Tagged: monster


(A Walt Longmire Mystery)
By Craig Johnson
Penguin Books
309 pages
“Hell Is Empty” is as much about the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming as it is about the people who live within their shadows.  Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire is transporting several prisoners to an out of the way wilderness locale to unearth the remains of a slain Indian boy murdered by one of the convicts; a psychopath named Raynaud Shade.  Upon meeting Longmire for the first time, Shade tells him he hears ghosts and believes the sheriff possesses the same ability.  Longmire, having fulfilled his duty in getting this human monster to the site, packs it in and starts down the mountain.
Within hours of digging up the boy’s bones, the convicts, following a plan devised by Shade, escape; killing several federal agents and marshals in the process.  When the news reaches Longmire, he realizes he’s the only lawman left on the mountain able to give chase and sets out after the killers alone.  Thus begins his incredible journey that will ultimately test both his body and his spirit as a savage winter storm is descending on the mountains and becomes a deadly participant in the drama.
Johnson’s title; “Hell Is Empty,” is an homage to Dante’s classic fantasy, “Inferno,” where the lowest levels of hell are not hot but numbingly frozen over much like the very peaks Longmire must conquer to capture Shade and save the female marshal he holds  hostage.  Now a resident of Colorado, I am daily reminded of the power and majesty of these mountain ranges and threat they pose to any who venture into them naively without the proper outdoor skills.  This book is more an adventure odyssey than a mystery. Longmire must confront his own inner demons while climbing higher to reach the snow blanketed Cloud Peak which is Shade’s final destination where both will confront each other in a primal contest of good versus evil.
The book is multilayered and despite it Heminwayesque narrative style, Johnson adds a new twist by having his protagonist guided by a giant Crow warrior called Virgil White Buffalo; his version Dante’s Roman poet guide. There is a crucial connection between the giant Virgil and the fleeing killer that Longmire slowly uncovers as the pair make their way through the brutal storm.  Soon the physical suffering the sheriff has to endure begins playing tricks on his consciousness until the reader realizes his companion may simply be the hallucination of a fevered mind.
“Hell Is Empty,” is the seventh book in the Walt Longmire series by Johnson and a terrific, gripping read unlike anything else on the market today.  It is fresh with interesting characters and skillful in its economic storytelling.  As the book’s cover announces, the series has been turned into a new A & E television series that will soon premier on Sunday evening June 3rd and features Australian actor Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire with Katee Sachofff of Battlestar Galactica fame as his chief deputy Victoria “Vic” Moretti and Lou Diamond Phillips as best friend, Henry Standing Bear. If the show is as much fun as this book, then we’re all in for a treat.

The Point Radio: Bendis’ Big Book Deal

Brian Bendis has bagged a book deal outside of comics – sort of, plus more behind the scenes at HARRY‘S LAW with Nate Corddry and SYFY bags monster ratings with one finale.

The Point Radio is on the air right now – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or mobile device– and please check us out on Facebook right here & toss us a “like” or follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.


By Matthew Reilly
St.Martin’s Paperbacks
457 pages
When this reviewer can chew through four hundred and fifty-seven pages of fiction as if it were a ball of yummy cotton-candy, you know there is lots of awesome action in those pages.  “Scarecrow” by Matthew Reilly is easily one of the fastest paced action thrillers I’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring.  From the very first page to the last, it takes off like a rocket ship cutting through one massive, terrorist style threat after another pitting our hero, Special Forces Marine Captain Shane Schofield against a veritable army of the deadliest professional killers in the world.
The plot is about as melodramatic as these kind of books can get.  A super secret group of arms dealers wish to create a second Cold War so that there will be a renewed demand for their product; a need that has lessened considerably since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  They plan elaborate missile strikes against the major cities of both the east and the west, using weaponry that can be traced back to specific nations and thus throw false blame on them. What the group doesn’t know is that amongst them is a psychopath who has no interest in a “cold” war, but rather this monster is intent on starting Armageddon and seeing the world destroyed.
The only thing that can foil this global scheme is the fact that all the missiles can be aborted by one universal “kill” code; a code that requires near super human reflexes to administer.  There are only fifteen men in the world, soldiers, who have such reflexes to properly activate this “kill” switch.  Thus the clandestine group puts a million dollar bounty on their heads, literally.  They also set a time-table as they want these targets eliminated before the launching of their insidious plan.  
Captain Shane Schofield, code name Scarecrow, is one of those targeted for execution.  Of course, he isn’t that easy to kill and when he escapes the first attempt on his life, he immediately begins to turn the tables on his hunters.  At the same time he is fleeing these crazed killers, he is using his Pentagon contacts to figure out what is actually going on and by the last quarter of the book, Scarecrow has unraveled the plot and begins racing against time to save the world.
Honestly, there were times when reading Reilly’s over-the-top outlandish action sequence where I was thought even Michael Bay couldn’t do justice to this gung-ho Road Runner cartoon brought to life.  There is more action in this one book than any other dozen bestselling thrillers on the market today.  Reilly is the quintessential New Pulp writer who understands the rules of break-neck pacing and the objective of entertaining the hell out of his readers.  He does both masterfully.  It is no wonder he has a huge fan following amongst action readers; this reviewer being the latest recruit.
Note, “Scarecrow” was written back in 2003 and the dog-eared copy I just read was sent to me last year by my Canadian colleague, Andrew Salmon, a long time Reilly convert who knew I’d get a bang out of it. I just couldn’t imagine just how big a bang it would be.

