Tag Archives: book reviews

JAWBREAKERS: GRAND BIZARRE IS AVAILABLE NOW!

Jawbreakers Grand BizarreRichard C Meyer’s fantastic team of mercenary superheroes nicknamed the Jawbreakers are back in action! They’ve been called the new AVENGERS, the new JUSTICE LEAGUE and the new X-MEN, and with good reason.

Meyer aka Ya Boi Zack is the man who recently brought readers the spectacular Stallone graphic novel project THE EXPENDABLES GO TO HELL. He’s also the creative mastermind of the IRON SIGHTS series. However, his most popular creations remain the superheroes in JAWBREAKERS, this time with art by Aaron Alfeche, main cover by Kyle Ritter and variant cover by Meyer himself.  

Jawbreakers Grand Bizarre and God KingJAWBREAKERS: GRAND BIZARRE, the third installment of the superteam’s adventures, features never before revealed secrets regarding the group of mighty mercenaries plus the mind-blowing menace of the Grand Bazaar. Said Bazaar appears on Earth once every 66.5 years and is a more hardcore version of the kind of foes that the Justice League Dark and the 1970s Defenders fought.

The title, Grand Bizarre, is a play on Grand Bazaar, so no, that’s not a typo on my part. To order this latest volume of Jawbreakers excitement: Continue reading

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THE MATARESE CIRCLE (1979): BOOK REVIEW

Matarese CircleTHE MATARESE CIRCLE (1979) 

TIME PERIOD: Late 1970s with investigations into events from before World War One and later.

To me this lengthy, epic espionage novel from Robert Ludlum was his finest work, partly because it nicely encapsulated how – over the course of the 20th Century – the world gradually found itself at the mercy of elaborate “intelligence communities”  (LMAO) working in conjunction with international corporate fascists.  

There’s something almost poetic about the way that – with the hindsight we have now – the bitter enmity between the novel’s central characters (one a U.S. agent and the other a Soviet agent) is washed away a mere decade before the real-world collapse of the Cold War paradigm.

And with that same hindsight it’s almost eerie how those two rivals come to realize that the real seeds of future totalitarianism lie in the New Feudalism’s ugly motto: Nations are obsolete, so wealth wedded to unchecked political power is the coming thing. Ludlum’s arch-villain Guillaume de Matarese was positively prescient.

LEAD HERO: Brandon Alan Scofield – Codename: Beowulf Agate. Forty-six year old veteran of Consular Operations, Ludlum’s fictional Intelligence Organization specializing in defections from hostile nations – mostly Communist – to the United States.

Matarese Circle 2As The Matarese Circle opens in 1979, Scofield has been with Consular Operations  for 22 years, almost since its founding. A Harvard grad fluent in multiple languages, Brandon joined the U.S. State Department right out of college. After a couple years in the “real” State Department he gravitated to State’s covert section Consular Operations (or Cons Op for short). 

In those early years Cons Op’s activities were not yet totally Top Secret. They were virtually a humanitarian organization which tried to accommodate as many people fleeing the Iron Curtain nations as possible. So many Eastern Europeans began seeking asylum in the Western World that the Soviets realized they had to take steps to cut off the flow of escapees.

Similar to the way they would later construct the Berlin Wall to prevent flight from East Berlin in particular, the Soviets clamped down on potential defections throughout Europe and elsewhere. Soviet intelligence agents – among them Vasili Taleniekov – began shutting down the almost openly- operating Cons Op defection network. Continue reading

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MASKED MAN: STORY TWELVE

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of B.C. Boyer’s neglected 1980s superhero the Masked Man. For Part One click HERE 

Eclipse Monthly 10ECLIPSE MONTHLY Vol 1 #10 (July 1984)

Title: Frank Capra Memorial Hospital

Villains: Six armed and masked assassins

Synopsis: This was the final issue of Eclipse Monthly, which got canceled. The Masked Man was the most popular character in the anthology magazine and he graduated to his own solo title after this. Doug Wildey’s iconic old west gunslinger Rio was also featured in this issue along with Jetta Sixx, Wayne Truman’s heroic female pilot.

