by James Mullaney
Cover by Mark Maddox
When the nation’s number one oil company becomes a target of terrorists, everyone naturally blames the usual rabid environmentalists. After all, when you’re as big as Dallaco Oil and its larger-than-life CEO Jim Bob Slickens, you get a pretty good sense of who’s painted that bull’s-eye on the back of your ten-gallon Stetson. Except now Dallaco’s Mideast well-fires and ocean oil spills attract an enemy a few millennia older than the Sierra Club. Who is the mysterious red fiend with the crooked horns hellbent on disrupting the world’s petroleum supply?
America runs on oil, and Director Simon Kirk of MIC vows to keep the motor running come hell or high water. Kirk calls in his two top men to make a deal with the devil: the permanent kind. Podge Becket and Dr. Thaddeus Wainwright soon discover giving the devil his due is harder than they imagined. The road to hell is paved not with good intentions, but with the bodies of innocents.
The Red Menace vows to raise hell and stop the evil figure with the fiery eyes, but this time the masked man might not have a snowball’s chance …
WHO IS THE RED MENACE? Throughout the 1950s, this was the number one question from Moscow to Beijing and in every communist palace and malaria-ridden backwater in between. The mysterious masked figure was a shadow and a whisper. For the Kremlin and its fellow travelers, he was a damnable monkey wrench tossed into the gears of the not-so-glorious worldwide revolution. Wherever Reds schemed, the Menace was there to set things right. Then, 1960 came and the whisper grew silent.
Twelve years later, Podge Becket, computer tycoon and security expert, thinks he’s hung up his mask and cape for good. Aided by his partner, inventor and physician Dr. Thaddeus Wainwright, the Red Menace is dragged back into the hero game. But it’s a whole new world out there ...
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So who is The Red Menace? Well, he is Patrick "Podge" Becket, now a computer tycoon and security expert. We are told his company, Becket International, is IBM's main rival in the computer industry. Back in the 1950s, he decided to fight back against communism and its agents, creating the costumed persona of The Red Menace. His outfit of cape, hooded mask (described as like an executioner's hood) and gauntlets are made from a special dye that looks red close up, but black further away. He also has a special gun and other devices. However, in 1960, he stopped. Most likely he realized as he was getting older, he wouldn't be able to continue and live. Now in 1972, he reluctanely comes back in action. He is aided by Dr. Thaddeus Wainwright, doctor and inventive genius, who you will soon realize has a mysterious background. He gaves Becket a syrum that helps him physically, but it doesn't make him superhuman. His special devices come from Wainwright. The Red Menace works with (Patrick emphasises this) an agency known as MIC (Manpower and Intelligence Command), now headed by Simon Kirk, the son of the man who headed it in the 50s. These three are the only consistant characters in the series. This one kicks off with the bang, in more ways as one. We get two mysteries that may not be connected. In one, a oil tanker leaves “Saudi Arabia” filled with crude and goes missing, only to be found run aground near New England, where it blows up after fishermen discover it with all hands on board dead and a sinister message in blood. At the same time, The Red Menace is dealing with the hijacking at LaGuardia of a flight from Denver. The pilot is killed on the stairs leaving the plane, and when The Red Menace gets onboard and takes out the kidnappers, including the co-pilot, he finds the plane empty. Before he can figure out were the passengers are, the plane explodes with him in it. We meet the CEO of the oil company that owns the tanker, Jim Bob Slickens, and he is a right character, yee haw! And his daughter is also a real piece of work. She’s on the cover. She claims to be a witch, and hates her father, saying he’s hurting the world. When he receives a package with the heart of the tanker captain in the mail and his VP in Arabia is murdered and his oil fields there are destroyed, there is someone serious behind it. Some has it in for Dallaco Oil. And it seems to be The Devil himself! Or is it? Who is behind it, and what is it all about? Is the daughter involved? Are those Soviet colonels somehow involved? They are back, and I hope we get a resolution real soon, as they really deserve it after this one! Look forward to #7