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‘Pulp Hero’ epics of Wayne Reinagel

Posted by at 11:30 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015 in Doc Savage, New Pulp, Pastiche, Review, The Avenger, The Shadow, The Spider, Wold Newton Universe
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

‘Pulp Hero’ epics of Wayne Reinagel

"Pulp Heroes: More Than Mortal"Wayne Reinagel is a New Pulp author who is creating an epic set of novels. The main series is called Pulp Heroes and will consist of three pulp novels plus two associated works. Another series is Modern Marvels, which I’ll cover in another posting.

The first Pulp Heroes novel is More Than Mortal.

This book is an obvious labor of love to create an epic pulp hero novel, teaming up pastiches of four of the major pulp heroes (and hints of several others).

Here, we have his takes on four major pulp heroes: Doc Savage (Doc Titan), The Shadow (The Darkness), The Avenger (The Guardian), and The Spider (The Scorpion), plus their aides and assistants.

It also uses the Wold Newton concept of Philip José Farmer, to create the backdrop to the story, weaving in various heroes and characters from earlier fiction. We see analogues of Tarzan, Captain America (and his two main Nazi villains the Red Skull and Count Zemo), Captain Satan and even the Angel Detective. Further, Reinagel uses the names of various people from pulp fiction for the names of minor characters. At times one wonders what the basis of certain characters. (Is there a background story to Skull Island/Wilder Island that I’m missing? Or the assistant to Doc Titan’s father, or the real identity of the Black Skull?)

Also, like many pastiches, the characters are not exact copies. There are differences from the main four characters to the originals. Some may be intentional, some may be the author isn’t able to capture the style of the original authors.

Overall, I enjoyed this work.

The second novel is Khan Dynasty.

"Pulp Heroes: Khan Dynasty"This work is a prequel to the prior novel, so we see background on some of these characters. We learn more about Doc Titan’s father. The main villain is based on Fu Manchu and his daughter. Reinagel’s origin for Titan is a bit convoluted, and not clear on some elements of it. We also find out that the connection between Doc Titan and his cousin (analogue to Pat Savage) is not the same as with the Savages.

As to the four major pulp heroes, we mainly see Doc and The Darkness. The Scorpion is shown, but here we learn more about his past (as well as The Darkness). And The Guardian has just made his appearance, so we see him just before he sets up his group, and meet several of the members of this group.

As before, there is a weaving in of various heroes and characters from earlier fiction. We see analogues or the actual characters of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Col. Richard Henry Savage, Captain Nemo, Frankenstein (and his monster), Dr. Fu Manchu, Shiwan Khan, Sherlock Holmes and Mycroft Holmes, and others. We also see real people such as Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, Harry Houdini, and Ernest Shackleton.

Another good work. The novel mainly jumped between two story-lines, one set in the 1860s and the other in the 1930s, with a few other chapters set in other times to fill some things in (including things that happened in the previous novel).

I really look forward to seeing the final in the series, which is to be called Sanctuary Falls. Obviously, it deals with the hidden haven of Sanctuary.

Two shorter works have come out since.

The first is The Hunter Island Adventure, which is part of Pro Se Presents. It combines the female associates of the four pulp heroes on the island from The Most Dangerous Game. (I’ve previously reviewed this.)

The second is The Inner World Adventure, which has Pam Titan (Doc Titan’s cousin) and Hareton Ironcastle‘s daughter (Ironcastle is from the French novel of the same name that Farmer would translate and work into his Wold Newton Universe) traveling to Pellucidar, the Hollow Earth of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Another work he has done is The Castaway, which I have not read. As noted, another series he has is Modern Marvels, of which the first novel, Viktoriana is out. It’s set in the same universe as the Pulp Heroes series, but I have issues with that idea, which I’ll cover in my posting about it.

Now, some criticisms: One big problem for works like these, where almost all the characters are either pastiches of other characters or whose names are based on a creator, is you sometimes wonder if a particular character is based on another, but that you aren’t familiar with the original one and not getting it. The next problem is with the artwork in the series, all by Reinagel. The artwork is very nice, but it too modernistic. It really doesn’t invoke the style or feeling of the pulps of the ’30s and ’40s. Tying with that, is that the garb of the main characters doesn’t match what would be worn in that time period. Again, too modern.

At this point, I don’t know when Reinagel will come out with the final Pulp Heroes novel or the next Modern Marvel novel. I had held off on this posting in hopes the final Pulp Heroes novel would come out, but decided to get it out now. It’s been awhile and I’d love to see them. If you haven’t check out these works, do so. Despite any issues, these are all good reads.