Tuesday, November 15, 2022

QUICK SHOTS: Traveller #1: First, You Fight by D.B. (Ed Naha) Drumm

As you all know, dear reader, the 80's Men's Adventure world were all about the end of the world. Least it seems so in hindsight. Blame the cold war. Blame "Mad Max." Blame whatever. Post-Apocalypse paperbacks cluttered the spinner racks, so much so that I've avoided them for the most part because there were too many to choose from and besides there were plenty of private eye, mercenary and secret agent books to occupy my time. But eventually I got more and more curious. I dipped my toe in with the "Mutants Amok" series and liked the water just fine. 

So, a Traveler book was my next choice. The Traveler books stars, uh, The Traveler a guy in the wastelands with a booby-trapped mini-van full of weapons, a murky Special Ops past and not-so-sunny deposition. These were Dell's take on the genre, and they got Sci-Fi writer Ed Naha to pen the first volume. Horror and sci-fi writers tackling these post-apocalyptic novels just seem natural, mutants and gore abound. Naha is an interesting dude having written movies like "Troll" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," but also novelizations for "Ghostbusters II" and the first couple "Robocops." As far as The Traveler books go, he traded off with John Shirley to pen the series. 

"First, You Fight" is a solid set-up to the series. You get enough backstory and set-up to carry Traveler through his adventures. I'm sometimes worried with #1's in series like this that have to establish a lot of "world building," but Naha breezes through it. Naha also has an easy-to-read style and keeps the actions popping up throughout the narrative. The story is basically "Yojimbo" or if you will, "Fistful of Dollars, or as I say, "Red Harvest." 

Traveler ramps (literally) is his action-van into a small town that is doing pretty well considering the rest of the U.S.A. is a real nightmare zone of road-mutants. There's two Big Bosses and Traveler doesn't like either of them, so he plays them against each other for his own benefit and along the way grows a little as a person. He re-finds his purpose in life and might even like playing the hero. There's gory kills and heaps of crossbow and knifing action, plus gunfire and explosions. Noice.

I'm going to read more of them, that's for sure. I'm looking forward to the Shirley penned episodes, since his stuff is usually pretty good, "The Specialist" is a nicely underrated "Executioner"-clone, but I did really enjoy Naha's clean writing style. The books themselves are also nicely slim, without the bloat of some of the 80's Men's Adventure paperbacks that became the norm.

Coulda used more mutants, though...

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