Masked Man downTrue to his word, the Masked Man (Dick Carstairs) has been at the side of Maggie Brown (his emerging love interest) each step of the way for her therapy. She is still at Frank Capra Memorial Hospital learning to cope with her new blindness following her injuries during our hero’s battle with the Joe Manfredi Gang last time around. Continue reading

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TWENTY MORE “ANCIENT” SCIENCE FICTION STORIES

One of the most popular topics here at Balladeer’s Blog is “Ancient” Science Fiction. That category covers science fiction stories – often very primitive – from the 1st Century A.D. up through about a hundred years ago. Here’s another list of twenty items for 2020.

Nth ManTHE Nth MAN (1920?)

Author: Homer Eon Flint

“Ancient” Kaiju! An enormous humanoid being with skin like turtle shells rises from the depths to rampage across the United States. The entity is intelligent and lays down political and economic ultimatums to the career politicians of Washington DC and to the plutocrats who pull their strings. Though the enormous Nth Man is told that his demands will be met, the tycoons betray him. They construct a high-tech army to try to kill the giant when he returns and the battle is on.

FOR MY REVIEW CLICK HERE   

Mexican MysteryA MEXICAN MYSTERY (1888)

Author: W. Grove

An inventor in 1860s Mexico seeks favor with Emperor Maximilian by devising an actual “thinking” train engine complete with mechanical arms which allow it to function without humans manning it. The intelligent construct develops a predatory mentality, then goes on a wild killing spree throughout the country while outfighting its human foes at nearly every turn.

FOR MY REVIEW CLICK HERE  Continue reading

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THE MONSTER OF LAKE LA METRIE (1899): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Monster of Lake La MetrieTHE MONSTER OF LAKE LA METRIE (1899) – This short story was written by Wardon Allan Curtis and was first published in the August of 1899 issue of Pearson’s Magazine.

Dr James McLennegan and his deeply depressed friend Edward Framingham travel to Wyoming to investigate oddities surrounding Lake La Metrie. Soundings make the lake seem to be bottomless and periodically fossils and extinct plant life show up in its waters.

Monster of Lake La Metrie 3The pair of researchers begin to theorize that the lake reaches down to the Earth’s “hollow interior.” (Yes, it’s one of THOSE notions again.) They suspect that plant and animal species long extinct on the surface are still alive deep within the planet and occasionally wash up in the lake’s waters.

One day during McLennegan and Framingham’s stay a full-grown elasmosaurus dinosaur emerges from the depths of Lake La Metrie. Continue reading

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GEORGES (1843): ALEXANDRE DUMAS NOVEL ABOUT A SWORDSMAN FIGHTING SLAVERY

Mascot sword and pistolAlexandre Dumas pere is synonymous with swashbuckling historical adventures like The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Man in the Iron Mask.

His name became SO associated with swordplay and intrigue that even a Dumas novel like The Corsican Brotherswhich in reality lacks any true action elements, has long been adapted as if it’s a swashbuckler. That’s a shame since there are other novels by Alexandre Dumas which are loaded with action and historical intrigue yet have been largely overlooked when it comes to movies and television. 

GeorgesGEORGES (1843) – Published just one year before The Three Musketeers, this novel is not only a rollicking adventure full of action, romance and double-crosses but it deals with racial issues in such a way that you would have thought it would have been adapted for film four or five decades ago. The title character uses his sword to fight slavery!  Continue reading

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MASKED MAN: STORY ELEVEN

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of B.C. Boyer’s neglected 1980s superhero the Masked Man. For Part One click HERE

Eclipse 9ECLIPSE MONTHLY Vol 1 #9 (June 1984)

Title: Goodbye

Villains: The Joe Manfredi Gang 

Synopsis: The Masked Man shared this issue of Eclipse Monthly with the sword & sorcery trio Steel, Stealth and Magic (cover art) and the old west gunslinger Rio.

The story opens at the offices of The Daily Horn newspaper a day or two after the attack by the Architectural Terrorists. The staff is still grinding out their daily paper while repairs are done to all the damage inflicted during last issue’s battle.

Masked Man faceThe Masked Man (Dick Carstairs) is on-hand as Editor-In-Chief J Judah Johnson (a pastiche of J Jonah Jameson) assigns our hero’s reporter friend Barney McAllister to scour the city to see if any more members of the Architectural Terrorists are still at large. Continue reading

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