Blog: Commentary from the den of a pulp super-fan

Review: ‘The Adventures of Lazarus Gray’

Posted by at 10:00 am Tuesday, September 3, 2013 in Hero Pulps, Lazarus Gray, New Pulp, Pulps, Review
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The Adventures of Lazarus GrayLazarus Gray is a character from New Pulp writer Barry Reese. I have been reading his Rook series (he has other works as well, but those are the ones I’ve been reading).

Gray is sort of inspired by the classic pulp hero The Avenger. His stories take place in a fictional town called Sovereign City (created by Pro Se Press publisher Tommy Hancock), and is part of the Sovereign City Project that will see collections of at least two other characters from Pro Se.

Lazarus Gray is set in the same “universe” as Barry’s Rook character, and we get an updated chronology of his universe in the back of the book that places both the Lazarus Gray stories (included the next two volumes) plus the Rook stories and a few others by Reese.

“The Adventures of Lazarus Gray” is a collection of seven stories. Three of them previously saw print in Pro Se’s defunct Peculiar Adventures Magazine. And the last story has a team-up with the Rook that originally appeared in “The Rook, Vol. 6.”

Who is Lazarus Gray? Well, he’d like to know as well.

We find out in the first story that he woke up on the shores of Sovereign City with no memory of who he is, and with a strange medallion with the name “Lazarus Gray.” He started working to help people, and formed Assistance Unlimited with three associates that he helped out. As noted, this is similar to the origin of The Avenger and his Justice Inc. He will learn more about himself in the stories in this collection, and deal with people from that past.

All the stories have a supernatural element to them, and this also ties into Gray’s mysterious past. In a couple of stories, Reese adds in the Golden Age comic-book villain The Claw. Maybe this character will return. Overall, all these stories are great.

The first story sets up the characters of Gray and his associates. The headquarters for Assistance Unlimited is a group of building on Robeson Avenue, much the same as Justice Inc. His associates are Morgan Watts, Samantha Grace, and Eun Jiwon. Morgan is a former gangster. Samantha is part of the Grace family, who plays a part in other works of Reese’s. Skilled in many areas, she has joined Lazarus to help with his work. Eun is Korean and joined Lazarus when he helped Eun after his family was killed by criminals. The story also introduces Walter Lunt, a villain who knows Lazarus from before, and would be a recurring problem for him.

The second story has a quest for a mystical book. Lunt returns, and we are introduced to Miya Shimada, a former lover of Lazarus from before. She, too, will return in future stories.

The third story has Assistance Unlimited dealing with someone trying to bring the dead back to life. We are introduced to Princess Fermi, who also will plague Lazarus in the future. And Lazarus starts to learn who he was before he lost his memory.

The fourth story has Assistance Unlimited go up against Mr. Skull. But perhaps more importantly, Miya returns and Lazarus learns who he really is. Or was. But he decides that he is now and forever, Lazarus Gray.

The fifth story has the team confronting the Claw!

The sixth story brings back the Claw, as we see that Lazarus and his associates are now in a fight against the Illuminati, the organization Lazarus used to be a part of.

The final story is a team-up between the Rook and Lazarus. Kind of a good story to introduce these characters to the other’s readers.

There are few negatives to point out. I really like the cover, as artist Anthony Castrillo has a style very similar to John Byrne, but I would have liked the cover to better reflect the description of Gray, who is noted to have gray hair with some brown, not blonde hair.

In the first story, he is described as wearing an outfit similar to the Warner paperback Avenger covers, but in the later stories this is not mentioned. I would like to see a more consistent description of his outfit, if he does wear one.

One of the characters is revealed to be gay. I don’t have an issue with that, but the reaction of the other characters isn’t what I would have expected for the time of the story (1930s).

I saw a few typos and such in this work. Needs better proofreading.

At this time, there are two more collections of Gray stories out. Look for reviews soon. I am really enjoying this series, about as much as I enjoy Reese’s Rook. I look forward to further stories, and a fourth and fifth will be coming.