WINGMAN #16 THE TOMORROW WAR BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1999.

Hawk Hunter has successfully dropped the atomic bomb on Honshu Island. This bomb was so big it literally sunk the island. Fortunately that island in this universe was cleared of civilians and only the military were killed. Naturally this ends the war but the B-2000 has disappeared. So Agent Y mounts an expedition to find the fate of the plane. On a huge amphibious transport they fly to the Pacific. Along the way they hire some air mercs and steal an aircraft carrier from some pirates. The trail takes them to Vietnam where they help out some French mercs and find clues including an aircraft that the B-2000 was carrying. The trail takes them into Thailand where they find that Hunter and crew abandoned their bomber for a train. This train takes them to Afghanistan.

In this world Afghanistan was colonized by the British and retains a very distinct British culture. A civil war is being fought between the Reds and the Blues. The Blues or the blue blood aristocrats against the red blood commoners. They have the Red’s princess locked up in a tower in the capital city of Kabul Downs. Hunter has joined the Reds and battles against the Blue’s jet biplanes. Soon they have to face a massive mercenary army and it is up to Hunter to defeat everyone and rescue the princess who is none other than his love Dominique.

Now this was a very weird book in a very weird series. The first three-fourths doesn’t even have Hunter in it. It consists of Agent Y and his band having adventures in this goofy world. They find Hunter in a British Afghanistan with jet biplanes. Oh and Victor who is also in this world has amnesia but is a good guy. He somehow finds his way into the mercenary army and helps out Hunter. At the end Hunter, Victor and Dominique go back to the Falklands where in the secret research facility they have a portal to our world. It goes to the north Atlantic and the three parachute in but Hunter doesn’t go home.

I get the feeling in this book that Maloney knew it was being cancelled by Pinnacle and was just writing something to fill his contractual obligations. He had a definite plan for Hunter but was going to save it for a new series with Ace. Something that we will look at next.

WINGMAN #15 RETURN OF SKY GHOST BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1998.

America has won it’s 58 year war with Nazis Germany thanks in large part to Hawk Hunter. Yet in this alternate universe there is also a militaristic Japanese Empire. It decides now is the time to attack. So on December 7, 1998 it launches a massive sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Using giant submarines that are combination aircraft carries and troop transports they devastate Pearl Harbor and five of the six megacarriers. A gas attack and follow up invasion captures the Panama Canal. Soon after they land in South America and with the help of some of the continent’s governments soon control everything except Brazil.

Hunter must now organize another war. He secretly sets up an airbase in the mountains of Peru. Guarded by fierce native tribes this base launches attacks on the occupying forces. Soon America has built up it’s forces and with Brazil plan to launch an invasion. This is only a distraction to the real goal. One of the atomic bombs that Hunter recovered from Germany is being worked on. Made into a superbomb that Hunter must drop on Japan using a massive B-2000 bomber. Only the Japanese have discovered this plan thanks to some traitors in the OSS. An invasion force is headed to the Falklands where a secret research base is located. Hunter has to almost singlehandedly defeat this invasion to carry out his bombing run.

The second book in this goofy alternate universe. This time he now fights the Japanese. If you didn’t think this series could get more weirder than hold on. We got giant over a mile submarine/aircraft carriers. Weird science that Maloney just pulls out of his ass but I guess that’s OK. After all he makes up the rules to this universe. There are also ghosts in this reality and the besieged forces in the Falklands kill one of their own soldiers so his ghost can go and get help. I will say that he definitely succeeded in giving this series a total makeover. Still the same lovable Hawk Hunter and he meets some counterparts from his other world. Yet it is a completely different world. You have to admire his ability to keep his writing fresh when so many other post-apocalypse series from this time didn’t last.

WINGMAN #14 THE SKY GHOST BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1997.

