Monday, October 23, 2023

QUICK SHOTS: The Executioner #276: Levithan by Don (Gerald Montgomery) Pendelton


It's hard to believe that this is the first adventure of Mack Bolan I've reviewed here on the blog. The true Men's Adventure paperback boom started with our man, Mack. Sure, there's Bond roots, there's Mike Hammer roots, Matt Helm roots. But the idea of the numbered book with the continuing bloody adventures of a singular man pretty much started with War Against the Mafia. Book #1 is a stone-cold classis a slim masterclass in action writing. Then obviously after 30-something books Don Pendleton was a little done with Bolan and Gold Eagle stepped in with a plethora of ghostwriters. Some fantastic, some not-so-much. Thinking about it, I rarely dig my toe into the Bolan universe, I guess I think of them a bit to "normal" in the action-adventure field and I usually crave the wilder/weirder tales. 

That's called a lead-in. 

Probably like any series that gets into the high 200's things are bound to get a little odd. That's exactly what began to happen with the Bolan books (might have to read more of this late-period ones) and Bolan found himself fighting more sci-fi-type villains and more outlandish plots. So, in Levithan Mack Bolan fights Cthulhu. Oh, and Hunter S. Thompson is there too. 

The plot is kinda out there, more akin to a Destroyer novel (Remo kicked Cthulhu in #139 Dream thing) but it's Bolan who gets roped into heading off to a converted oil platform to take care of this monster that keeps killing people. The people are bad dudes, the mafia has team-up with a drug kingpin plus the evil CIA to turn the platform into a sovereign nation to allow all the drugs/prostitution they can get. Only a nearby evil cult has taken offense, and their tentacle-packed ancient god is angry and killing everyone on the platform. A lot of the book reads like a B-Horror movie with a secluded cast and a rampaging monster. 

To stop it Bolan is sent in with Dr. West from Miskatonic University (watch Re-Animator if you don't get that reference) and FBI Mallory Harmon who is an X-Files-kind of FBI agent. Harmon is the real star of the book. It's like an episode of an old TV show where they are trying to do a spin-off and the main characters take a backseat. Between her, Dr. West, the Hunter S. Thompson stand-in and the villains, Bolan doesn't have a lot to do. Harmon has surer footing in the weird trappings of the story and Bolan is just sort of "there." Not saying that he doesn't blow plenty of bad guys away with his Desert Eagle, but it was clear that Montgomery was more interested in Harmon and her underwear. There's lots of talk and scenes/descriptions of her underwear. Including her introductory bit where she blows away a Hills Have Eyes-type clan in her bra and panties. Then stands around talking to her FBI colleagues without dressing.

The guys from Able Team show up to help, Bolan's brother has a small B-story and there's stuff with the evil cult too. There's a lot of stuff jammed into this 200-ish page books. Which is ultimately it's down fall. I've heard rumor that it was supposed to be a longer Super Bolan book then got cut down which would make sense. Montgomery can spin a yarn though; I can't say I was ever bored with it. The action is rolls along quickly and the pages flew by so whatever quibbles I had; they were easy to get over. 

I imagine this bend on the Executioner series was a weird one for diligent readers to take at the time and it doesn't really seem like they ever got this odd again. Let me know if they do though! I had a fun time with this one and its Halloween season so it's nice to read about monsters and people with machine guns fighting them. Spooky.

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