Tagged: Star Trek

Dennis O’Neil: Villains

O'Neil Art 130530Social commentary is pretty old news in science fiction, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that it figures prominently in what will probably turn out to be the summer’s sci-fi biggie, Star Trek Into Darkness.

Of course, if we wanted to be picky, or display our erudition, or be just a bit passive aggressive, we could point out that superheroes are science fiction, and there’s already one of those, a mighty successful one, on our local screens and another, cape furled, is waiting in the wings. But we’re not picky, show-offy or, heaven forfend, passive aggressive, so we’ll just elide past everything in the previous sentence and soldier on to the Trek flick.

I’m not a trekker, not by a stretch, but I have seen all the theatrical movies and a (pretty paltry) sampling of the video iterations. And one element has always bothered me – not a big bother, certainly not a pleasure slayer, just a nag somewhere in the far regions of whatever it is that passes for my social conscience.To wit: the implicit militarism in the Star Trek mythos.

I saw my first television Star Trek in the mid-sixties, when I was hanging with peaceniks and was recently freed from two absolutely humiliating years aboard a warship – pity me, but also pity the poor bastards whose hopeless task it was to cram me into regulations – and I was pretty sensitive to military stuff. And here came Star Trek, which, being science fiction, I was predisposed to like, but they were all wearing uniforms, the crew of the Enterprise, and they often carried sidearms and the ship itself was equipped with a futuristic version of heavy artillery and they had ranks and those ranks had a familiar sound to them: lieutenant, commander, captain, admiral…yeah, I’d met guys who carried those designations. They generally hadn’t been my pals.

Maybe back when Star Trek was but a blip on the zeitgeist, whoever was running the show did have the military in mind. But the current movie makes a point of letting us know that Star Fleet is not a military command. The ranks? Civilian vessels are run by captains and are manned by guys in uniforms.Rank does not necessarily equal warrior: duh.

(Squeaky little spoiler alert.)

What most pleases me is that the villains are not, in the final reckoning, demonized – that is they’re not portrayed as aliens.No, the chief evil-doer is your ol’ buddy the authority figure. And this is where the movie accepts the burden of social commentary: I am not the first to observe that the plot of the story is a reflection of the past decade of our history. And allow me the amusement of imagining that one character’s name on the first draft of the script might have been Cheney.

Because I’m writing these words on Memorial Day, and I have no wish to disrespect either the holiday or those it commemorates, let’s be clear: we should support our troops by giving them the equipment they need and by properly tending to their wounds and by granting them the benefits they’ve earned,and mostly by not sending them to be slaughtered in useless wars.

Now go see Star Trek Into Darkness.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Mindy Newell: Filling The Captain’s Chair

Newell Art 130529I loved Star Trek: Into Darkness.

I was riveted from the moment I planted my butt in the seat. All the major actors have made their iconic characters their own – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin all turn in stand-out performances – and the script is full of the quips, banter, arguments, and heart-to-hearts that have made the interactions and relationships between the Enterprise crew a cultural treasure.

But Star Trek: Into Darkness also disappointed me.


I suppose that from Paramount’s view – after all, Paramount had to green-light the storyline – it was smart to pick a villain out of the Star Trek archives who would be familiar to both the “Trekker” and a wider audience; but all in all, I think that this particular villain was just too easy to choose.

Yep, that’s right. The rumors were true. The villain of Star Trek: Into Darkness is…


Khan Noonian Singh.

*sigh* I so wanted it to be Gary Mitchell.

But it’s Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

Or… is it?

If you’ve already seen the movie and walked out thinking “we wuz robbed!” because there was no need to retell what was one of the most brilliant Trek stories ever, no need to reboot the movie that was really responsible for reenergizing Star Trek, you’ve missed the real villain of Into Darkness, for Abrams pulled a magnificent MacGuffin on all of us by twisting The Wrath Of Khan into something else, a trek into an “undiscovered country” – the ego of James Tiberius Kirk.

The opening scenario is not just a teaser; it’s the hinge on which the whole plot rests. You’ve seen it in ads and websites – Jim and Bones running for their lives through a red-leafed forest and jumping off a cliff into the ocean, and Spock somewhere where there’s lots of molten lava.

Returning to Earth, instead of being ballyhooed and decorated, we discover that Jim has botched a benign observation mission of an alien primitive society, totally disregarding Starfleet’s Prime Directive (“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Star Fleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation”) by (1) allowing Spock to stop a mega-volcano from erupting; and (2) revealing the Enterprise, in the course of saving Spock’s life, to the natives, who then start to worship Enterprise as some kind of “Chariot of the Gods.”

Admiral Christopher Pike tells Jim “You don’t respect the chair because you’re not ready for it, and that Starfleet had decided that Jim is to be removed from the captain’s seat and sent back to the academy.

Jim is drowning his sorrow and shame in a bar (where else?) when Pike shows up. Pike has been returned command of the Enterprise and talked Starfleet into allowing him to have Jim as his First Officer because Pike still believes in him. Jim accepts.

After a Section 31 installation is blown to bits in London (Section 31 is the Star Trek equivalent of the CIA – and it’s a cool callout to Deep Space Nine, in which Section 31 was established), Pike and Jim, along with other available starship captains and first officers, are called to a meeting at Starfleet Command, where it is revealed that the perpetrator is a former Starfleet operative named John Harrison. A gunship (which looks like a 23rd century version of a Black Hawk helicopter), strafes the meeting, killing most of the Starfleet officers, including Christopher Pike (I didn’t want him to die).  Jim not only survives the attack, but also brings down the gunship – flown by Harrison, who escapes.

Jim wants to avenge Pike’s death, and challenges Admiral Alexander Marcus (yeah, he’s Carol’s father, no duh) to reinstate him as the captain of the Enterprise, with the rest of his senior officers joining him. Marcus agrees, and orders the Enterprise to hunt down and kill Harrison, who has fled to Kronos, home to the Klingon civilization. To do this Marcus supplies the Enterprise with 72 (pay attention to that number, boys and girls) prototype photon torpedoes, which can pinpoint Harrison’s exact location on the Klingon home world, though firing on Kronos could, and probably will, start a war between the Federation and Starfleet.

Jim, hungry for payback for the death of his quasi-father (Pike) could give a shit about starting a war. All he wants is Harrison’s proverbial head on the proverbial platter. His bridge officers object to the mission; in fact, Scotty is so strongly against it he resigns from Starfleet, saying, “This is clearly a military operation. Is that what we are now? ‘Cause I thought we were explorers.” Jim promotes Chekhov to replace Scotty; though the young Ensign is not ready for the position, Jim in his bloodlust cannot see this.

