Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Closes In For The Kill

1970's BATTLE MASK takes place not long after the events of DEATH SQUAD, the second of Don Pendleton's legendary Executioner series. In that novel, all of Mack Bolan's squad was either captured or killed, and BATTLE MASK opens with the Executioner back at his Santa Monica hideout, awakening with a jolt when his alarm sounds, warning him that Julian DiGeorge's henchmen are on the attack.

Bolan manages to kill or elude "Deej"'s boys and finds himself in the small California town of Palm Village, where he looks up another old Vietnam buddy, plastic surgeon Jim Brantzen, and hits him up for a new face, which he uses to infiltrate DiGeorge's gang as "Franky Lucky," a gunsel whom the capo intends to move up through the ranks in a hurry. The action jumps back and forth between DiGeorge's estate and Palm Village, where much bloodshed occurs, including Bolan's spectacular attack on a carload of six DiGeorge goons.

Bolan, an expert marksman and combat vet who vowed vengeance upon the Mafia upon learning of his family's deaths, is unrelenting in his two-fisted fury, slicing DiGiorgio and his "family" like a fucking hammer. Pendleton really struck a lucrative chord with his readers through this character, which went on very quickly to spawn dozens of imitators. Though many of the imitators are quite entertaining in their own right, the Executioner is the real deal.

Though the surviving members of Bolan's DEATH SQUAD don't appear in BATTLE MASK, another character, police lieutenant Carl Lyons, does. Lyons is the conflicted cop who let Bolan escape arrest in DEATH SQUAD, and returns as part of a task force dedicated to capturing the Executioner, who is, after all, a mass murderer. Lyons is an interesting character and a highly moral one, though he isn't quite sure whose side to take. Ultimately, it isn't hard to guess, as Lyons because a regular in later novels as a member of Bolan's fighting force.

1 comment:

Rodney A said...

Funny thing about his plastic surgery (and I think he gets more work done later, probably in the transition to the post-Pendleton books) - - - they never change his face on the covers.