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Hui Yo Chae was monitoring the electronic city map on the wall, watching little lights moving about the streets, and knew where the agents of the Black Ghost were located. At least where their automobiles were, for she had helped put tracking devices on each of their vehicles. The phones on her desk had been silent now for several hours, and it worried her that agents of the black-cloaked avenger were even now in grave danger. She was thankful that her job was that as central command, and a monitoring status only.
These were the thoughts running through her mind as a sinister laugh brought her out of the reverie. An ominous chuckle filled the chamber of electronic equipment, snapping her head in the direction of the sound. To Yo’s amazement a black-clad ninja was revealed in the soft blue light of the small chamber. Tall and slender, the ninja’s face was covered with a black mask, leaving only venomous eyes exposed beneath an ebony hood. Strapped across the back was a long, deadly fighting staff.
Her initial reaction was shock, and then it was quickly replaced by anger. “How did you get in here?”
“A ninja can walk through walls,” laughed the being in black.
“Like comic book supermen can fly!” snapped Yo.
“A pity that your life was so short,” the Ninja commented as she pulled the fighting staff from her shoulder with fluid grace.
Pulp Echoes (Pulp Thriller)
By Tom Johnson
This short story collection consists of seven stories of varying lengths. Each pits a heroic figure against some evil mastermind out to do some dastardly deed. In the first entry, we have a story between novelette and short novel featuring the costumed crime fighter known as The Black Ghost. In this fast-paced yarn, “Carnival of Death”, a British intelligence operative is following a large drug shipment from India to somewhere in the States. The city is never named, but probably on the East Coast. Wounded, the operative seeks out The Black Ghost for help, and the city’s paladin learns that an old nemesis is protecting the drug shipment, and she’s determined to destroy The Black Ghost. This is a sequel to “The Spider’s Web”, published in 2010.
The second story, novelette in length, features an interesting heroine this time in her debut adventure, “A Cat Among Dogs”, and is set in the 1930s. Crime lords are extending their dirty hands across the city, and innocent people are victimized. Donning a strange costume with a Robin Hood hat, she raids the dens of iniquity, taking money from the pockets of the mob bosses. War is declared against her, and the mob and police alike are after the woman behind the mask of The Black Cat.
“Blind As A Bat” is an interesting short story about a character from the 1930s that was the forerunner of Bat Man. Framed by crooks on a murder charge, a famous detective is sent to death row. But honest men conspire to fake his execution, and in doing so The Bat was given life. In this story an insidious Chinaman is kidnapping young white women for white slavery. The Bat is quick to respond.
The fourth story, “Till Death Do Us Part”, is another character from the 1930s. Tough man, Nibs Holloway is assigned to safeguard the arrival of a famous necklace worth a fortune, but when he meets the ship he finds the carrier dead, and the jewels missing. Plus, it seems a notorious master crook called Doctor Death, is also after the necklace. People die during the hunt for the missing jewels, and Nibs Holloway plans for the evil doctor to meet his demise.
The next story is a debut adventure also, though it takes place in the mid 1940s. “Terror In The North Country” features Captain Anthony Adventure and his team of world adventurers. A Canadian girl seeks help from the Adventurers in finding her missing father in the wilds of Canada. After telling the girl to contact the authorities, they quickly change their mind when she tells them her father was kidnapped by a Sasquatch. It doesn’t take the team long to unravel this mystery!
“The Crimson Clown Killer” features another gentleman thief from the 1930s who robs from dastardly crooks. The money goes to charities, except for a small operating fee that he pockets. However, this time the Crimson Clown is accused of murder, and must escape the law and find the real killers. It might take a real magician to pull the rabbit out of this hat!
The last story is an interesting tale of Old California. In late 1700s, with Spain ruling Mexico, Spanish soldiers kill a young girl’s husband and family, and take her land. A master with sword and bullwhip, she dons a mask and leads Mexican bandits against the Spaniards, taking their gold amidst a lot of swordplay. She is called Senora Scorpion by the Spaniards, and her sting is with whip or sword. Though the bandits she leads wishes only gold, her dream is to drive Spain out of California. This has similarities to Zorro.
I am selective in the books I review, and normally don’t read multiple author anthologies or short story collections. Seldom do you find either that will hold up, due to the variety of material, and different author contribution to the content. As an independent book reviewer, I have the option of selecting what I read, not what is pressed upon me. Being familiar with this author’s past work, I was willing to take a chance on PULP ECHOES, and I’m glad I did. The stories do hold up in this short story collection, and the author keeps the reader entertained throughout.