And that’s the magnificent twist that Abrams pulls in rebooting TWOK. The journey Star Trek: Into Darkness isn’t really about Khan, or terrorism, or the militarization of Starfleet. It’s really the journey of James Tiberius Kirk into manhood and the right to sit in the captain’s chair.

Because, you see, Jim Kirk really is still the cocky young kid who stole and drove his uncle’s antique C2 Corvette over a cliff, even if he did defeat Nero and save Earth from that red stuff. Jim Kirk has gotten where he is, as Pike told him after he’s “crashed” the observation mission (just as he crashed his father’s car) by his “audacity, by his being in the right place at the right time, by just “plain old dumb luck and having me behind you.”

Jim’s mission, you see, is to see beyond himself, to grow up. We’ve all been on that particular mission, and let’s face it, there are times when it isn’t a very pleasant trip; it can be a journey Into Darkness, when you have to come to terms not being the king of your universe; that you are, in fact, quite expendable.

When Jim tells Spock “you are way, way better at commanding a starship,” you know he has made a giant leap forward into maturity. He has gone through the darkness, and he has accepted that, of all his command staff, he is the one who has gotten there because, well, he’s just been the guy who has been in the right place at the right time.

I won’t spoil the climax for you. Let me just say that when Jim sits in the captain’s chair in the final moments, and orders the ship to embark on Starfleet’s first five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before, Jim Kirk has become, truly, Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, NCC-1701.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases



RadioArchives.com Newsletter

May 24, 2013

Continuing to Celebrate the 80th Anniversary of Doc Savage and King Kong
Radio Archives continues to offers new King Kong and Doc Savage products, with one more still to come. Today we are proud to offer high-quality limited edition Joe DeVito posters. Click here to take a look at these four gorgeous paintings by this award winning artist.

Doc Savage: Skull Island Series 1, wraparound cover
Doc Savage: Skull Island Series 2, front cover
KONG: King of Skull Island, full montage


In the post-war years, America developed a new economic base with a new and ever-increasing standard of living. This new middle-class lifestyle, coupled with the baby boom that ran throughout the 1950s, created suburbia — with housing developments, highways, shopping centers, and all of the other hallmarks of this new society becoming the norm.
As always, radio reflected the culture of its audience — and never more so than with the rise of the situation comedy in the late 1940s.
Originally, Father Knows Best was not much different than similar situation comedies of the period, the concepts of which were basically that “daddy is a well-meaning dumbbell, but we still love him.” However, by the time the show first aired over NBC on August 25, 1949, most of the clichés had been removed, and thanks to excellent writing and the outstanding acting talents of the principals, these hilarious slices of everyday life rise above the norm to make Father Knows Best one of the highlight series of late-era network radio entertainment.
As portrayed by Robert Young, who co-created the series with writer Ed James, the title character of Jim Anderson is a successful insurance salesman. He is ambitious, likeable, and a good provider for his family — though he often grows exasperated by the turmoil of his everyday home life. The plots generally begin quite simply — Jim surprises his wife Margaret (June Whitley) with tickets to a show, for instance — then quickly become complicated as the plans, schemes, commitments, and miscommunications of their three children, Betty (Rhoda Williams), Bud (Ted Donaldson), and Kathy (Norma Jean Nilsson) and their friends and neighbors get in the way.
Heard today, Father Knows Best still retains its ability to hilariously reflect the interpersonal relationships of a typical American family, because, though times change, people don’t; raising good kids today is no easier or less complicated than it was in 1950.

The twenty shows in this collection have been digitally restored, resulting in ten full hours of family-friendly radio entertainment from one of the best and most enduring situation comedies of all time. 10 hours $29.98 Audio CDs / $14.99 Download.
Special 50% discount Offer
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is considered one of the greatest tales of horror to date. When one of the best, but most underrated producers of the Golden Age Radio added in his production and vocal skills, a true radio serial classic was born and is now collected in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Volume 1.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is just one of over 300 radio series and serials produced by George Edwards over the course of his twenty year career in radio. Telling Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of a man divided, this fifteen minute serial debuted in 1943, running for 52 episodes, and was produced by Edwards, a well-known Australian radio personality. The man behind other Australian series, such as Afloat with Henry Morgan and Adventures of Marco Polo lent not only his production skills to Jekyll and Hyde, but shared his amazing vocal talents as well. Edwards’ skill to do multiple voices in a single episode definitely fit the needs of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, Volume 1 collects the first 28 episodes, 7 hours, of one of the best serial adventures of the radio era. The intense pacing of each episode as well as the high quality production values and the talented voice acting of George Edwards and the rest of the cast make this a must have for any fan of Classic Radio.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde now features a fantastic painting by Douglas Klauba.This painting was originally painted for the Scottish Tourism Board. The background behind the image relates to Robt. L. Stevenson originally writing Jekyll and Hyde based in Edinburgh, or at least upon his boyhood memories of the city and the streets.
7 hours. Regular Price $20.98 – Specially priced until June 6 for $10.49 Audio CDs / $5.24 Download.

It was the largest, most ambitious, and most successful military operation ever attempted — and radio was there to cover it.
D-Day, the invasion of Normandy. It was the turning point of the war in Europe, the beginning of the end for the Axis as the Allies started their drive towards Germany. It was a momentous event that would change not only the course of World War II, but the history of the world. Radio Archives is pleased and proud to offer the complete and continuous NBC network coverage of the events of June 6 and 7, 1944.
Noted inspirational author Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, King Haakon VII of Norway, Premier Gerbandy of the Netherlands, Premier Pierlot of Belgium, and US Senators Clark, Barkley, White, Hill and Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce speak, as does the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. General Eisenhower speaks from SHAEF headquarters.
Regular NBC shows were included in the broadcast, “The Bob Hope Show”, “Fibber McGee & Molly”, “The Guiding Light”, “Vic & Sade”, “The Red Skelton Show”, “The Road of Life”, “Today’s Children”, “Ma Perkins”, “Pepper Young’s Family”, “Mary Noble, Backstage Wife”, “Stella Dallas”, “Lorenzo Jones”, “Young Widder Brown”, “When A Girl Marries” and “Front Page Farrell” among them.
Hear the events of the day as reported by Ben Grauer, Cesar Saerchinger, Charles F. McCarthy, David Anderson, Don Goddard, Don Hollenbeck, Ed Hocker, Edward R. Murrow, Elmer Peterson, George Wheeler, H. V. Kaltenborn, Herbert M. Clark, James Willard, John W. Vandercook, Louis P. Lockner, Lowell Thomas, Merrill Mueller, Morgan Beatty, Ralph Howard, Richard Harkness, Robert McCormick, Robert St. John, Tommy Traynor, W. W. Chaplin and Wright Bryan. Alex Dreier, in Chicago, recalled his experiences as the last western correspondent in Nazi Germany while Stanley Richardson offered an eyewitness account of the invasion from the Channel boats, and George Hicks reported from the beach-head itself!
These are recordings that many historians believe to be among the most valuable audio documents ever preserved. The NBC broadcasts — containing over 38 hours of continuous programming of news, music, drama, comedy, and entertainment — are history as it happened, in a special collection that is sure to occupy a special place in your radio collection. 38 hours. Normally priced at $113.98 Audio CDs / $56.99 Download, D-Day is Specially priced through the month of June at only $99.98 Audio CDs / $49.99 Download.
On June 6, 2004, in remembrance of the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, the ABC Radio program Perspective featured a fascinating story detailing radio’s coverage of D-Day as it happened in 1944. Written, edited, and narrated by ABC reporter Chuck Sivertsen, the feature utilized clips from the D-Day collection described above. We think this in-depth and well-presented piece provides an excellent overview of the historic content of this collection.
Will Murray’s Pulp Classics #26
Read by Doug Stone. Liner Notes by Will Murray

