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The Red Menace #7: Ruses Are Red

Red Menace, The

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James Mullaney
256 pages
6 x 9 Trade paperback
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by James Mullaney

Cover by Mark Maddox


A trendy new drug nicknamed “Splat” has come out of nowhere and is suddenly sweeping the nation. The designer narcotic boasts it will get kids higher than they’ve ever been before. But coming back down is murder.

With a body count rocketing up from coast to coast, MIC Director Simon Kirk decides to send in the cure for what ails America’s youth. Enter Podge Becket and Dr. Thaddeus Wainwright, the most lethal therapeutic MIC can prescribe. Their mission: find out who’s behind this synthetic drug and give them a dose of their own medicine. The permanent kind.

Except, as usual, nothing is exactly as it seems.

Splat is just the opening gambit in a much larger game. Unknown to Podge and Dr. Wainwright, all the pieces are in place for a fatal final match involving the underground drug scene, the Soviets, and a couple of old enemies of the Red Menace eager to prove themselves.What goes up must come down, but the bad guys soon learn the masked man with the target on his back won’t crash so easily. Before this trip is over the psychedelic seventies drug scene will find out the hard way what it’s like to O.D … on Red!


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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    Next in this fun series

    Posted by Michael Brown on Oct 18th 2023

    Here we have the latest in The Red Menace series by James Mullaney, probably best known as a ghost-writer for The Destroyer #111-131, along with the later “new Destroyer” novels. I had gotten into The Destroyer in the late ’80s, reading many of the earlier ones and the then-current ones by Will Murray, before losing interest. I have read the first six, all with nice covers by Mark Maddox, and have been looking forward to #7, Ruses Are Red, with another cover by Maddox. Full disclosure, I was sent a copy to review. So for those who missed the first postings, who is this 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 (and blurry) 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 reluctantly comes back into action. He is aided by Dr. Thaddeus Wainwright, doctor and inventive genius, who you will soon realize has a mysterious background. He gives Becket a serum that helps him physically, but it doesn’t make him superhuman. His special devices come from Wainwright. We get some of this backstory over the stories so far. The Red Menace works with (Patrick emphasizes 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 consistent characters in the series. MIC was formed in the ’50s as an inter-agency group but has since fallen out of favor and power. With these three you have a very similar dynamic to what is seen in the Destroyer series, though one thing I miss is some re-occurring villains that that series had. In The Red Menace #7: Rushes Are Red, we have several things going on. We first get a prologue set in 1952, about a newly minted Russian general commanding an equally newly built secret Soviet base in Siberia. But we have no idea for what. In modern times we see a new and very deadly drug called “Splat” making an appearance. Who is behind this? And Pogue decided to take care of a group of men who think honor-killing a close relative is okay. And there is still the mystery of what happened to the passengers from Flight 81 from the last novel. And what about those two British traitors turned Soviet colonels we’ve been seeing? Pogue and Wainwright start looking into Splat. Surprisingly, Wainwright very much wants to put an end to it. We learn this is just the latest scheme by those two colonels. We finally learn their full story. And how they have been given the assignment, by a shadowy Soviet committee, to put an end to The Red Menace. They were behind Flight 81, and are behind Splat — or more precisely, its new deadly effect. All as a scheme to flush him out and lead him to someplace they can kill him. Will they finally succeed? Or will The Red Menace finally succeed in ending them? Oh, and what about the "Phoenix Protocol" and that Soviet General and his secret base in Siberia? What is that all about, and how does it all fit in? It’s another fun read. We get some hints that may affect future stories. I look forward to seeing how that shakes out. What I am wondering is whether we close the door on some really bad people here. The Russians now have no one spearheading the fight against The Red Menace. And there hasn’t been any development of any kind of reoccurring foe like there was in The Destroyer series. Will that change? I don’t know. We are promised #8, which will be The Sky Is Red. I understand it’s written, they just need to get the cover done. Hopefully, we’ll see it toward the end of the year. If you haven’t checked out this series, do so. I look forward to the next one.