Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pulp Heroes: More Than Mortal & The Khan Dynasty by Wayne Reinagel

Originally published Tuesday, June 5, 2012 7:51:27 PM

I’ve chosen to review these two epics together because I read them closely together and for these two related novels, what I’ll say about one will mostly be repeated for the other.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned my love for Philip Jose Farmer’s A Feast Unknown in the past where Lord Grandith (a Tarzan stand in) and Doc Caliban (Doc Savage stand in) meet and discover some shocking revelations about their histories. Wayne Reinagel takes Farmer and goes beyond, throwing in some Wold Newton speculations for good measure and adding some of his own theories.

Both stories features analogues of many of hero pulps but focuses on Doc Titan (Doc Savage), The Darkness (The Shadow with a smidge of Marvel’s The Shroud), The Guardian (the Avenger) and The Scorpion (The Spider).

More than Mortal in essence is an epic adventure that reveals that Doc Titan, The Guardian and several other characters (or their analogues) are shown to have a connection in case that serves as grand finale for a number of pulp heroes – that’s not a spoiler as the opening of More Than Mortal is the death of one of minor pulp heroes.

The Kahn Dynasty is an earlier tale that serves as the semi prequel to The Avenger Justice Inc and a sequel to Doc Savage: Brand of the Werewolf (the introduction of Pat Savage) revealing more interconnections between the great heroes as an earlier adventure in the 1880’s impacted on our heroes today.

I enjoyed these two adventures and it was fun to read these as alternate versions of heroes I know and love with some surprising revelations.

If I had any complaints, Reinagel could do with some tighter editing – there is a tendency to reuse some of the phrasing. Two examples spring to mind from The Kahn Dynasty.

In one scene Pam Titan is packing her belongings to travel to New York and she describes her grandfather’s gun in detail to the friend helping her pack. A couple of chapters later, the story has Simon Titan getting the gun as a gift with nearly the same description.

In another scene Henry Jekyll is talking with his father and he thinks about their relationship, the point of view then changes to Jekyll’s father and he describes his relationship with his son in the exact same terms.