They called G-8 the Flying Spy. History never recorded his exploits—and for good reason! No one would ever believe World War I was that wild!
G-8, the high-flying ace pilot of World War I, was born in the front seat of a car barreling through the Holland Tunnel. His father was Robert Jasper Hogan, who had made quite a name for himself as a prolific pulp writer specializing in aviation fiction during the glamorous era now styled Between the Wars. Among practitioners of that now-lost art, this school of writing was styled Yammering Guns, after the sound of contending synchronized machine guns in furious action.
It was the summer of 1933, and despite the Great Depression, Popular Publications was booming. Part of their Autumn expansion plans entailed launching The Spider, and a companion title to be aimed at the legions of readers who drank up fictionalized accounts of World War I Allied aces versus Imperial Germany’s various bi-winged counts and barons, red and otherwise.
One of Popular’s star writers, Hogan was doubtless the first writer publisher Harry Steeger considered when casting about for a suitable scribe. The unnamed magazine was on the schedule as a monthly. The designated author would have to know his rudders and ailerons—and be reliable. Hard drinkers need not apply. And Hogan had been an air cadet during World War I, although the armistice came before he could ship out and see action.
Steeger and Hogan hashed out an idea. It was part Eddie Rickenbacker and part What Price Glory?—which was a popular Maxwell Anderson stage play turned into a motion picture. Price stressed the horrors of war as counterpoint to the sentimental comradeship of the Allies in the trenches. Only in this case, by horror, Popular Publications meant something far more horrific than mustard-gas trench warfare atrocities.
For, envisioning the expected strain on the writer’s imagination a monthly novel would enact, Steeger and Hogan agreed that the new series would soon grow stale if they didn’t spice it up with elements of the fantastic. This recipe ranged from merely super-scientific death rays to the unabashedly supernatural manifestations. Nothing was taboo in G-8. Hogan was a pioneer of over-the-top plotting generations before the term was coined.
Normally, pulp publishers put house names on such fare, to protect themselves from ill, drunken or unreliable authors. But Hogan’s byline was pure pulp gold, so Steeger took a chance. The series would carry the author’s true name. Hogan never let him down.
Driving home to New Jersey from Manhattan, Hogan passed through the Holland Tunnel. While in traffic, he worked out the details of G-8’s first wild adventure. He named his hero after a Colorado ranch where Hogan worked one summer. G-8 never had another name. His wingmen, Bull Martin and Nippy Weston, were modeled on a pair of real-life flyboys named Bull Nevin and Nippy Westover. Pulp fans have accused Hogan of copying the friendly rivalry of Doc Savage’s wartime buddies, Monk Mayfair and Ham Brooks, in his depictions of Bull and Nippy. In fact, all those characters were derived from What Price Glory?’s memorable Captain Flagg and Sergeant Quirt.
The premier tale, which appeared in the October, 1933 issue of G-8 and His Battle Aces, exemplified the outrageous approach Steeger and Hogan envisioned for the series. Hogan called it The Bat Staffel. Therein he introduced a German mad scientist who would bedevil his new hero the length and breadth of the series—some eleven tortured years. This first time out, Herr Doktor Krueger unleashed monster bats as big as bi-planes on Allied Sopwith Camels and Spads. It made for fearsome reading.
With his canvas limited to the skies over No Man’s Land during the four years encompassed by what was originally called the Great War, Hogan went for broke, escalating from terrifying tales such as The Skeleton Patrol and Squadron of the Scorpion to unchecked phantasms of terror like Satan Paints the Sky, Here Flies the Hawks of Hell and The Bloody Wings of the Vampire. Hogan had a predilection for half-human antagonists, which manifested in an annual parade of beast-men, wolf-men, leopard-men, panther-men, even rhino-men. For G-8 and his battle buddies, the War to End All Wars proved to be a very long and hairy conflict.
Once, Hogan outlined a particularly gruesome G-8 plot for a queasy  but mesmerized Popular Publications staffer. “My editor was nauseated,” he recalled. Readers ranging from ten years old to outwardly mature stockbrokers ate it up, however. They were so captivated by the Flying Spy that even the glamorous new all-metal aircraft dominating the skies of World War II didn’t squash their interest in the glorified kites of the prior conflict. It took a crushing shortage of pulp paper to force Steeger to finally and reluctantly cancel the magazine. After penning over a hundred G-8 novels, Hogan took it in stride and blithely switched over to writing quality stories for The Saturday Evening Post. His last editor was aghast. He didn’t think Hogan had it in him.
Before it was all over, G-8 battled weird menaces ranging from Martians to Zombies, with assorted undead minions of the Kaiser in between. If Hogan couldn’t concoct a fresh beast-man, why, a clutch of cave men or freshly-defrosted Viking berserkers would keep readers riveted. Recurring foes came and went. G-8 finally vanquished Herr Doktor Krueger late in the series. Or did he? Maybe they renewed their feud for World War II. If so, Hogan failed to record those encounters. No doubt they would have captivated ever-loyal fans of the one and only Flying Spy.
Through it all, Robert J. Hogan never seemed ashamed to have his Christian name attached to effusions bearing overblown titles like The Flying Coffins of the Damned. And he a minister’s son.
This inaugural G-8 audiobook is narrated by the talented Doug Stone. Stand clear! Contact! Zoooom! Tac-tac-tac-tac! Yammering Guns live again!

Nick DeGregorio composed the music for the G-8 and His Battle Aces series of audiobooks.  7 hours $27.98 Audio CDs / $13.99 Download.