Originally titled ECHOES FROM THE PULPS, the author takes the reader back to the 1930s and ’40s, when fantastic characters dominated the print media called “pulp magazines.” Added to the book is information on the history of pulps, and its current status among followers, with listings of research books and new stories of old characters. This is an intelligent overview of a little known print media that has influenced other medias over the years, and appears to be evolving into the electronic age today.
Entertaining And Highly Recommended.
Reviewer – SF, Etc. At A Glance
Another great collection of new stories of new & classic pulp heroes., January 1, 2012Â by Michael R. Brown
[this is a preliminary review until I can finish this work]
This is the third (and apparently last) collection of new pulp hero stories by Tom Johnson. Its a sort of sequel to this previous 2 collections from Altus Press “Pulp Detectives” and “Exciting Pulp Tales”. This collection has both stories of original pulp heroes as well as new stories of original pulp heroes.
First up, is a story of Tom Johnson’s original character, the Black Ghost. This is apparently the last Black Ghost story, with a return of the villain from “The Spider’s Web”. For further BG stories, get the “Guns of the Black Ghost”.
Next is a story staring “The Black Cat”, a secondary character from a pulp magazine that ran only one issue: The Angel Detective. While the Angel Detective was the main character, the Black Cat appeared there. This story is intended to be a prequel to that appearance.
The following story stars “The Bat”. Not to be confused with other characters, like “The Black Bat”, this one was short-lived character that may have been written by Johnston McCulley. Altus Press has reprinted all the original stories, so this is intended as a followup story to that saga.
Then we have a Nibs Halloway/Doctor Death story. This is the original Doctor Death that ran in “All-Detective” magazine. Altus Press has also reprinted all the stories.
Another original character, Captain Anthony Adventure is next. Inspired by a couple of Doc clones, Jim Anthony Super-Detective and “The Adventures”, a set of Doc/Ham/Monk clones created by Doc ghost writer Bogart.
A new story with another McCulley creation is next: The Crimson Clown (sadly, no one has yet to reprint the original stories of this character).
And the last story is yet another new character “Senora Scorpion”. Johnson created her when he created a new story with McCulley’s Whiplash (appearing in the Altus Press collection), and we have a new story with just her.
Rounding out the book are a few lists. We have a list of all the original pulp characters, first appearances of new stories of the originals, research books and pulp fanzines, and then a list of the new pulp character.
I bought this book a while back but am just now getting around to a review. The previous reviewers have given detailed descriptions of the stories, so I will settle for giving my thumbs up review of the book. I think the Crimson Clown story is the best in the book, but I am partial to that character. There are two collections reprinting the Crimson Clown’s stories that have been published by Ramble House, and this story measures up to those.
The other stories in Pulp Echoes are great also, without exception. I especially enjoyed the Black Cat story, where Tom Johnson fleshes in the background of the pulp character.
Let Tom Johnson plan on putting out another book of new pulp stories. We need them.
Reviewed by Monte Herridge
Memory Lane can take you to some strange places such as comic book stores with impossibly manly heroes even more remote than James Bond. Unless, of course, they’re women. Then they are equally remote, impossibly beautiful and deadlier than the male.
Johnson’s introduction to Pulp Echoes, a collection of pulp fiction stories, qualifies the author as a scholar of pulp fiction as well as a writer. The reader is privileged to enjoy a history of the genre as well as an index of all the heroes who appeared, disappeared, and now reappear. The stories are set in various time periods, both modern and wartime. If modern, the author must maintain the action and uncompromising style of the genre while introducing modern touches, such as cell phones. Johnson does this very well, smoothly and unobtrusively.
The collection includes a Black Ghost story (“Carnival of Death”) ending enigmatically, leaving the reader with a question and waiting for the next story. The Black Cat appears as “A Cat Among Dogs,” displaying her usual skill with unique weapons and some imaginative ways to short out the lights. In “Blind as a Bat,” the Bat displays a talent for disguise as well as bringing justice to a Chinese crime operation. Captain Adventure responds to “Terror in the North Country” and Johnson surprises his readers by referencing Sasquatch and the Mayan languages; possibly a first in pulp fiction history. The Crimson Clown (particularly scary to this reader) takes on the mob and meets The Black Cat, two superheroes in the same story! Then the reader takes a trip back in time to the late 1700’s in California territory to meet Senora Scorpion on a mission of revenge.
The pulp fiction genre requires that the good guys are clearly distinguished from the bad guys and justice must prevail. By today’s standards, such requirements would put the writer in a straight jacket. Johnson breaks out of these limitations by introducing intriguing characters and ingenious weapons, such as a gun that shoots some sort of knock-out gas. It takes a resourceful writer to stay within the pulp fiction rules and still introduce variety and surprise.
The reader can count on excitement and, if old enough, more than a bit of nostalgia from Pulp Echoes.
Review by JoAnna Senger