ABLE TEAM–Secret Justice by Dick Stivers(Ken Rose)
Able Team uncovers an operation run by a rich billionaire with help from elements of the Justice Department. Criminals that have been getting off on technicalities are being taken to a secret prison run in the Arizona desert. Torture, forced labor and executions are common in this extra-judicial concentration camp. Able Team is assigned to put a stop to this violation of the U.S. Constitution. So they manage to infiltrate the prison and cause a general uprising among the inmates.
PHOENIX FORCE–Terror in Warsaw by Gar Wilson(William Fieldhouse)
As the Berlin Wall was collapsing diehard Communists were planing to strike back. Under a KGB agent the group was known as Macka the Russian word for mask. This cabal would bid their time to undermine the fledgling democracies and bring back Communism. So years later the group is smuggling drugs into Poland and framing American businessmen. The drugs are tainted and killing people. Their ultimate goal to turn the people against the West. They didn’t count on Phoenix Force. The President concerned by the growing drug problem sends this elite squad to take on these Communists the only way they know how. With guns on full auto.
So the final book in the Heroes line from Gold Eagle was actually two books glued together. So we get an Able Team and Phoenix Book. Now both books were enjoyable. The first was a bit over the top with some kooky rich guy and his fascist plans to run a private concentration camp system in the U.S. That would be hard to hide and of course the book does show that. If you suspend some disbelief you get a fun action story.
The second was very much a plausible thing at the time. The Eastern European countries were just throwing off Communism and their was much concern that the resulting instability could destabilize this whole region. So evil unreformed Communists causing trouble was quite believable at the time.
The series didn’t last more than three books. It seems to originally envision three stories for Vietnam: Ground Zero, Able Team and Phoenix Force. Well the Vietnam story was dropped after the first book and by the third it was only two stories of Able Team and Phoenix Force. So I suppose that what sunk this series was several things. One was that the books are thicker than bricks. At four hundred pages plus that could have been a big discouragement. The other is the generic title and equally generic covers. Combined with the length and that most likely discouraged anyone from picking it up.
Now Vietnam: Ground Zero was completely dropped and never heard from again. Able Team and Phoenix Force were rolled into one series called Stony Man. That lasted until 2015 so much have been doing something right. So if you are a fan of any of the three series you should give this series a try. All the stories were top notch and enjoyable.
PHOENIX FORCE–Hell Quest by Gar Wilson(William Fieldhouse)
A U.S. spy satellite has gone down in Ethiopia. So the Phoenix Force is assigned the task of retrieving it. So they must now navigate a country in a civil war with many different factions. In addition teams from Israel and Libya are also there looking to retrieve the satellite and its valuable intelligence. Its a race to see who gets to it first.
ABLE TEAM–Death Lash by Dick Stivers(David North)
The Draculi were the most feared division of the secret police in Romania. Now that the Communist government has been overthrown the group must flee the country. They decide to set up shop in the U.S. and become a criminal enterprise. Selling stolen information to contract killing the group has ambitious plans. First they must steal a super computer from the government. Now Able Team must track down this rogue group and make sure they don’t establish themselves in America.
PHOENIX FORCE–Dirty Mission by Gar Wilson(Mike Linaker)
A new drug ring in Europe is targeting American soldiers. Washington is alarmed at the rise of the drug deaths and so sends in Phoenix Force to take care of it. They arrive and find that a Colombian cartel has infiltrated the police in Britain. So now Phoenix Force must take down this growing threat the best way they know how, with extreme prejudice.
So the second book in the series includes two Phoenix Force and one Able Team. These stories are a time capsule of the early nineties. The first involves the endless civil war in Ethiopia that was going on for decades and finally winding down after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The starving children dominated the news and inspired endless concerts and fund raisers. Well intentions but mostly useless as the aid ended up warehoused to rot due to the government withholding aid to their rebellious regions or selling it to prop up their military.
The second deals with the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and a rogue group of former secret police from Romania. That was fresh at the time and is a good idea for some villains for Able Team to battle.
The Final is one about the Colombian drug cartels which was also a big thing at the time. All three stories were excellent and enjoyable reads. Filled with wall to wall action and battles with Uzis and AK-47’s. Makes me nostalgic for the nineties.
ABLE TEAM–Razorback by Dick Stivers(David North)
Hermann “Gadgets” Schwarz is part of the three man Able Team. A clandestine group that is part of the organization known as Stony Man. Gadgets was wounded on the last mission and has time off to recover. While visiting his old martial arts instructor he runs into an old comrade from Vietnam. He invites him over to his farm in Arkansas for some razorback boar hunting. He soon finds out his old buddy is in league with a corrupt sheriff. The sheriff is buying stolen military assault rifles from a white supremacist biker gang and selling it to Colombian drug lords. Soon he finds himself fighting for his life while waiting for his teammates to rescue him.
PHOENIX FORCE–Survival Run by Gar Wilson(Mike Linaker)
The U.S. Secretary of State is kidnapped while visiting Saudi Arabia. The group Hammer of Allah is a radical Shiite group lead by the Iranian Abu Niad. The group plans to execute the secretary and broadcast it live on July 4. So Phoenix Force a clandestine group is assigned to rescue him. The search takes the team from Saudi Arabia, to Lebanon and finally an exciting rescue at the terrorists camp in Libya.
VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO–Zebra Cube by David Baxter(Nicolas Cain)
A high level prisoner exchange is taking place on the Cambodian border. Captain Tate and his squad are to oversee the exchange. Only problem is a renegade Arvin police chief Quac is against this exchange and attempts to stop it. The exchange is really a cover for the NVA to go after a high ranking prisoner General Tran. Tran has been imprisoned in the notorious Zebra Cube so named because of its black and white stripe paint job. A shipping container that is constantly moved. Now Tate and his men must stop the NVA from freeing this notorious prisoner.
So back in the early nineties Gold Eagle decided to merge three of their titles into this anthology series. I got this because it has a lost story from Vietnam: Ground Zero an excellent series. First they decided to give the series a whole new face-lift. A new house name was assigned to the author and new characters were created. It was assigned to the writer of the excellent Saigon Commandos series. He did an excellent job of this story. There was also a subplot about a member of the team returning home to Indiana to attend his parents funeral and getting involved with a Vietnamese stripper. It actually tied in to the main plot. This was also the last Vietnam: Ground Zero ever written. Why they decided to abandon the story I have no idea. Possibly by the nineties the Vietnam war craze was dying down and it didn’t hold much appeal anymore. Still an enjoyable take on the series.
The other two stories are spin offs from the popular Mack Bolan The Executioner series. It involved a clandestine organization called Stony Man that fought the various threats to America. Able Team handled domestic threats while Phoenix Force the international ones. I always wanted to try these series out and now I got my chance. I will say that they were very well written. I read the other stories in the next two anthologies and can say the quality was consistent as we will explore in future posts. I have no doubt that more books are in my future.