RadioArchives.com and Will Murray are giving away the downloadable version of the newly released Strange Detective Mysteries audiobook for FREE.
If you prefer the Audio CDs to play in your car or home CD player, the coupon code will subtract the $11.99 price of the download version from the Audio CDs. That makes the Audio CDs half price.
Add Strange Detective Mysteries to the shopping cart and use the Coupon Code AUDIOBOOK.
“Strange Detective Mysteries #1 is one of my favorite pulps and I am excited to produce it as an audiobook with my good friends at Radio Archives. It leads off with Norvell W. Page’s bizarre novelette, “When the Death-Bat Flies,” and includes thrilling stories by Norbert Davis, Paul Ernst, Arthur Leo Zagat, Wayne Rogers and others. Popular Publications went all-out to make this 1937 debut issue a winner. And they succeeded!”
Happy listening,
Will Murray



New Will Murray’s Pulp Classics eBooks

The best of timeless Pulp now available as cutting edge eBooks! Will Murray’s Pulp Classics brings the greatest heroes, awesome action, and two fisted thrills to your eReader! Presenting Pulp Icons such as the Spider and Operator #5 as well as wonderfully obscure characters like the Octopus and Captain Satan. Will Murray’s Pulp Classics brings you the best of yesterday’s Pulp today!

Poisoned medicine had flooded New York — and overnight all hospitals had been turned into a hell of betrayed human sufferers! For a strange and incredible horror had gripped the metropolis. Men gazed, terrified, upon a greenish Skull, glowing evilly in the darkness, then died! And no physician nor science could save them from unbelievable agony and death! Where once happy healthy citizens had dwelt was now a city of defleshed corpses. No help could come from the baffled police; and mercy in Manhattan was a forgotten word. Yet one man did not fear to challenge the Terror. Richard Wentworth, as the Spider, set out to find a way to battle the Skull — and save an entire city from an Epidemic of Poison Death! Total Pulp Experience. These exciting pulp adventures have been beautifully reformatted for easy reading as an eBook and features every story, every editorial, and every column of the original pulp magazine. $2.99.

What were these batlike monsters? What was the strange death they carried? G-8 and his ace buddies follow this horror staffel straight into action skies! G-8 and his Battle Aces rode the nostalgia boom ten years after World War I ended. These high-flying exploits were tall tales of a World War that might have been, featuring monster bats, German zombies, wolf-men, harpies, Martians, and even tentacled floating monsters. Most of these monstrosities were the work of Germany’s seemingly endless supply of mad scientists, chief of whom was G-8’s recurring Nemesis, Herr Doktor Krueger. G-8 battled Germany’s Halloween shock troops for over a decade, not ceasing until the magazine folded in the middle of World War II. G-8 and his Battle Aces return in vintage pulp tales, reissued for today’s readers in electronic format. $2.99.



In 1934 a new type of magazine was born. Known by various names — the shudder pulps, mystery-terror magazines, horror-terror magazines — weird menace is the sub-genre term that has survived today. Dime Mystery Magazine was one of the most popular. It came from Popular Publications, whose publisher Harry Steeger was inspired by the Grand Guignol theater of Paris. This breed of pulp story survived less than ten years, but in that time, they became infamous, even to this day. This ebook contains a collection of stories from the pages of Dime Mystery Magazine, all written by Wyatt Blassingame, reissued for today’s readers in electronic format. $2.99.


In 1934 a new type of magazine was born. Known by various names — the shudder pulps, mystery-terror magazines, horror-terror magazines — weird menace is the sub-genre term that has survived today. Terror Tales magazine was one of the most popular. It came from Popular Publications, whose publisher Harry Steeger was inspired by the Grand Guignol theater of Paris. This breed of pulp story survived less than ten years, but in that time, they became infamous, even to this day. This ebook contains a collection of stories from the pages of Terror Tales magazine by Wyatt Blassingame, reissued for today’s readers in electronic format. $2.99.

99 cent eBook Singles
Each 99 cent eBook Single contains a single short story, one of the many amazing tales selected from the pages of Terror Tales and Rangeland Romances. These short stories are not included in any of our other eBooks.
Perhaps the horrors Robert Brundage saw in that laboratory of Prince Ahmed had made him mad. Perhaps… In 1934 a new type of magazine was born. Known by various names — the shudder pulps, mystery-terror magazines, horror-terror magazines — weird me most popular. It came from Popular Publications, whose publisher Harry Steeger was inspired by the Grand Guignol theater of Paris. This breed of pulp story survived less than ten years, but in that time, they became infamous, even to this day. This ebook contains a classic story from the pages of Terror Tales magazine, reissued for today’s readers in electronic format. $0.99.

A grinning death’s-head led Stephen Benedict to a house of hell, where hanging corpses looked down with sightless eyes on ugly, midnight rites. Known by various names — the shudder pulps, mystery-terror magazines, horror-terror magazines — weird me most popular. It came from Popular Publications, whose publisher Harry Steeger was inspired by the Grand Guignol theater of Paris. This breed of pulp story survived less than ten years, but in that time, they became infamous, even to this day. This ebook contains a classic story from the pages of Terror Tales magazine, reissued for today’s readers in electronic format. $0.99.

By hiring handsome Jim Raleigh on her ranch, Beth hoped to make Carter Ganes jealous enough to propose to her. But in carefully stacking Cupid’s deck — Beth forgot one two-faced queen!.” One of the most popular settings for romance stories was the old west, where men were men and women were women. As many a swooning damsel could attest, “There’s something about a cowboy.” The western romance became one of the most popular types of magazines sold during the early and mid-twentieth century. $0.99.

Beautiful tomboy Nell could stand most anything – now that she was going to marry Lew – except Bill giving her a pretty silk nightgown… as a wedding present. One of the most popular settings for romance stories was the old west, where men were men and women were women. As many a swooning damsel could attest, “There’s something about a cowboy.” The western romance became one of the most popular types of magazines sold during the early and mid-twentieth century. $0.99.

All eBooks produced by Radio Archives are available in ePub, Mobi, and PDF formats for the ultimate in compatibility. When you upgrade to a new eReader, you can transfer your eBook to your new device without the need to purchase anything new.
Find these legendary Pulp tales and more in Will Murray’s Pulp Classics, now available at:
Search for RadioArchives.com in iTunes.

Receive an exciting original Spider adventure FREE! Part of the Will Murray Pulp Classics line, The Spider #11, Prince of the Red Looters first saw print in 1934 and features his momentous battle with The Fly and his armies of crazed criminal killers.
For those who have been unsure about digging into the wonderful world of pulps, this is a perfect chance to give one of these fantastic yarns a real test run. With a full introduction to the Spider written by famed pulp historian and author Will Murray, The Spider #11 was written by one of pulp’s most respected authors, Norvell W. Page. Writing as Grant Stockbridge, Page’s stories included some of the most bizarre and fun takes on heroes and crime fighting in the history of escapist fiction.
Even today Page’s scenarios and his edge-of-the-seat writing style are still thrilling both new and old fans everywhere. For those who have never read one of these rollercoaster adventures, you are in for a thrill. If you already know how much fun a classic pulp is, make sure you get a copy of this classic.

