Monday, January 31, 2011

Art Gallery: The Avenger


Deka Black said...

A fun fact: First time i heard of this hero, i believed was related to Marvel's Avenger ;P

Now i know a bit more. And... i have a doubt: Why his knife and gun are called Mike and Ike?

The covers are scary. i mean, the Avenger looks like a presence more than a person.

Charles Gramlich said...

You know, I"ve never read one of these. I hang my head in shame.

Evan Lewis said...

I don't recall an explanation for naming the weapons. But readers of the late 30s and early 40s would have been familiar with the characters Mike and Ike from an old Rube Goldberg comic strip and film series.

I read these books as a kid and they never really grabbed me. I knew there was no way they were written by the "Kenneth Robeson" of the Doc Savage series. Nice covers, though.

Cap'n Bob said...

Makes me wonder if that Yellow Hoard should be Yellow Horde.

michael said...

I think Mike and Ike was to show Richard Benson's sense of humor (what little of it was very dry).

I discovered the world of pulp novels through these Avenger paperbacks. Evan, give me Paul Ernst over any of the other Kenneth Robeson. Ernst's wit appeals more to me than Dent's dated humor. I found the supporting cast in the Avenger much more interesting especially Nellie, Josh and Rosabel Newton than the annoying (to me) Monk and Ham.

While it, like most of the pulp heroes, had its flaws (the changes in the gimmick of his face and the character Cole Wilson) The Avenger remains my favorite pulp hero.

How do you feel about Ron Goulart's version of The Avenger?

Richard R. said...

I take it you haven't re-read them? I like the covers and the typography, but they don't give much away about the character or plots, other then they look to be "adventure stories". So is this guy an Indy Jones type character, and avenging angel guy, or..?

Evan Lewis said...

Nope, I haven't tried re-reading. And while I have some of the Goularts, I haven't tried those either.

The Avenger was a rich adventurer whose wife and daughter were killed. The event caused his skin to turn white and claylike, giving him the ability to mold it into any likeness he desires.

I never found the dead-face gimmick convincing. Sure, you could turn it into a mask, but that's all it would be. And the guy's personality seemed dead too. His team of assistants struck me as pale, personality-free imitations of Doc Savage's guys.

As for Dent vs. Ernst, I guess it's a matter of taste. I have read other Ernst stuff over the years, and though he's good, I much prefer the snap and spark of Dent. I could say the same, of course, for every other hero pulp writer - even Norvell Page, who had his own kind of fire. As hero pulp writers go, I'd give the number three spot to Emile Tepperman.

michael said...

Evan, my feelings were the Dent's Doc Savage books were the basic adventure stories that appealed to young boys no matter what their age. Even with Pat Savage, it always had a boys only club feel to it.

While Ernst's Avenger was less adventure and more crime novels. The characters are less dated. While the strong, tiny independent Nellie Gray was not unheard of during the time of the pulp, she would never would have been welcomed in Dent's Doc Savage as Nellie was by The Avenger. And Josh and Rosabel, a college educated black couple, were a real rarity for pulps.

The Avenger was created as a blend of The Shadow and Doc Savage. Reportedly, Dent and Walter Gibson (The Shadow) helped create the character.

The masses agree with you as The Avenger never came close to the popularity of Doc Savage.

Deka Black said...

And here we have another pulp hero i add to the pile of To be Known. i must admit: My first known pulp hero and my favorite is the Spider.

Why? I like action prose. And the Master of Men have lots of it. is something what helps me to relieve a lotof stress and have fun at the same time.

Anonymous said...

All the Avenger covers are on flickr look under Steve Holland. He had to be the only model used for the paperbacks. He's everywhere.

Britt Reid said...

Besides Doc and The Avenger, Holland was the model for both the Berkley and Pocket Books versions of The Spider, Freeway Press' Operator 5.
Six Degrees of Pulp Hero note: An unused Freeway Press Operator 5 painting with Holland was used for the novel "Legend in Blue Steel" by "Spider Page" which took the last, unpublished Spider story and changed his name to "Blue Steel".

Anonymous said...

IIRC, that "Yellow Hoard" was a gold mine or lost treasure in Central America that the hero used to finance his crime-fighting crusade. The Shadow and Doc Savage had them, too. And, yeah, I never saw how the Avenger's malleable face would be any more useful than make-up or a mask. Most pulp heroes seemed to be masters of disguise, antway,