Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Nemesis Returns ...

Bold Venture Press has released The Nemesis Chronicles, a collection of short stories featuring Gary Lovisi's "New Pulp" vigilante. The Nemesis cuts pieces from the same cloths as The Spider and The Executioner, stitched into a new pattern for the 21st century. He's an urban hero based in New York City, birthed at the dawn of David Dinkins' mayoral administration, making his comeback during the twilight of Bill de Blasio's run. Ineptitude must inspire masked vigilantes.

The Nemesis made his world debut in 1988 in a saddle-stitched digest-sized fanzine, titled The Nemesis, with a green paper cover. A trio of stories -- "The Kingdom of Crime," "The Season of Darkness," and "Destiny With a Gun" -- launched his career. The character is crafted to capture the excitement of past heroes like The Whisperer and The Shadow, with a modern approach.

Gary Lovisi was an early practitioner of "New Pulp," long before the phrase was bestowed upon the movement. He edited and published Hardboiled, which became the Black Mask and Manhunt of the 1990s. Gary continues to publish Paperback Parade, a beloved journal on the post-pulp format. He published new and classic fiction, under the Gryphon Books imprint, and sponsored the New York Pulp and Paperback Expo. Today he devotes his efforts to authoring new fiction.

The Brooklynite captures in vivid detail the attitudes, colors and smells of New York. (Try visiting Manhattan during a garbage strike.) His patience exhausted with drug dealers, pimps, and mobsters, New Yorker Harry Turner resorts to time-honored vigilantism to solve the problems overwhelming police and a corrupt administration:

"Turner checked his weapons and other equipment for the final time in the secluded shadows of the old tenement doorway. Two Uzi sub-machine pistols, loaded and ready. Safety’s off. One large Bowie-type knife, serrated edge, stainless steel blade, sheathed to his outer right thigh, the guard loosened allowing his hand quick access to the weapon at a moment’s notice. A tough nylon cord with grapple was wrapped around his waist, while his belts held two smoke grenades on the right side, two standard fragmentation grenades on the left, and a dozen 15 and 25-load clips for the Uzis. He was ready for anything — he hoped." (from "The Kingdom of Crime" by Gary Lovisi)

The prose eschews the florid melodrama Norvell Page brought to The Spider. Readers are quickly reminded that Harry Turner, the Nemesis, is a working man's crimefighter:

“Okay, Rico, you got me! Now what you gonna do with me?” Turner shouted defiantly.“You cause me a lot of trouble, my man!” the rasping voice blared in answer over the sound system of the disco. “You’re dead, man! Real dead!”“Eat me!” Turner barked, then quickly blasted out the three TV cameras pointed down at him. “Now you can’t see either!”

Turner lacks the refinement of Richard Wentworth (The Spider), or Lamont Cranston (The Shadow), but his methods produce the same results -- lots of dead bad guys, and more safety in the streets.

The original stories were published sporadically between 1988 and 1999, an period not drastically different from the Pulp Era. The Nemesis embarked on his career during the corrupt Dinkins mayoral administration, then hung up his Uzis while Rudolph Giuliani presided over New York City. Thus, readers may (or may not) notice the lack of cell phones, computers, and "world wide web." Surveillance cameras weren't very common, and innocent bystanders usually ran for cover instead of streaming video to YouTube.

Readers may feel a pang of nostalgia (or something more somber) when a scene utilizes the World Trade Center.

Another anachronism from that period? I was barely twenty years old when The Nemesis debuted in green-cover fanzine. I can't remember where or when I purchased it -- one day it was just lurking on my bookcase -- but the publication was new and exciting. I began collecting pulp magazines in 1984, while still a teenager, so everything was "new" and came attached with an automatic "gosh-gee-whiz" quality. But The Nemesis earned my admiration with his wild and unpredictable exploits.

So, flash forward to 2015 ... The old excitement and wonder has returned! Nearly thirty years later, Gary Lovisi approached us about The Nemesis Chronicles, including a new, contemporary Harry Turner adventure. The opportunity to bring his crime-fighting career full-circle (and to give it a fresh push) was irresistible. We diligently worked to create a book worthy of this noble "New Pulp" hero, and we're looking forward to Gary's new Nemesis stories.

Authors don't always successfully revive a character. Keep the character in the same time period? Bring the character forward in time and preserve his youth? Gary now writes about a Nemesis sixteen years later both in chronology and age.

In "The Nemesis Returns," Harry Turner is a little older and grouchier, settled into a life with family and friends, when Vic Powers (the protagonist of The Last Goodbye, also by Lovisi) comes a-knockin'. A visit from Powers usually isn't prompted by anything resembling "good news." When Turner learns plans are afoot to unleash the "Satan Plague," a virulent chemical weapon he believed he destroyed years earlier, he doesn't need persuasion to bring The Nemesis out of retirement.

In many respects, the world hasn't changed all that much, so Harry Turner has vigilante work cut out for him. The rules of adventure pulp fiction haven't changed much, either ... Find a good character, embroiled in a dramatic situation, develop the personality as the plot moves along. Make it entertaining.

Welcome back, Harry Turner, a.k.a. The Nemesis!

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