See what the Total Pulp Experience is for yourself. These exciting pulp adventures have been beautifully reformatted for easy reading as an eBook and features every story, every editorial, and every column of the original pulp magazine.
Send an eMail to eBooks@RadioArchives.com and start reading your FREE copy of  the Spider #11 within seconds! Experience The Best Pulps the Past has to offer in the most modern way possible!


Pulp fiction’s Master of Men returns in two classic stories from one of the pulp era’s best selling magazines. First, in “Scourge of the Yellow Fangs” (1937), a hidden fiend preys on the city’s Chinatown. Soon, a new menace begins to spread, threatening to engulf Asian and Caucasian alike. Only The Spider has guessed the identify of the ruthless criminal behind the atrocities committed on the nation’s newest citizens – but can he survive after being targeted for a ghastly death? Next, in “Death and The Spider” (1942), from Mar-lar-delan, ancient lama of Tibet, came the prophecy that when Death walked the Earth as a man, The Spider would die! Beseiged by terror and murder, the city struggles to survive as criminal forces rally to the man called Death! These two exciting pulp adventures have been beautifully reformatted for easy reading and feature both of the original full color covers as well as interior illustrations that accompany each story. On sale for $12.95, save $2.00

The Dark Avenger wages war on organized super-crime in two classic pulp mysteries by Walter B. Gibson writing as “Maxwell Grant.” First, a city’s financial system is threatened by the murderous machinations of “Intimidation, Inc.,” until The Shadow beats them at their own game! Then, the Knight of Darkness strives to unmask the “Wizard of Crime,” the hidden financial genius behind Intimidation, Inc., in a rare shadowy sequel. This instant collector’s item showcases the classic color pulp covers by George Rozen and the original interior illustrations by Tom Lovell and Paul Orban, with commentary by popular culture historian Will Murray.$14.95.


The original “Man of Steel” returns in three action-packed pulp thrillers by Paul Ernst and Emile Tepperman writing as “Kenneth Robeson.” First, The Avenger is blamed when massive power outages black out North America. Can Dick Benson locate the mastermind called Nevlo in time to prevent a deadly final blackout? Then, Death in Slow Motion cripples an American industry, and Justice, Inc. must find an antidote in time to save hundreds from the deadly paralysis plague! Finally, a defeated crook returns to plot Vengeance on The Avenger in an exciting novelette by Spider-wordsmith Emile Tepperman. This classic pulp reprint includes both color covers by Graves Gladney, Paul Orban’s dynamic interior illustrations and commentary by pulp historian Will Murray. $14.95.

80th Anniversary Commemorative Special. Commemorating the Man of Bronze’s anniversary with two expanded novels, restored from Lester Dent’s original manuscripts with never-before-published text! First, a Wall Street scandal sets the Man of Bronze on the golden trail of “The Midas Man,” who plots to control the global financial system. Then, while recovering from a serious head wound, a disoriented Doc Savage battles modern-day pirates and murderous zombies in “The Derelict of Skull Shoal.” PLUS: “80 Years of Doc Savage”: a Pictorial History of the Pulps’ Greatest Superman! This landmark collector’s edition features the original color pulp covers by Walter M. Baumhofer and Modest Stein, Paul Orban’s original interior illustrations and new historical commentary by Will Murray, writer of eleven Doc Savage novels. $14.95.


80th Anniversary Commemorative Special. Commemorating the Man of Bronze’s anniversary with two expanded novels, restored from Lester Dent’s original manuscripts with never-before-published text! First, a Wall Street scandal sets the Man of Bronze on the golden trail of “The Midas Man,” who plots to control the global financial system. Then, while recovering from a serious head wound, a disoriented Doc Savage battles modern-day pirates and murderous zombies in “The Derelict of Skull Shoal.” PLUS: “80 Years of Doc Savage”: a Pictorial History of the Pulps’ Greatest Superman! This landmark collector’s edition features the original color pulp covers by Walter M. Baumhofer and Modest Stein, Paul Orban’s original interior illustrations and new historical commentary by Will Murray, writer of eleven Doc Savage novels. $14.95.

This is an authentic replica of an original pulp magazine published by Girasol Collectables. This edition is designed to give the reader an authentic taste of what a typical pulp magazine was like when it was first issued – but without the frailty or expense of trying to find a decades-old collectable to enjoy. The outer covers, the interior pages, and the advertisements are reprinted just as they appeared in the original magazine, left intact to give the reader the true feel of the original as well as an appreciation for the way in which these publications were first offered to their avid readers. To further enhance the “pulp experience”, this edition is printed on off-white bond paper intended to simulate the original look while, at the same time, assuring that this edition will last far longer than the original upon which it is based. The overall construction and appearance of this reprint is designed to be as faithful to the original magazine as is reasonably possible, given the unavoidable changes in production methods and materials. $35.00
Will Murray’s Monumental New Novel
Doc Savage vs. King Kong!
Eighty years ago in February, 1933 the Street & Smith company released the first issue of Doc Savage Magazine, introducing one of the most popular and influential pulp superheroes ever to hit the American scene. Doc Savage was the greatest adventurer and scientist of his era, and while his magazine ended in 1949, he influenced the creators of Superman, Batman, Star Trek, The Man from UNCLE and the Marvel Universe—to name only a few.
While that first issue of Doc Savage was fresh on Depression newsstands, RKO Radio Pictures released one of the most important fantasy films of all time. Everyone knows the story of how King Kong was discovered on Skull Island and hauled back to New York in chains, only to perish tragically atop the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Empire State Building.
As it happened, that was where Doc Savage had his world headquarters. For decades, fans have wondered: Where was Doc the day Kong fell?
On the eightieth anniversary of these fictional giants, Altus Press is proud to release the first authorized clash between The Man of Bronze and the Eighth Wonder of the World—Doc Savage: Skull Island. Written by Will Murray in collaboration with Joe DeVito, creator of KONG: King of Skull Island, Doc Savage: Skull Island is a new pulp epic.
The story opens when Doc returns from his secret retreat in the North Pole to discover the cold corpse of Kong lying on his doorstep.
“I know this creature,” Doc tells his dumbfounded men.
Tasked to dispose of the remains, the Man of Bronze then relates the untold story of his epic encounter with Kong back in 1920, after Doc returns from service in World War I, long before Kong became known to the civilized world as “King” Kong.
Doc Savage: Skull Island is a multi-generational story in which Doc and his father—the man who placed him in the hands of scientists who made him into a superman—sail to the Indian Ocean in search of Doc’s grandfather, the legendary Stormalong Savage, whose famous clipper ship has been discovered floating, deserted, her masts snapped by some incredible force.
The quest for Stormalong Savage leads to the fog-shrouded Indian Ocean and—Skull Island! There, Doc Savage faces his first great test as he encounters its prehistoric dangers and tangles with the towering, unstoppable Kong.
“When Joe DeVito brought this idea to me,” says Will Murray, “I knew it had to be written with reverence for both of these immortal characters. So I used the locale of Skull Island to tell a larger story, an untold origin for Doc Savage. It all started back on Skull Island….”
“Pulling off the first ever face-off between Doc Savage and King Kong was both challenging and exhilarating,” adds DeVito. “Will’s unique take on the tale scatters the primordial mists surrounding Skull Island long enough to reveal secrets of both classic characters hidden since their creation.”
Doc Savage: Skull Island has already been hailed as “The Doc Savage novel that Doc fans have been waiting on for 80 years!”
Doc Savage: Skull Island is the fifth entry in Altus Press’ popular Wild Adventures of Doc Savage series. Cover by Joe DeVito. $24.95.

