by Teel James Glenn
(Available in ebook edition)
Revenge is Justice!
Six tales of justice and revenge!
"I was fashioned from the skin of the first victim I would avenge. I am the collective experiences of all who have worn me in their quests for just Vengeance. I am the means to redress wrongs. My wearer may die but I live on. I am the path to justice. My wearer shares my memories, which are longer than any who live today. I am a candle of justice in a cathedral of evil. Snuff me out and a new life will relight me. My causes are many. My lives are innumerable. I am the angel of vengeance. I am the demon of justice. I am the last and only hope of the hopeless. I am the Skullmask; pity those who wear me. Wear me if you dare."
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With the recent new Jon Shadows novel from Teel James Glenn, I bemoaned that some of his earlier pulp hero works from BooksForABuck were no longer available, and hoped some would be reprinted. Also, as most of his recent works came from Pro Se Press, but the Jon Shadows novel came from Airship 27, I wondered who might publish his next work? Well, I soon learned when Bold Venture Press reprinted his Skullmask book that BooksForABuck did in 2009, though now retitled as "Chronicles of Skullmask: Revenge Is Justice". The original was "Weird Tales of the Skullmask". The Skullmask is an interesting concept. It seems a mix of The Mask (from the comics and movie), but also the version of MLJ/Archie’s Black Hood as published by DC in their Impact Comics line from several years back. When those most in need of justice, the mask appears. It provides to those who wear it the knowledge, skill, speed, and intelligence of those who previously wore it — though it’s use comes at a price. From the intro, it’s clear that the shudder pulps and the pulp heroes it influenced like The Spider is the inspiration for the Skullmask in contrast to Dr. Shadows who takes his inspiration from pulp heroes like The Avenger, Green Lama, etc. Apparently Dr. Shadows had a few encounters with some wearing the Skullmask, as well as. In this volume, we get six tales. These range from the Old West to the 1950s. Sometimes the person wearing the Skullmask is called other things, like the Skullrider. The first story is set somewhere in the American Southwest. Where exactly is not given. A small town must contend with the ranchers and ranch hands who descend upon it once a month. One particular rancher is a real piece of work, who takes it out on those who can’t defend themselves — until the Skullmask comes to a Hopi woman. Next, we then move to a Caribbean island where zombies exist before WWII. There, a young couple runs afoul of a gangster, and will vengeance make things right? Reporter Moxie Donovan, of Maxi and Moxie which Bold Venture Press has reprinted in 3 volumes, meets the next Skullmask in New York City, where he is fighting against someone who is making full-size puppets. But unlike before, we don’t know who this Skullmask is and his mission doesn’t seem to be finished. The next story has the Skullmask bring vengeance to a millionaire for what he has done to others. Then we are in North Africa during WWII, where a man meets the Queen of Sheba and the Skullmask is active again. Finally, the Skullmask deals with a post-WWII drug-smuggling operation. Each story is different, how the Skullmask comes about, and what happens when it does. There is certainly the possibility of more stories. I also hope we get more stories with Dr. Shadows at some point. As noted, Bold Venture has recently come out with three volumes of Glenn’s Maxi and Moxie Mysteries which feature reporter Moxie Donovan, married to movie star Maxi Keller in 1938 Hollywood. The titles of the volumes are different from the prior ones, but assume these are all of them. So check them out. Funny enough, I got the first “printing” of Skullmask, as afterwards they had to change to coverart. So what is currently available is different from what I have.