The last time we saw Hawk Hunter he was taking the Zon space shuttle to destroy a comet headed to Earth. Now he finds himself still alive and floating in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of America. He gets rescued by an American destroyer before a Nazi cruiser comes along. Hunter soon finds out he is in an alternate world. A world were the Nazi never lost WWII. This war has actually been going on for over 58 years. The war heated up in 1987 and now America in on the verge of winning. The Nazis though picked up a person from the ocean too. One who has revitalized them and now after a sneak attack during a peace conference are on the verge of winning. Desperate for pilots Hunter is drafted into the war effort and sent to a base in Iceland.

Hunter finds himself the only one in a fighter squadron that has to escort bombers on useless missions over the occupied British Isles. Hunter assesses the situation and of course takes charge of the whole operation as only Hunter can do. He reorganized the squadrons and soon is launching devastating attacks on Germany. His fame eventually lands him on a mission to destroy a massive dam on the Rhine to stop an imminent invasion of America. He succeeds and finds atomic bombs that the Germans developed. He gets them out of the country and uses them to end the war.

The last book left us with the feeling that it was the final in the series. Yet Maloney decided to take the series in a whole new direction. Hunter was mysteriously transported to an alternate world. A world the Nazis ended up conquering Europe. A world with giant forty engine bombers. Helicopters as big as jet airliners. Aircraft carriers over a mile long. Yet a world that never discovered atomic power. This whole story had a very surreal feel to it. I think it was a bold move to completely change the story. This was very weird but also very interesting. Yet it still retains the goofyness that made this series such a treat to begin with. Gives us a surprise ending on who was helping the Nazis. A great new direction for this series.

WINGMAN #13 DEATH ORBIT BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1997.

Hawk Hunter has taken off in the Zon space shuttle to capture the archterrorist Victor II and bring him back to justice. On Earth a lot of strange things are happening. Planes and people are disappearing and turning up other places. There are sighting of ghosts. The Kennedy Space Center becomes the target of the alliance of the Asian Mercenary Cult and the Fourth Reich. They have a base in Cuba that has thousands of nuclear weapons. Their plan to use the space center to launch them into orbit and threaten the entire Earth. Hunter and his crew eventually come on Victor holding up in a giant Swastika in space. Only a visit by the ghost of his girlfriend Dominique warns of an impending catastrophe. A giant 350 mile comet is headed to Earth. All life is about to be destroyed. So the Nazis and America call a temporary truce to deal with this threat. Their nuclear weapons are launched into space where Hunter and his friend Elvis Q will go on a suicide mission to destroy the comet. They also decide to take Victor with them.

This was a strange book. It basically had three story lines going on. One was Hunter in the Zon tracking down Victor II. (This is how Victor Robotov was referred to in this book.) Another was the battle for the Kennedy Space Center. We have various Nazis fighters and Cult Mercenary battleships attack. We even get the appearance of the Vikings for one chapter. The third takes place at Hunter’s farm in Cape Cod. Dominique gets visitors during a large hurricane including Hunter’s other girlfriend Chloe. Lots of mystical mumbo-jumbo goes on that eventually leads to the death of Dominique. This of course alerts Hunter to the comet and the alliance with Victor. At the end when he goes to see Hunter off and gloat, his friend decides to take him with them on the suicide mission. Now I dropped out of reading this series with the last book. So this is the first time for me in reading this. If I did read it new I would have assumed that this was the final book. It had a clear feel of ending with Hunter sacrificing himself to save the Earth. Of course I know this isn’t the last one. I will say that Maloney does take this series in a whole new different direction. More on that in the next review.

WINGMAN #12 TARGET: POINT ZERO BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1996.

Hawk Hunter has arrived at Baikonur in Kazakhstan just in time to see Viktor take off in the Zon space shuttle. So he destroys the airfield and takes a fuel truck to travel to the Swiss Alps. He calculates that is Point Zero or the best place to track the shuttle. In Austria he comes on a town at war with the neighboring town. He gets involved in helping out this town which is lead by a Canadian mercenary. They only have a squadron of rebuild WWI biplanes but manages to defeat the neighboring town’s forces. Then the Zon shuttle lands and it is being piloted by Elvis. Here is where Hunter wakes up and discovers this was a dream.