By Dr. Art Sippo


While walking on the street, Doc Savage has his pocket picked. Well, not exactly. A pick-pocket puts something into his pocket.  It is a warning that if he would prevent death to thousands, he should go to a house in a New Jersey marsh. When Doc and his crew arrive there, they witness a weird explosion that digs a perfectly straight symmetrical canal in an instant. As they did deeper into the mystery, they encounter the Cold Death, a hand-held weapon that shoots a beam of incandescent light which is as cold as the depths of space yet can cut a man in half in an instant. The ray beam is turned on Doc Savage and even the bronze man almosts succumbs to a freezing death! This weapon is the trigger to the most powerful explosive ever known: an explosive that harnesses the power of the atom itself. It is the key to a master plan of extortion where entire cities are held hostage. And New York is the first city on the list! At the center of this plan is a man with weird eyes that glow in the dark who appears to be the mastermind behind the scheme.
Who is the mystery man? Where does he come from? What is this weapon that brings Cold Death? Can even Doc Savage prevail against such a doomsday weapon?
This story was written in 1936 yet it eerily predicts laser-like weapons and the explosive power of nuclear fusion. The threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists and fanatics is timelier today than when the story was first printed. This is one of my favorites of the weird science Doc Savage sagas.  Don’t Miss it! Double Novel reprint $12.95


Comments From Our Customers!

Dominick Cancilla writes:

I saw your note on the OTR list about your work with Radio Archives and wanted to drop you a quick note to thank you. I have purchased every single pulp audiobook Radio Archives has put out and enjoy them immensely.
Captain Satan and Captain Zero which you performed, were two of my favorites. You mentioned having a good time creating these, and I think that enthusiasm really shows in your performance. I am particularly impressed by your ability to deliver this kind of material without any hint of corniness or campiness. It makes me, as a listener, feel as if I’m “back in the day” reading the book as it was intended.


If you’d like to share a comment with us or if you have a question or a suggestion send an email to Service@RadioArchives.com. We’d love to hear from you!


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Martha Thomases Boldly Goes…

Thomases Art 120524Some random thoughts about Star Trek: Into Darkness.

I loved the original series when it started on NBC in 1966. It was around the time I started to read science fiction, so it felt incredibly reinforcing to see my newly beloved genre on a screen in my home. I thrilled to the smart plots, and didn’t care about the cheesy special effects. There weren’t any other kind on television at the time. I loved the banter among the leads, especially from my favorite character, “Bones” McCoy. I complained as loudly as a teenage girl can complain when it was cancelled. That said, I only watched it in syndication sporadically, and I never got into any of the sequels.

Not even the one with Scott Bakula, whom I adore.

So when J. J. Abrams was tasked with reinventing the franchise, I wasn’t too upset. If he took liberties, he took liberties. Either the movies would be good, or they wouldn’t. As someone who read all the Ian Fleming Bond books and has seen every James Bond movie, even the terrible later Roger Moore ones, I have a pretty strong stomach for filmmakers who take liberties with their source material.

Kirk is really a macho asshole, isn’t he? I mean, you could tell from the original series, but it was the 1960s, and macho assholes were all the rage. It was really obvious in this movie. Yeah, he learned a lesson, and grew as a human being, but I suspect he would still be really annoying to sit next to on an airplane.

Bones may still be my favorite. In this particular movie, he was stuck regurgitating all the catch phrases, and yet Karl Urban still manages to maintain his poise. Not easy. Just ask Joe Biden.

A few female characters were actually allowed to have story lines, or at least the inference that, if we looked at the story from another viewpoint, they would be the heroic characters. Zoe Saldana as Uhura is especially brave. It’s as if her life is about more than just being in a relationship with Spock.

I would hope this is an indication of the film makers’ perspectives. Fringe had a female protagonist, as do many other 21st century entertainments.

Certainly, the women on Game of Thrones are the most compelling characters, and that’s one of the top-ten highest rated programs on television. There is money to be made with giving women in the audience someone to admire. Yay, capitalism!

A lot of the reason I went to see this movie in the theater, instead of waiting for it to show up on cable, was Benedict Cumberbatch. He is a wonderful villain, just as he is a fantastic protagonist. And he’s a commanding presence on screen, except sometimes I get distracted because he reminds me of Neil Gaiman .

I am not the only person distracted, although not everyone thinks he looks like Neil. Some are reminded of others.

As the summer goes on, and more blockbuster movies open, you could do worse than spend a couple of hours on the Enterprise. Live long and prosper, my friends.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

Paramount Unveils Star Trek Into Darkness SmartGlass Function

1. home screenJust in time for the theatrical debut of the highly-anticipated STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, Xbox 360 owners can experience director J.J. Abrams’ original STAR TREK like never before with Xbox SmartGlass.

Using a SmartGlass-enabled tablet or phone, the STAR TREK SmartGlass experience delivers behind-the-scenes content, deleted scenes, concept art of the U.S.S. Enterprise and more, all time-synched with the film.  The second screen intelligently interacts with the Xbox 360 to elevate the entertainment experience, allowing viewers to boldly go inside the phenomenal reimagining.  Plus, the STAR TREK SmartGlass application even includes a sneak peek at one of the biggest movie events of the summer: STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS.

The STAR TREK SmartGlass experience is available now on Xbox 360.

REVIEW: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful CreaturesIn the wake of Star Wars’ massive and surprisingly success, studios went looking for the next Star Wars. We’ve seen this cycle again and again, which has led to some good things (the revival of Star Trek in 1979) and some bad (the original Battlestar Galactica). In the wake of Stephanie Meyer’s perplexingly popular Twilight, publishers and film studios alike have been demanding the next Twilight. Hungry authors have been more than happy to fill the order with way too many urban fantasies reading like made-to-order hash. What everyone loses sight of is that Star Wars and Twilight each staked out territory that had not been overly mined in the period before their arrival. So, what makes any of the imitators succeed is how well executed it is and how much the formula is given fresh ingredients to keep it from feeling like warmed up leftovers.