Merlin’s Switch to 35mm Filming Expands Cinematic Capabilities

merlin-lamia-1-300x200-7268815The shift to filming in glorious 35mm has opened new doors of creative storytelling for the crew of MERLIN, and the evidence is clear in the lush cinematography and haunting approach to “Lamia,” an all-new episode MERLIN premiering Friday, February 24, at 10 p.m. ET/PT only on Syfy.

The episode sets Merlin and several Knights of the Round Table on the road to a distant village to help treat those inflicted with a mysterious illness – but the young warlock quickly discovers he is the one in danger. As the Knights become increasingly bewitched by an alluring young woman named Lamia, Merlin finds himself with only Gwen as an ally as he’s lured into a game of cat and mouse against an unseen enemy more deadly than he could possibly imagine. (more…)


The Mensch With No Name
By Edward M. Erdelac
Damanation Books, LLC
218 pages
Perhaps the most popular sub-genre in the resurgence of new pulp fiction is that of the weird western. It seems everywhere one turns these days; another publisher is coming out with another anthology which combines the cowboy classic setting with all manner of bizarre and horrible trappings.  None is more effective and original than Edward M. Erdelac’s Merkabh Rider series.  In his first book, “Tales of a High Plains Drifter” we were introduced to the Rider, last of an order of Jewish mystics searching a demon infested west on the trail of his teacher, who betrayed and massacred the order known as the Sons of Essenes.  In this second volume, the Rider’s travails continue through four new adventures.
In “The Infernal Napoleon”, the Rider finds himself in an out of the way watering hole used by freight haulers.  Here, in this desolate way station he’s set upon by a vengeance seeking demonic dwarf who controls a satanic canon and is willing to destroy dozens of innocent lives to achieve his ends.  But in all things, there is a balance and the aid of a young Samson-like strongman may tilt the odds in the Rider’s favor.  The action is fast and brutal and sets the tone for the entire book.
Next is “The Damned Dingus.” During a train robbery by a group of dim witted varmints, the Rider’s unique Volcanic pistol is stolen. With the aid of the famous gunfighter, Doc Holiday, and an experienced deputy marshal, the Rider travels to an abandoned mine in the high country and encounters the savage menace of an invisible monster capable of ripping men and horses to pieces.  What is it the creature is protecting and what is its connection to his old teacher’s twisted plans?
Leaving Arizona, the Rider learns he has been labeled a wanted outlaw with a bounty on his head.  Fleeing into New Mexico, he encounters a band of Apaches battling an age old horror that dwells beneath the earth.  Here Erdelac takes a page from H. P. Lovecrafts’ canon in using the evil Old Ones from beyond the stars as the threat and only the Rider and his arcane skills can free the territory of the vile and corrupted She-Demon in the episode called appropriately, “The Outlaw Gods.” Before it is finished, the Rider will have led an army of Spanish ghosts in an epic battle across the astral plane.
Finally, still assailed by Queen Lilith’s invisible sprites that are draining away his life essence, the Rider is found by Kabede; a Merkabah Rider from a secret Ethiopian sect of the Sons of Essenes.  Kabede convinces the Rider that the answers to Adon’s diabolical plan, the meaning behind the so called Hour of Incursion, can only be answered by the Prince of Hell, Satan and they must travel to Hell in astral form.  Erdelac’s depiction of the various levels of Gehena are as evocative as Milton’s own “Paradise Lost” and deftly combine Judeo/Christian tradition with other prehistoric myths.  In the end, he weaves a complicated but amazing tapestry of mankind’s ongoing quest to explain the meaning of creation and the eternal conflict between faith and hopelessness.  By the end of this final chapter, the Rider and his new companion have set into motion actions which will either lead to their defeat at the hands of Adon and his minions, or a miraculous victory against the forces of alien damnation.  Calling this finale a cliffhanger is a major understatement.
“MERKABAH RIDER – The Mensch With No Name” is a terrific continuation of an exciting saga this reviewer imagines will culminate in a third and final volume.  This is easily some of the finest western/horror/action writing on the market today and comes highly recommended.  The Merkabah Rider is truly a pulp hero like no other.