He continues on to the village of St.Moritz in Switzerland. This village is a haven for the superrich and they spend their time having parties and kinky sex. Hunter meets the beautiful Chloe and falls in love with her. After a small adventure with some of Viktor’s men they find a tracking station and Hunter now knows the flight path of the Zon. So begins a journey to destroy all the airfields in it’s orbital path where the shuttle can land. They stop an attempt to take over Malta. Then destroy a field in southern Iraq. The fields in Pakistan and Rangoon are next. This all leads to a final confrontation on a small atoll in the pacific called Lolita Island. There the United Americans and the mercenary forces of Viktor clash in a big confrontation for control of the Zon shuttle and it’s advanced Star Wars weaponry.

So the old Zebra imprint was discontinued in the early nineties and Wingman found a new home with Pinnacle. This felt like three different books. The first was this dream of a war between two towns. It had some surreal stuff like dinosaurs and UFOs in it. Of course we find out at the end with Elvis piloting the shuttle that it was just a dream. The second quarter of the book dealt with Hunter and his adventures in St. Moritz. This felt more like a Fifty Shades of Grey type book. His new girlfriend likes to have all types of sex including having Hunter watch her do other guys. In fact she has sex with everyone but Hunter.

Finally we get to the second half and it read more like a traditional Wingman book. Hunter, Chloe and a sidekick from Malta named Baldi steal a Tu-95 Bear and travel around the world destroying airfields. Along the way we are introduced to the wide range of goofiness that is the world of the Wingman. A big battle ends in Hunter getting the Zon shuttle and at the end taking off to get Viktor who is still up there on the Mir spacestation. His new girl Chloe goes to a monastery in Tibet. This was a real strange book.

WINGMAN #11 THE GHOST WAR BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1993.

The United Americans have successfully liberated the country and defeated the army of the Asian Mercenary Cult. Yet their fleet of battleships is still out there causing trouble. Hawk Hunter gathers an expeditionary force made up of a fleet of C-5 transports and heads off to Asia. Hearing distress calls from Vietnam they arrive and find a huge war going on for the southern part of the country. The Capitalist Communist Inc. or CAPCOM for short is trying to conquer the southern part. Hawk and his C-5 are shot down and forced to land at Khe Sanh. This outpost is defended by a small garrison of French Foreign Legionnaires and other assorted mercenaries. Thanks to the vastly superior firepower of the Americans they successfully fight off the Viet Minx(what the CAPCOM army is known as). Then building from parts of other planes manage to escape to Da Nang.

At Da Nang they are reunited with the other members of the expeditionary force and the various foreign mercenary contingents fighting for the democratic south. Once again the firepower and ingenuity of the United Americans defeat the Viet Minx armies trying to take the city. Yet they have to face the facts that the Viet Minx are overwhelming and will soon overrun the south. So Hunter devises an ingenious plan to destroy the central bank in Hanoi and thus deprive CAPCOM of financing their mercenary army. Apparently combining Communism with Capitalism they don’t know the idea of diversifying their assets. Anyway the south is free and Hunter manages to track down where the leadership of the Mercenary Cult is located. He arrives in a C-5 at Baikonur in Kazakhstan and sees the terrorist Victor Robotov take off in a space shuttle.

The goofy series continues with them now refighting the Vietnam war. This time against this combo Capitalist Communist organization. Apparently they sell individuals an army and they are responsible for conquering territory and get reimbursed for losses. You can even get a free toaster oven if you purchase 5,000 soldiers. What a goofy way to run a war. You do find out why they are mounting this expedition. Seems Hunter gives a speech after someone asks if they should be the world’s policeman. He says that as long as someone in the world isn’t free then they have to get involved. It is what Americans do to a teary eyed crowd. Yeah that didn’t age well.

So you get plenty of goofy over the top action with C-5 transports armed with Gatling guns, cannons and air to air missiles fighting off MIG-25’s, sinking battleships and blowing apart whole armies. Basically your typical kooky action in this post-WWIII world. We find out at the end that the evil terrorist Victor is still alive and going into outer space which is setup for the next adventure.