In 2009, authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl admittedly tried to cash in on the craze and came up with Beautiful Creatures, which turned the formula on its head and eschewed vampires and werewolves for witches with a dash of legacy tossed in. The book also worked because they brought a level of craft to the writing with some terrific first-person narration and characterization that brought the world to life. It was popular enough to earn sequels comprising the four volume Caster Chronicles.


Warner Bros., eager to find a franchise of its own to rival Twilight and replace the failed Golden Compass, snapped this up and released the filmed adaptation in February. It met with mediocre reviews and ho hum box office, dooming prospects for sequels. The movie is out tomorrow from Warner Home Video in their combo pack (Blu-ray, DVD, Ultraviolet).


The basic story remains the same and the film itself is not bad, but fails to properly capture the tone of the book. Considering this was written and directed by Richard LaGravenese this is surprising given how engaging his Fisher King script was and his previous experience with fantasy, writing the screenplay for The Voyage of the Dawn Traeder.

Wisely, he cast the film with relative unknowns in the lead and surrounded them with veteran presences who were not such Big Names that they overwhelmed the film’s focal point. Alden Ehrenrich and Alice Englert look and act like teens, characters trapped in their surroundings, one trying to get out, the other to fit in. Gatlin, South Carolina is like many other small towns so the newcomer, Alice’s Lena, is immediately the subject of gossip and made to feel unwelcome. All Alden’s Ethan wants is to graduate and say goodbye to his hometown. However, he’s also been plagued with nightmares featuring a girl, who now looks remarkably like Lena.

sm-0219-017f-film.rw_s300Ethan wants to get to know the newcomer, trying to figure out their obvious connection but is thwarted by her father Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), Mavis (Emma Thompson) and cousin Ridley (Emmy Rossum). The creepy family turns out to be one of Casters (as in spellcasters or witches and warlocks) each trying to influence Lena who is reaching the point where she decides if she wants to be a Good Witch or a Bad Witch.

That the Duchannes clan uses magic sets up some interesting themes about magic and religion, faith and love, but it’s all on the surface. The classmates think the family comes from the local Hellmouth and everyone takes sides, with no one straddling a middle ground, robbing the film of a chance to, ahem, stake out some fresh storytelling territory.

Beautiful Creatures Rossum

The novel explores the relationships far better than the film, which is a shame given the rich cast, who largely go wasted. Thompson’s Sarafine (where do they find these odd names?) arrives some 45 minutes into the story and does little while Rossum is deliciously sly and sexy but has nowhere near enough screen time. Then there’s poor Viola Davis who is bookkeeper to Ethan’s family and a secret caster librarian. Such potential. Such a waste.

The video transfer is serviceable although unspectacular and the sound is perfectly fine so this makes for a satisfying home viewing experience. For something intended as the beginning of a new franchise, one would have hoped for more interesting assortment of bonus features but much as the book was made to order, so are these featurettes.

“Book to Screen” (3:58) briefly covers the adaptation process and I wanted to hear more from LaGravenese about the choices he made; “The Casters” (3:22) is another too brief chat with the lead teens and their thoughts on the characters; “Between Two Worlds” (4:17) uses the rest of the cast in similar conversation; “Alternate Worlds” (5:17) gives us a look at the special effects; “Designing the Costumes” (3:51); and, four deleted scenes (8:10), none of which are missed. You also get the theatrical trailers which imply the film is broader than it actually turns out to be.

John Ostrander: Improving On The Legends

39583There’s a constant desire these days, it appears, to try to improve on existing works. That’s not a bad idea except when it is a bad idea. A good character, a good concept, that’s been around for a while needs to have the barnacles taken off every so often to make it fresh and work better. Movies adapted from comics have to take a good look at the source material and then tweak and change it to make it work for the big/small screen.

For me, the problem comes when the concept is changed willy-nilly until you can no longer recognize it. When J.J. Abrams re-booted the Star Trek franchise a few years back, I was dubious but I genuinely enjoyed the result (as of this writing, I haven’t seen the sequel). I can understand many hardcore Trek fans not sharing my enthusiasm. For them, Abrams wandered too far from the zeitgeist of Star Trek. I think it was nephew Bill who said to me, “I love Star Wars. But if I wanted to watch Star Wars, I’d watch Star Wars. This is Star Trek.” (He’ll get his opportunity to see an Abrams Star Wars film in the future, if he’s so inclined.)

We see it all the time in comics. Characters are re-imagined on a constant basis. The only constant is change, it would seem. Change for the sake of change, however, is not always a good plan.

I’ve been as guilty of it as the next writer. Years ago, Marvel approached me with coming up with a new pitch for The Punisher. The fans had gotten burned out with the multitude of Punisher titles and the concept was moribund.

I’ll be honest; I wasn’t much of a Punisher fan. I felt he was one-dimensional and Frank Castle had wiped out enough Mafiosi over the years to populate a small city. I told them I’d try to come up with something and what I came up with was – Castle joins a Mafia family. I thought they’d never go for it, but they did.

Different? You bet. Wrong? Yup. Did the readers buy it? Nope. It wasn’t The Punisher. I had wandered off the essential concept.

I wasn’t on the book all that long (18 issues) and, late in the run, the concept of Castle switching sides was dropped and we played a different game – Castle, as a result of an explosion, had lost his memory. He didn’t know he was the Punisher, he couldn’t remember his family being killed, but he still had the same skills, the same instincts. Frank Castle was still The Punisher although he didn’t know it. This worked better but the series was cancelled before we could get too far; in fact, we wound it up in Heroes For Hire that I was scripting at the time. Perhaps if we had gone with the amnesia angle from the start, it might have worked better.

A revamp or a remake works if you can define what makes a given character to be that character. You want to get down to the basics, not ignore them. For example, we’ve seen in recent years three different versions of Sherlock Holmes, two set in modern times. They all work more or less because they all keep key elements of the concept.

Sometimes a revamp can be quite radical. Late in my run on GrimJack, I booted the character down his own timeline and into a new body, a new persona and a whole new supporting cast. His soul was the same but it gave me, and the reader, a chance to look at the character with fresh eyes. To my mind, it stayed true to the concept of the character and the location.

My rule of thumb: if you look at a character after a revamp and you could simply give the character another name, then you’ve wandered off the concept. So long as you remain true to the basic ideas that makes a given character unique until him/herself, then it doesn’t matter how radical their evolution. First, they have to be true to themselves.




