THE MARAUDERS THE GHOST WARRIORS BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1990.

The Marauders are heading back home and decide to take the long scenic route by going through The Ukraine. It is here that they run into the Howlers. Genetically made troops for Chairman Maximov in his goal of conquering the world. The Howlers are created by the son of a Nazi scientist who decides to carry on the family tradition. Luckily Maximov being a good Communist Russian has no qualms about using this nutjobs works. In fact Maximov admires Hitler and believes that the only reason Hitler lost was because he was too lenient with people. Something Maximov has no plans of doing.

Well the leader Crazy Jack Keenan is captured and exposed to the neurotoxin that turns people into Howlers. But thanks to the intervention of their dead teammate’s spirit Tom Bee, Kennan manages to adapt to the toxin and become superhuman. Thus he and his fellow Marauders free the Ukraine and send Maximov packing.

Wow this has to be one of the worst books I have ever read. There is just a whole boatload of things that don’t make sense. Like trying to go back to England by going east into the Ukraine. Or that the Howlers are created by exposure to neurotoxin that over-heightens the senses. It drives men crazy and they kill anybody else. When nobody is around they kill themselves. Yet in the beginning the Marauders are fighting ones that drive jeeps, shoot assault rifles and are working together. Oh and they only last two hours so the kooky scientist is constantly processing people. For what purpose? God was this book bad. The series hit its low point with this turkey.

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THE MARAUDERS CONVOY STRIKE BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1990.

The Marauders are in New Germany to organize resistance. They meet up with an old geezer who with some friends are selling guns. They found a mountain full of weapons. Unfortunately this old geezer informed the FSE that he was meeting the famous Marauders. Naturally they overreact and attack the village slaughtering ever man, woman and child. Buddha Chan stays behind to cover his friends escape and is assumed lost.

But Buddha is instead captured by the FSE. They perform brain washing on him to convince him that he is a loyal agent of the FSE and the Marauders are his sworn enemies. The Marauders meanwhile are looking for the mountain of weapons and link up with some orphans who are living in a castle run by Uzi toting monks. They eventually link up with their comrade Buddha who they manage to break the mind control. They then blow up the mountain of weapons and kill Giles Robespierre who was Maximov’s flunky. Another flunky Igor Vesensky get to feel Maximov’s wrath by having his thumb shot off.

The fourth book in the series continues its slide to utter stupidity. A plot that meanders around to a pointless ending. Once again extremely bad dialogue and writing make this a barely readable book.

THE MARAUDERS LIAR’S DICE BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1990.

The forces of the the Federated States of Europe are gathering in France for an assault on Britain. King Shatterhand’s forces are still training and not yet ready. So he sends the Marauders to France to link up with the Free France movement. Unfortunately the Marauders are ambushed just off Normandy and one of their number Kinski is missing and presumed dead. But Kinski is not dead and washes up on shore where he is found by a French policeman. The policeman convinces him to join the FSE and he takes him to Jean Gallac the number two man in the FSE goon squads that terrorize the countryside. The Goon Squads go around and kill all the old people and rape the women. Gallac is a despicable child rapist who really gets off on his work. So Kinski who is nicknamed the Silver Tongue because he has a gift for lying manages to join the FSE and works from destroying it from within.

Meanwhile the other three Marauders link up with Marie Marette a big beefy Frenchwoman who is leader of the resistance. They gather the resistance forces outside Paris. This is where they link up with Kinski who they find out is alive. So Kinski uses his newfound position in the FSE to take his three comrades as prisoner to see Giles Robespierre the FSE head of France. They find out that all the troublemakers are kept prisoner in Paris and conveniently the armories are located right next to the prisoners. So they bust them out and with a stolen helicopter free France from the FSE.

Well another entry in the series has our heroes being the only ones in all of Europe who have any competence whatsoever. Indeed the FSE opponents are dumb as tree stumps. Its filled with rape and murder and the Marauders killing people by the truck load. Once again filled with bad writing, unbelievable plot, cartoon like characters and just general goofyness.

THE MARAUDERS BLOOD KIN BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1989.

Britain is now free of the Federated States of Europe and is the center of resistance. King Shatterhand now turns his attention to Ireland. A shipment of arms is coming from the black market in Iceland. It is headed for Londonderry in Northern Ireland. The FSE goon in charge of Ireland is using two families the Woodses and Clancys who are Catholic and Protestant to intercept this shipment.

So the four Marauders go to Northern Ireland to a small village where the two families are vying for control and pose as mercenaries. They kill a bunch of the Woodses men and get in as hired guns from them. They also cut a deal with the Clancys where they will pretend to work for the Woodses but really work for them. They end up killed a whole bunch of both sides men before the FSE betrays both sides and takes to guns for themselves. Luckily this unites Catholic and Protestant and they manage to kick the FSE out of Ireland.