WINGMAN WAR OF THE SUN BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1992.

The United Americans have defeated the Fourth Reich and liberated the eastern half of the country. The other half is still under the occupation of the Asian Mercenary Cult. An uneasy truce exists for the cult has two nuclear subs that could destroy two cities. Yet intelligence indicates that their insane leader Hashi Pushi is about to obliterate a city on the west coast. Hashi Pushi is a drug crazed nut who likes to have his own men commit seppuku over minor infractions. The United Americans lead by Hawk Hunter come up with a daring plan. Outfit an aircraft carrier and conduct a raid on Pushi’s palace in Tokyo. With his death it is hoped the cult will fall apart.

They carry out the raid and Hashi Pushi does commit suicide but the threat from the cult is far from over. His spirit is transferred to a teenage girl who continues his evil plans of world domination. On the island of Okinawa a massive factory is churning out guns, munitions and exact copies of WWII era Zeros. On a nearby island they are producing dozens of battleships. So Hunter manages to team up with a movie production group that was stranded on the island by WWIII. They are lead by the daughter of Amelia Earhart. Naturally Hunter and the United Americans easily destroy this base.

Yet the spirit of Hashi lives on in another young cult member. He manages to gather the cult’s forces at Pearl Harbor to lure the Americans to their doom. Only Hunter is one step ahead and uses remote controlled ships to lure the thousand of kamikaze Zeros to destroy empty ships. Then they destroy the islands food and water supply and trap the army to starve. Everything looks great until at the end we learn that the cult was being manipulated by the dead spirit of Victor Robotov the insane terrorist thought dead.

So this book sees the defeat of the Second Axis. I have to say that the Second Axis was a very incompetent bunch. Everyone of them was more good at killing themselves then the enemy. It is a wonder they managed to take over America in the first place. As you can read from the description of the plot this was just filled to the brim with goofiness. Which just makes it such a fun experience. Not a bit of real world grounding but plenty of fast paced action. Ends with the revelation of the evil Russian terrorist mastermind Victor now back and somehow resurrected from the dead. The action will now start going more international with Hunter and his buddies leaving America to battle evil all over the world.

WINGMAN RETURN FROM THE INFERNO BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1991.

The Second Axis has conquered America. On the west coast everything west of the Rockies is under the control of the Combined Greater East Asia Divine Warriors’ Association or what will be known as the Asian Mercenary Cult. Everything to the east is the Fourth Reich a reborn Nazis empire. America now is under the brutal heel of these occupiers. Most of the United American officers are in hiding or concentration camps. Hawk Hunter the famed Wingman is presumed dead. In Fuhrerstadt the Nazis capital which was formerly St. Louis the Amerikafuhrer is about to marry the insane Elizabeth Sandlake so she can become queen of America.

Yet Hunter isn’t dead and has been quietly rebuilding the forces of resistance. A clever ruse distracts the Nazis from the real objective of the attack. With the battleship New Jersey towing barges full of tanks they make their way up the Mississippi to Fuhrerstadt during the wedding. A decisive battle frees the country but sees the brave Mike Fitzgerald sacrifice himself to prevent the destruction of St. Louis by a nuclear missile.

Back in the nineties it was a common practice to revive the old Axis after the fall of the Soviets. Either a resurgent Germany or Japan was the new bad guy. Maloney actually brings it back quite literally. Now how did the Nazis get to power. Not really explained but they apparently have a very modern army and air force. The first half of the book is somewhat slow. We never even see Hunter the main hero. It mostly consists of stuff like Mike Fitzgerald pretending to be a priest to hide from the Nazis and showing us how evil the Nazis are. The second half though we get the typical goofy over the top action that we expect in a Wingman book. You have to wonder how these Nazis managed to take over America in the first place. They seem completely incompetent and when the going gets tough they just shoot themselves in the head. They sure don’t make Nazis like they used to.

WINGMAN SKYFIRE BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1990.