REVIEW: Superboy the Complete Second Season

D500Alexander and Ilya Salkind had sold Superman to the Golan-Globus Group/Cannon but wisely retained the rest of the family including Superboy. Thanks to Star Trek: The Next Generation pioneering first run syndication in 1987, the Salkinds realized the Teen of Steel would be perfect. Looking to produce this on the cheap, they set up shop in Florida, hired science fiction hack Fred Freiberger to produce and hired a slate of newcomers to fill the iconic roles of Clark Kent, Ma and Pa Kent, Lana Lang, Lex Luthor, et. al. The series debuted in 1988 with 25 episodes and was pretty laughable stuff. Freiberger was past his sell-by date and the Salkinds didn’t know how to handle the half-hour drama format.

Still, the ratings from the 95% of the country the series reached were strong enough to keep them going. However, changes needed to be made. Freiberger was shoved out and Salkind favorite Cary Bates stopped writing comics to become Executive Story Consultant with Mark Jones.  John Haymes Newton was asked to return the cape rather than give him a salary bump. Gerard Christopher, a more nuanced actor, became the last son of Krypton and thankfully had nice chemistry with Stacy Haiduk’s Lana. Also out was the character of TJ White with Andy McAlister the new comic relief. As performed by Ilan Mitchell-Smith, his scenes are cringe-worthy.

Superboy and Lana

As a result, the second season, out now from Warner Archive, is a far stronger, more satisfying collection of 26 episodes. Contained on three discs, this stripped down collection comes complete with bumpers and coming attractions but no other extra features. The transfers are nice and clean so with the series never having been rerun in the States, this is your chance to check it out.


Along with Bates, the team of Andy Helfer and Mike Carlin moved from vetting the scripts to writing more than a few. With Denny O’Neil also back for more and Bates penning a bunch, there was a definite stronger feeling to the stories and characters. With less than thirty minutes to tell a story using the regulars and guest stars, there’s very little in the way of depth or character development. As a result, the brilliant approach to Clark Kent slowly mastering his powers and coming to grips with his responsibility as seen in Smallville is all but absent here. Instead, the fully function hero is merely a younger version of Superman as he faces off with the adult’s rogues gallery including Metallo and Bizarro. Salkind and Bates teamed up for a pair of stories with Dracula while Bates plucked the Yellow Peri from Action Comics for a tale. O’Neill brought back Mr. Mxyzptlk and as portrayed by Michael J. Pollard, is more slacker than imp.

There’s a loose continuity episode to episode, beginning with season opener as Sherman Howard went bald as Luthor, replacing the previous season’s Scott Wells. His threat hangs over the beginning of the season and comes back later on while Dracula and others add a bit of spine to the stories. A highlight for this season is the appearance of Britt Ekland and George Lazenby, claiming to be Lara and Jor-El, still alive. This two-parter from Bates and Jones is emotionally compelling in ways many of the other episodes are not.

Given the Florida shooting, noteworthy guest performers were few and far between so beyond those two, Keye Luke and Gilbert Gottfried (as the mischievous Nick Knack) are as noteworthy as it gets.

The regulars all look too old for their college setting and Haiduk’s ‘80s hair does not age well but there’s a lot more charm the second time around and it’s well worth a look.

REVIEW: Wonder Woman (1974)

D500When even Joss Whedon can’t nail a character, you know there’s a problem. For decades now, film and television has been struggling to take Wonder Woman from the comics and bring her to a wider audience. So far, they’ve managed the Super Friends and the delightfully awful television series with picture-perfect Lynda Carter. However, there are scores of failed attempts beginning with the truly awful William Dozier-produced try out footage through last year’s cringe-worthy attempt from David E. Kelly.

Perhaps the most maligned of the attempts is the ABC Movie of the Week, Wonder Woman, which aired once in March 1974 and did well enough in the ratings for a series to be considered but was seriously retooled into the Carter vehicle. Thanks to Warner Archive, that 73 minute effort is now available for completists everywhere.

Yes, she’s Diana, princess of the Amazons and sent to man’s world. Somehow the unnamed Queen mother has decided the time has come for men everywhere to learn that women are of equal value so sends Diana to teach them. The very next scene has her playing the not very liberated role of secretary to Steve Trevor, who heads some federal agency. Absurdly, ten books with the names of 39 strategic agents around the world have been stolen by international mystery man Abner Smith. With seventy-two hours before they are exposed, the United States has to recover the books or pay millions in ransom. While a bunch of suits are given an hour to ponder the dilemma; Steve, with a wink and a nod, let’s Diana to take time off to see her “dentist”.

Wonder Woman MontalbanSo much is left unexplained starting with how the Amazons have learned about the outside world and how Diana has acclimated to life in America. Her exact powers are never outlined nor is her bizarre not-very-secret identity. As written by executive producer John D.F. Black, we are expected to accept things on face value and go with it which is odd considering his extensive credits in dramatic television, including an influential role in the first half season of Star Trek.

Wonder Woman tracks down Smith, based in a nicely appointed hideout deep within the north face of the Grand Canyon. There’s some fighting, some deering-do and the odd arrival of fellow Amazon Angela, who has jealously followed Diana to the outside world to seek the wealth it offers.

Wonder Woman and GeorgeThe story makes no sense nor does this serve well as any sort of a pilot. What is interesting, though, is the banter between Diana and Smith or Diana and Smith’s flunky George. Here, Black demonstrates some nicely handled character, letting the bad guys be a bit more multidimensional than the star. It helps that Smith is played by Ricardo Montalban, decked out all in white long before he set up shop on Fantasy Island. He nicely chews the scenery and has nice chemistry with the Amazon Princess, woodenly played by tennis pro turned actress Cathy Lee Crosby. In civilian garb or an Olympic outfit masquerading as her costume, she lacks the imposing physique of an Amazon and her action sequences are not very athletic-looking.

George is played with some relish by Andrew Prine who makes the most of his sidekick role. The rest of the cast is there to advance the story, nothing more, so Kaz Garas as Trevor or the fine character actor Richard X. Slattery have absolutely nothing to work with. Director Vincent McEveety, another Trek alum, does a by-the-numbers job with the story, making it look generic.

I recall watching this as a teen and was appalled, stunned to learn that ABC actually thought enough of it to go to a series of TV movies a year later. Thankfully, by then, they jettisoned Crosby for Carter and in November 1975, we got our first glimpse of what would be an icon of the decade.

The Toxic Avenger Meets Conan

The Toxic Avenger Meets Conan

With all the remakes these days, there are few properties that have not been dusted off and shined up for new audiences. In the wake of a new James Bond, a forthcoming Crow, a rebooted Star Trek, yet another Jack Ryan and three different Hulks, we are now promised a wrathful Toxic Avenger. What’s most interesting about this Troma classic character being revived is that it is associated with former Cimmerian, former governor and all-around fascinating  Arnold Schwarzenegger.