The second book in the series is even worse than the first. It is a loose ripoff of Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars. Interesting this was a similar plot for the first Traveler book that Ed Naha wrote. Even down to the gun shipment coming through that everyone wanted. Only unlike the Traveler this is really bad. Why are the guns coming through? Why can they get away with killing all these men of the guys that the Marauders are supposed to be working for? A very convoluted plot that made little sense.

So I’ll end with a little except from the book.

They’re going to get away! Mamudi exclaimed.
Jack slid out of the jeep and slowly, casually began picking up
whatever salvageable pistols he could find in the street. “Naah,” he said with a shrug.
A minute later Kinski strode out from the long dormant ruins of the Ferngall. Jack was
busy piling the pistols in the jeep. “Any survivors?” he asked.
“Are you kidding?” Kinski asked. “Half of them shot each other.”
Mamudi still sat in the jeep, removing slivers of singed hair from his scalp.
Kinski offered him a comb. “I like it,” he said. “Very butch.”

Yes if your opponents are so incompetent they kill each other there isn’t much tension about our heroes failing that is building up.

THE MARAUDERS BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1989.

Chairman Yevgeny Maximov of the Federated States of Europe has a plan for world domination. He already controls the nations of Europe but now has set his eyes on the United States. He is going to reactivate the North Sea oil rigs which will give him the fuel to activate his air force. Willis “Shatterhand” MacGregor a former policeman in a small Scottish village who already had his hand shattered by Maximov’s goons decides to do something about it. He goes to America and warns his cousin Jeffrey MacGregor the President. MacGregor in his underground fortress of Heartland decides to sent an elite squad to stop Maximov. Code named the Marauders they are five highly trained special forces men.

Captain “Crazy Jack” Keenan. A Green Beret with three tours of duty in Nicaragua. West Point graduate with M.S. degrees in chemistry and physics. Written a book on new age physics. Wife and children killed in the nuclear exchange. He is described as not needing a weapon because “He is a weapon.”

Lt. Thomas Bee a Hopi Indian who is a veteran of Vietnam. Highly trained and uses mini-crossbow and shurikens. Also a teacher who teaches children at his village how to live in peace with the Earth. With the stars. Sister Moon. Brother Sun. But the white man fucked it all up so went back into the army.

Gunnery Sgt. Winston “Buddha” Chan. The best sniper in the Marine Corp. Is called Buddha because well he looks like Buddha if he joined the Marine Corp. His family is from Mongolia where his father was a local Ford dealer. A Ford dealer in Communist Mongolia? I don’t think there’s one now. The author seems to be pulling stuff out of thin air.

Chief Petty Officer Farouz “Freddie” Mamoudi. A Navy SEAL of Afghani descent. He comes from the neighboring Soviet republic of Kazahkstan. The author should look at a map sometime. As a kid he lost his eye to a Soviet sniper. Now he likes to wear decorative glass eyes with stuff like skull & crossbones, a lion, the Navy seal. He also is a confirmed polygamist who likes to marry women wherever he goes. Also has a large collection of knives which he likes to use in combat. Even when using a gun would be more practical.

Captain Peter Kinski USAF. An expert in electronics and a pilot. Favorite weapon an AK-47 with a folding stock. He also wears a Pompadour hairstyle. He is always combing it back.

So this merry little group makes its way to Scotland with Shatterhand. They get ambushed at the airport but easily take out their ambushers. So they eventually link up with the Scottish resistance. Along the way people are shot, blown up, stabbed and heads blown off with our heroes casually shaking off the bits of brain matter. They eventually defeat Maximov’s East European army and kill the puppet king Edward a former pimp and drug dealer. The people proclaim Shatterhand their king and so starts the resistance.

Oh yeah and Tom Bee after the battle is won drives a motorboat filled with explosives into an oil rig after the fight is won. A pointless death but I guess thinned out the group to a manageable four.

Well the publishers decided to make a spinoff of the popular Guardians series. On paper it had a lot of promise. A counterpart group of the Guardians would be waging a war against the FSE. So they gave it to some writer and basic premises and told him to churn out some books. What we get is this God awful mess.

First it has nothing to do with the Guardians. The writer just made up his own story. In this Maximov is a KGB general who takes over and with the remnants of the Red Army go into Europe and establish his own lackeys in control. It is also just horrible writing. Cardboard characters, stilted dialogue and improbable plot all make this series such a rich experience. I think Ed Naha the guy responsible for the Traveler series wrote this series. The Milk run scenario for how WWIII started is straight out of Traveler. Also other books show him recycling stuff he wrote for that series. I can’t find anything in any official bibliography which considering how bad these books are is no surprise he would suppress anything to do with them.

The ending for this book was truly bizarre. It has Maximov siting alone in his castle after the Marauders defeat him in Britain. After giving orders to his lackeys that the benevolent dictatorship is coming to an end he worries about getting fed liver for dinner. What is his mommy cooking for him. Your a dictator. Order your chef to cook a hamburger or Spaghetti-Os. The guy is always shooting people with his .357 at the slightest whim. Shoot the guy who tries to feed you liver.