The book starts out with an assault on a castle in Alberta. The evil Elizabeth Sandlake has captive Hawk Hunter’s girlfriend Dominique. Sandlake who was an archeologist that was taken captive by the Canal Nazis has been driven insane and now wants to create a female dominated aristocracy with her as queen. Wow is this way ahead of it’s time. The joint United American/Free Canadian force succeeds and frees Dominique and captures many criminals. Unfortunately Sandlake her lover Juanita Juarez and Hunter’s beloved F-16 get away. You know it’s love when Hunter chooses his girl over his airplane. After this Hunter decides to retire with Dominique and live on a hay farm on the coast of Massachusetts.

Things though don’t stay peaceful for the country. A mysterious force of raiders from the sea are attacking towns and cities on the east coast of Canada and America. These raiders strike around Hunter’s home and kidnap his girl. Now he has to get out his AV-8BE Harrier and join the fight. He finds out that the mysterious raiders are Vikings in massive submarines. These unhygenic Vikings are using these massive coal powered subs complete with sea serpent heads mounted on the front to rape, loot and pillage. These Vikings are the work of a fishing magnet who took over northern Scandinavia and revived the Viking traditions after the war. Verden and his son Thorgils though are puppets to some other force. Along the way Hunter teams up with Verden’s rebellious son Wolf who wears a mask and captains the USS New Jersey battleship. The big raid against Florida is easily defeated but the United Americans are surprised by an attack from a new enemy. An enemy that possesses carriers with modern aircraft. They decimate the United American forcers as a large Asian enemy invades the west coast. Ends with Hunter going off on a suicide mission to attack the invaders alone.

So with the Soviets defeated the author has to come up with some new enemies and boy are these some off the wall ones. Naturally this book was a joy to read. The kooky Vikings that drive around in coal powered submarines. The weird feminist Sandlake who joins forces with them. The equally mysterious figure of Wolf with his Zorro like mask using his battleship against his family. Goes along with the big final battle that is a complete success for Hunter. Then it hits us with the surprise attack and defeat of the Americans at the end. The Vikings were just a distraction for this new enemy who also has four nuclear armed submarines to blackmail America into surrendering. A fun over the top book that doesn’t have a lick of reality to it but plenty of high adventure fantasy.

WINGMAN FREEDOM EXPRESS BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1990.

America is now united and settling down to normal. A group calling themselves The Modern Pioneers are attempting to drive a train across the Badlands to Los Angeles. Only it gets ambushed along the way and the empty train is sent crashing into downtown L.A. Yet the United American government has decided that a rail route should be opened between the east and west. Lead by Hawk Hunter they equip a massive two mile long train that will cut a path from the east to west coast. Dubbed the Freedom Express this heavily armed train will see Hunter trade in his F-16 for a Harrier jumpjet to land and take off from the train.

They soon find out that there is a formidable enemy awaiting them. Duke Devellian and his Knights of the Burning Cross a white supremacist group is determined to stop the train. Gathering a huge army of former canal Nazis, KKK, Mexican bandits and various mercenary scum Duke plans to ambush and destroy the train at the Grand Canyon. Hunter and the United Americans have to run a gauntlet to make the journey to L.A. The train has become a symbol of a reborn America and defeat could mean the end of the fledgling new democratic government.

This installment of the series gives us a KKK type group as the main enemy. Duke Devellian is probably the most loathsome of opponents the series ever had. He is of course a white supremacist who is also a sexual pervert that enslaves young girls. He also is a psychopath who loves killing. In fact every day he kills his own men for some minor infraction whenever he is in a bad mood. Which is very frequent. You wonder why someone would work for such an unstable individual. I mean the Burning Cross can’t have that good of pay and benefits. Duke always has to take a polaroid of his killing. Naturally Hawk Hunter and the good guys come through against overwhelming odds. They take on their old canal Nazis foes, Mexican bandits, South African flamethrower unit, skinheads in Phantoms and the KKK Air Force. Duke who fancies himself a film director plans to film the whole destruction for the world to see. Only Hunter doesn’t stick to the choreographed script. Another fun if highly improbable adventure in the Wingman universe.