electro hair-do” as the Troll calls the Magus’ White Guy Afro. The Magus dismisses Pip as a fleabag, rises from his throne and says that the difference is far more profound than that. He is what “this golden butterfly” (Adam) will become.

Tom Fleming WarlockThe villain further states that he is what the forces of Chaos and Order have decreed that Warlock will become. NOTE: This carries over Jim Starlin’s use (in Captain Marvel’s comic book) of Chaos and Order as his William Blake-styled personifications of cosmic forces beyond human understanding. Starlin had Chaos and Order and their subordinate entities “upgrade” the Kree Captain Mar-Vell to help him against Thanos in the original 1970s Thanos War, covered in 2017 here at Balladeer’s Blog.  

Adam calls the Magus a cancer for the way his tyrannical  Universal Church of Truth has enslaved or obliterated countless planets, all just to further the Magus’ desire to become the only god worshipped anywhere. The Magus taunts Warlock and in response Adam attacks his future self. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER: PART SIX – SEPTEMBER 11th, 1877

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer riverboat gambler lookPART SIX: The sixth surviving Fool Killer Letter. (See Part One for an explanation.)

September 11th was the publication date but the “letter” was dated August, 1877. Location: “Sitting on somebody’s gate post, I don’t know where.”

This Fool Killer Letter, one of the precious few to have survived, surfaced in 1975 and had originally been syndicated in 1877 in the Oxford, NC publication called The Torchlight. Previously Balladeer’s Blog covered how the darkly satirical adventures of Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans’ fictional Fool Killer were syndicated not just in Evans’ Milton Chronicle but in other newspapers throughout North Carolina and Virginia at least.

For the first time in the surviving letters the homicidal vigilante has no idea what location he’s writing from in his “correspondence” with Editor Charles Evans. Jesse Holmes (as the wandering murderer claimed to be his real name) was uncharacteristically downbeat in the opening lines. He confessed to being close to despair and contemplated returning to his hidden cave to hibernate again for several years, like he had from roughly 1861/2 to 1870.

Skull walking stick 4The Fool Killer complained that for every fool he slew with his club/ walking stick/ cudgel or his set of Bowie knives (each blade inscribed with the words “Fool Killer”) three more fools sprang up to take their place. He said that fools were as plentiful as grains of sand on the beach.

Jesse especially reviled the idiots who thought themselves intellectually superior to the rest of the citizenry and the deceitful, hypocritical and villainous malefactors who abused their positions as politicians, clergy and teachers. The timelessness of the Fool Killer Letters always makes me wonder why they are so neglected. 

Fool Killer riverboat torsoHolmes’ body count in this letter started off with assorted nouveau riche snobs of the Gilded Age, whom he condemned as would-be aristocrats. The Fool Killer struck down these formerly poor people who became wealthy and then put on airs, snubbing friends and relations who were not as well off and forbidding their daughters to even be seen dancing with “mechanics” (the term used in the actual 1877 letter).  

Our “hero” disparaged the beaver-fur top hats worn by at least one of his nouveau riche victims. Hey, “Fur Kills” even in 1877 I guess!

Moving on to Jesse’s other killings confessed to in this letter: Continue reading

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