Tag Archives: detective

Box of Books part 2

More treasures from my box of books . . .

huckfin

I like Twain a lot. This is my favorite. It’s such a silly book sometimes. And it also has a lot to say. A messy masterpiece. My favorite part is when Huck decides he’s just not good enough of a person to do the right thing and return Jim to his owners. He decides he’ll just help his friend even if that means going to hell. More of us should have this kind of morality. Also this book inspired me to take a raft down the Missouri to the Mississippi to New Orleans. Although I haven’t done it yet.

maltese falcon

My freshman year in college I couldn’t get enough old timey private detective stuff. I ate up Hammett and Raymond Chandler. If I could have figured out how, I would have dropped out and opened up my own agency. I knew that was a stupid juvenile idea, but dang it seemed like it would be fun. Alas that was a dream I didn’t follow.

earth is lords

Garage sale find, summer of ’86. I would have left it but a guy I was painting houses with at the time suggested it. (He was working on his PhD in poetry at the time.) It’s an epically told story of Genghis Khan. It’s pretty sweet. I started to read it to the kids once. We made it as far as his birth, graphically told, his uncle reaching in to remove the child from his sister and bringing a bloody Genghis into the world. Not sure why we didn’t make it any further than that. I’m willing to give it another read though.

Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction

crime fiction

Here’s’ about 20 crime stories written or published from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. The stories range from deep and dark to short and sweet, well, sweet for a crime story.  At one point I had to take a break from the book as one of the stories was really dark. Twisted dark. Hopeless.  When I picked it back up again, I read the first line of the next story. “At twenty-five minutes past midnight on 51st Street, the wind-chill factor was so sharp it could carve you a new asshole.” That story was dark to, but not hopeless, and by one of the best short story writers around, Harlan Ellison. There were several stories here that I enjoyed.  I have a soft spot for the hard boiled detective. There was I time when I read all the Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler I could get my hands on.  Heck, I wanted to be Hammett: writer, Pinkerton agent, bad-ass. So those stories were good.  I liked “Soft Monkey,” Ellison’s story with the great opening line.  I liked “This World, Then the Fireworks,” the story that influenced me to give the book a rest.  I told myself I’d read that story again just to be sure it was a creepy as it seemed (the depravity in that one was subtle). I even liked the over-the-top story of the men forced to fight to the death in a pit by crazy snake-handling Appalachian hillbillies. (Not so subtle that one.)

One thing I would do differently next time I come across a book of short stories in my to-read pile is not read it straight through. That doesn’t give me enough time to digest the gems or forget the dogs, and they get a bit mixed in my head. Instead I’ll make it my Monday night treat (or whatever day), something to be savored and enjoyed rather than hurried through like a novel.

judomaster96

judomasterJudomaster #96 is a 1978 reprint originally published in 1967.  No artist or writer are given for the Judomaster story, but the Sarge Steel story is attributed to Steve Skeates with art by Dick Giordano.  Judomaster takes place during World War II, I think.  I’m not sure what the military significance of the Judomaster’s secret island is, but there seems to be some because the “imperial warlords” (that could be WWII, right?) are investing a lot of resources to know what’s happening there. Eventually the island is discovered by the Japanese, a word that never appears in this book, although it would have been a welcome alternative to the constant use of Jap. In fact the Japanese have seemingly recruited none other than Judomaster’s girl, Suzi, to feed them secret information. This results in some bad guys storming the island, and a big martial arts showdown between Judomaster and his arch-rival, The Acrobat. The fight, which takes place in the ocean and on land, and lasts for several pages, is pretty fun.  It’s also informative, explaining judo moves (I have no idea how accurately) throughout.

shimewaza

The fight ends with the dramatic unmasking of The Acrobat.  In the last panel, Judomaster holds Suzi’s face in his hands, and tells her.

butinthemeantime

“But in the meantime . . .” seems to me to indicate an amazing judo-style make out session is about to go down. Good for them.

So seriously, was the use of jap still a thing to print in comic books in the 70s or even the 60s?  I knew one guy who used that term, but he was old and had fought against them in the war. I didn’t count the number of times the word was used in this book, but if I’d taken a shot every time it occurred, I’d have never made it to the end of the story. So that was a little off-putting.  Also, and I won’t make a big deal of this because the story is almost 50 years old, Judomaster is a white man, leading the good brown men against the bad brown men, and then colonizing a brown woman at the end of the story.  But what do you expect for 35 cents in 1978?

How about a hard boiled detective with a left hand made of (I presume) steel. It was this story that made me double check the copyright date, as at one point Sarge Steel is lead at gunpoint into “a print shop . . . Where they put together those thin volumes of beat poetry!” Still a bit dated for ’67. Anyway, the story is fine–I like a hard boiled detective–if a bit rushed. The thing is, if your hero has a steel hand, let’s break that bad boy out! Sarge only uses it once, to block a bullet.

clang

He even brags at one point that the bad guy is so weak that he doesn’t need to use “the heavy one” when he punches him in the stomach.  Booooo!  In the end, Sarge Steel gets a little cuddling as well.

snuggle

With the caveats of too much racism and not enough steel fist smashing, Judomaster #96 gets two judo chops up.