And at the end a little kitten wanders in and snuggles up to him. He reaches down and snaps it’s neck. Well if you didn’t know he was evil already I guess you needed it to be reinforced with breaking a kitten’s neck.

RIFFTRAX LIVE: THE FIVE DOCTORS

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The night started off with a short from Britain. Apparently the British also put out these goofy shorts about dumb people doing dumb things and trying to discourage such dumb things. In this case its not respecting power lines. So you have dumb kids flying kites or wheeling around their sailboats and getting electrocuted. Dumb kids throwing frisbees into power transformers then breaking in an getting electrocuted. Oh and hooligans like to throw chains into power lines causing blackouts. Luckily an animated wise old owl and his dumb robin sidekick shame everyone into behaving.

So the main feature was the classic TV special The Five Doctors or four because Tom Baker didn’t like the money or screentime in the episode. Some sinister being is plucking all the reincarnations of the doctor from the timestream and bringing them to the Deathzone. The Deathzone was an old gladiator type arena where the Time Lords brought different aliens to fight for their amusement. Thus the first, second and third and some past companions are snatched out of time and dumped there. The fourth is conveniently stuck in the system.

The four Doctors together.

The Time Lords also throw in the Master the Doctor’s arch nemesis to rescue him. And of course Cybermen, Daleks and Yeti are also tossed in. Basically the various Doctors make their way to the dark tower and confront the evil behind all this.

Cybermen meet their match.

Now I am a big fan of the old classic Doctor Who series. I actually like the Five Doctors. Sure its a bit cheezy and there are some moments that were perfect for riffing. When the Cyberman comes out and looks surprised as the Doctor and Master were talking and nobody notices him. Their riffs on how he screwed up and missed his cue got the most laughs for the night.

Cyberman looking surprised that nobody notices him.


Then there is the bearded image of Rasillon with his Genghis Khan hat.

Rassillon aka Genghis Khan.


Or the main baddie who looked like Maleficent.

Maleficent contemplating immortality.


I guess it just never really resonated with me. It was enjoyable and had some good laughs but never came close to Samurai Cop. I think they really should stick more to the really bad cheezy movies. Those are the ones that are absolutely hilarious. So until next year we bit adieu to Rifftrax live.

RED PHOENIX BURNING BY LARRY BOND AND CHRIS CARLSON

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Copyright 2016.

It is July 2015 in this alternate world where a second Korean war was fought in 1989 as chronicled in Red Phoenix. That war saw an end where the Chinese brokered a ceasefire and Kim Jong-il was executed by the military. Under the Chinese his son Kim Jong-um was designated the successor. His regency would be under his aunt and uncle until he reached the age of 28. So basically this world is not much different then our own. North Korea is still a basket case of a nation under the pudgy man-child with a bad haircut. There are many factions in North Korea that are always vying for control. An appointment to a head of the Department of the Economy of a powerful individual threatens the balance of power. So a military coup is initiated by a faction in the military. An explosion kills most of Kim Jong-un’s backers at a state dinner but he manages to survive. A bloodbath is in the making as he takes revenge but while addressing the nation from his underground bunker the conspirators succeed in releasing a VX nerve gas on him. So his nation and all the world watches as he dies in a gruesome manner on TV. Now all the factions are vying for power and a bloody civil war breaks out. Add to this the South Koreans entering to unite the country and the Chinese also getting involved under the pretext to find the north’s WMDs. The world stands on the brink of a wider war as the dying regime threatens to strike out with its Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Larry Bond actually wrote a sequel to his enjoyable Korean War novel. Basically the world and situation in Korea is unchanged in spite of this war. It was an excuse to put the characters from the original novel into this book. The three main ones are Tony Christopher the F-16 pilot who is now a brigadier general. Kevin Little the young lieutenant who is now a colonel and Lt.Rhee who is also a colonel in charge of the Ghost Brigade a special forces unit. There are some children of the characters. Chee Ho-jin the son of the North Korean general who was made a scapegoat for the wars failure. His family were all declared traitors and now he works for the Russians as a spy to get back at the regime. Kary Fowler who is the daughter of the national security adviser from the first book. She works as a Christian missionary in the north. The idea of this fictional war surprisingly fits well into the narrative of the story. While it doesn’t really do anything for the story it also doesn’t distract and you can read this book without reading the first one.

So the authors portray a North Korea were the monolithic rule of one man is a facade. That there are actually many factions constantly vying for influence. A country that is rife with corruption as the ordinary people must resort to bribes as a daily routine of life just to survive. Where the elite live in extravagance financed by criminal activity such as drugs to finance their lifestyles. This was a very insightful book in showing the functioning of the North Korean society. It is also a timely one as once again North Korea is in the news. Threatening Guam which was actually attacked with nerve gas missiles in the book. There was a happy ending to this book which we can only hope is the same in the real world.