Watch “Zombies: A Living History”

Watch “Zombies: A Living History”

The Walking Dead on San Diego

Image by {El Gris} via Flickr

Premiering tonight on the History Channel!

Relentless. Infectious. All consuming. Since the beginning of time they have embodied our deepest fears and today their power to frighten us is more potent than ever before. They are the monster that history cannot kill.

Get ready for an unprecedented exploration of history’s most terrifying and enduring horror. What are the origins of the living dead and what makes them more relevant than ever before? Join Max Brooks, Jonathan Maberry, Roger Ma, JL Bourne, Kim Paffenroth, Rebekah McKendry, Steven Schlozman, Daniel Drezner, The Zombie Squad and many more as we investigate the roots of our ultimate fear and find out what you can do to prepare yourself for the zombie apocalypse.

…Because if you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for anything.

You’ll even see a few ComicMix contributors in the special. The producers wanted them for their braiiinnnnnssss…


What Was It Like Working For “The Incredible Hulk”?

What Was It Like Working For “The Incredible Hulk”?

The Incredible Hulk

With the imminent return of The Incredible Hulk to television (currently being developed for ABC and spinning out of the Avengers movie next summer) it’s illuminating to go back and take a look at how the original TV series was made. Allan Cole (perhaps better known as the co-author of the [[[Sten]]]novels) was a writer for the series, and he’s been reminiscing…

To understand The Incredible Hulk you have to first know that everybody on the show was nuts. Some were nice nuts. A few, not so nice. And others bounced back and forth like green balls of silly putty with no notice whatsoever.

It also helps to understand that the very premise of the show was schizoid, with this wimpy little doctor-type guy (played by Bill Bixby) transforming into a big green monster (played by Lou Ferrigno) when somebody kicks sand in his face and pisses him off.

Put another way, scripting for the Incredible Hulk was like writing for Kabuki theater. As Chris said, “one frigging thing out of place and everybody and everything goes apeshit.”

The writing experience could be frustrating, agonizing and drive you just plain bonkers. On the other hand, of the hundred and fifty odd shows Chris and I worked on, it was one of the most fun and satisfying. Once you got the formula down pat, you could write just about anything you wanted. More importantly, what you wrote went on the screen, so you didn’t hesitate to open up and address broader themes than one might expect in a show about a comic book character.


Man from Atlantis Complete Series/Complete TV Movies

One of the joys of the Warner Archive program is that movies and television shows for small groups of fans can be released. The restoration costs seem to have reached a reasonable scale and these direct-to-order projects don’t really require the bells and whistles higher profile releases deserve. As a result, we can revel in the stuff we grew up or recall fondly. In my case, that includes a ton of Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears stuff that has been coming out over the last year or two. It also meant I finally got a good copy of the pilot to the Search series.

And while some will turn their noses up to those offerings, they may begin salivating at some of the others that have been released; titles which I personally find not worth our time and attention. One such series is the short-lived NBC clunker Man from Atlantis, best known as the vehicle that gave the world Patrick Duffy pre-Dallas. The premise is certain high concept enough to have been interesting: amnesiac Mark Harris displayed the ability to breathe underwater and withstand the crushing deep sea water pressure. His origins remained murky but as was the formula from the 1970s, he was immediately set up with a purpose that served others rather than himself: working for the Foundation for Oceanic Research, a front for top secret activity. He was accompanied by a team of humans (co-stars Belinda J. Montgomery and Alan Fudge) aboard the high-tech sub called the Cetacean. And rather than delve into her personality or explore the things that made him unique, he became another handsome, shirtless hunk who went through the motions.

NBC’s Fred Silverman green lit the series, first as a number of telefilms, running four during the 1976-1977 television season and these are collected in the just-released two-disc Man from Atlantis: The Complete TV Movies Collection.

The concept proved durable enough it was given a weekly series order and those 13 episodes have also been collected and released as a four-disc Man from Atlantis: The Complete Television Series. I should stress, the pilot film was previously released on its own. (more…)

MIKE GOLD: Fantastic Fifty

Let me tell you a timely story.

Almost fifty years ago, my parents piled my sister and me into the car for a drive to DeKalb, Illinois. Since my sister was about to start college only three of us would be coming back. Always concerned about his children’s cultural upbringing, Dad stopped by a phenomenal bagel joint called Kaufman’s in what was Chicago’s Jewish neighborhood at the time. While he was stocking up on carbs, I was ordered to go across the street to an ancient drug store, the type that had a genuine soda fountain, three huge magazine racks and a separate and equally gigantic rack for comic books. My father disliked feeding my habit, but he wanted the drive to college to be as peaceful as possible and the best way to insure that was to buy me some comics. The stunt still works to this very day.

Sadly, as much as I scoured the racks I had read everything that was likely to catch my eye, and even some of the fringe titles such as The Adventures of The Fly, Our Army At War, and Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane. But I would be damned if I let such an opportunity pass. I discovered a sort of superheroish first issue from an unnamed company that I associated with monster titles that I generally passed over.

My dad came into the store to pick me up and pay for the damages. I gave him one solitary little pamphlet. One. He was amazed. “Only one?” I shrugged. “Well, we’ve gotta go, we’re late.” He literally flipped a dime across the room to the ancient man behind the counter and we began our hot, tedious trip with warnings to my young just-turned-11-years-old ass that I better shut up and behave.

I proceeded to read my one and only comic book. Within a couple pages, I was hooked. It was a monster comic, but it was also a superhero comic. It was drawn by a guy whose work I recognized and appreciated from his brief time with Green Arrow, Private Strong, and The Fly. By the time I finished the book-length story, which was rare in those days, I had already decided to reread it.

Several times, as it turned out. Dad and I both got lucky.





By Dean Koontz

Bantam Books

402 pages

Seems like there is a new trend in wrapping up great, fantastic literary journeys.  The folks at Warner Brothers wisely split the last J.K. Rowling Harry Potter book, “The Deathly Hollows” into two truly amazing movies, the finale now showing in theaters everywhere is a superb adaptation of the book’s climatic ending.

Likewise writer Dean Koontz went deliriously overboard in relating the final conflict between the mad scientist Victor Frankenstein and his pathos filled creation, the so called “monster” now known as Deaucalion and offered it to his legion of fans in two parts.  “Frankenstein: The Dead Town” is a truly fitting resolution to not only the first part of the narrative, “Lost Souls” but the entire five book series.

One of the common traits of most successful pulp writers today is that they are prolific.  The tons of words they produce daily is staggering and would make the old pulp writers proud.  Koontz is no exception in this ability.  Whereas being fast does not assure quality, only a professional competency his readers have come to expect.  Of all his series, the new Frankenstein books are easily some of his most enjoyable action heavy offerings yet.

In part four, “Lost Souls,” the town of Rainbow Falls, Montana, was being invaded by clones created with super nano-technology in a hidden missile silo long abandoned by the military.  The twisted genius behind this assault on humanity was the surviving clone of the first Victor Frankenstein; his goal, the complete eradication of all life, human, plant and animal, on the planet. Battling him at every step is Deucalion, that stitched together protagonist.  Whereas in this series, he is a near indestructible superman who has developed a truly beautiful soul and is determined to fowl his mad creator and save the world.

The fun of this, and the previous volume, is the eclectic band of town citizens, all of them unique, eccentric characters in their own right, who ultimately band together as Deucalion’s army and bravely aid him this apocalyptic battle that has the fate of all mankind resting on its outcome.  Koontz is truly a master tale spinner and in “Frankenstein – The Dead Town,” he is at his best.  And that’s saying a lot!