THE LAST RANGER #10 IS THIS THE END? BY CRAIG SARGENT

Standard

Copyright 1989.

Martin Stone is heading to Armadillo Texas. That is where the Dwarf has taken his sister April. So when he gets to West Texas he finds a place just filled with nuclear blast craters. The state was hit hard in the war. He rescues a young biker chick who was being attacked by some gang. For this generous act of kindness the woman Raspberry Thorn forces him with a knife to his throat to take her back to her camp. The camp is home to a female biker gang called The Ballbusters. A real man hating group. They even have a mock giant penis set up in the middle of the camp so they can beat and stab it. Raspberry takes Stone to her room and the two of course have mad passionate love. Then Raspberry allows Stone to leave in spite of the rule that all men should be killed after they have been used. Seems Stone is the only man who ever satisfied her sexually. Something Stone is very good at. So he gets out just as the camp descends into civil war over who will lead it.

So he makes it the Armadillo and finds a boom town in oil. It’s controlled by a cabal known as the Freaks which the Dwarf is the leader. Stone stumbles on the to secret entrance to the underground base and immediately gets captured. So he is in the NAUASC (North American Underground Assured Survival Complex). A secret base that controls all the star war weaponry. Here he finds out the Dwarf plans to marry his sister. So Stone is given over to Doctor Wolfgang Kerhausen who was the personal physician to Adolf Hitler. The kooky Nazi likes to do many transplants of questionable scientific value like transplanting female parts onto a male body.(Maybe the guy was ahead of his time.) Anyway he wants to transplant parts from his dog Excalibur onto Stone and vise versa.

Before he can start this nutty experiment Raspberry Thorn and her gang invade the complex and save Stone. Raspberry is apparently the leader now. Stone manages to rescue his sister and the Dwarf is killed by a vengeful servant. Only not before he launches all the nuclear missiles in space and literally blows up the entire world into a cloud of dust.

So the question is this the end? Well if it means the end of the series then that is a definite yes. He blew up the whole world so not much doubt of this being an end. Now the author was dying of AIDS and had just months left. I’m sure he knew the end was coming. Jan Stacy died at only 41. I suppose that existential question was answered for him as it will to all of us at some date. What I loved was that he decided to take his creation with him and metaphorically speaking all of us. I can respect that. At least the guy gave some closure to the series. Stone found his sister April and was reunited with her. His arch enemy from the beginning the Dwarf also got his just desserts. I actually admire the man. He was dying but still kept on going and chunking out books. He kept on going till the end.

So the series as a whole was enjoyable. Sure there were a few cow pies in the lot. The quality was on the decline as it progressed and one can’t help but wonder how it would have turned out if he didn’t suffer from his disease. Now Stone was probably one of the most inept of the heroes in the post-apocalyptic genre. He was always being rescued by his dog or some person or mob of people. In fact the author seemed to have a template for writing these stories. Stone infiltrates the enemy. Gets captured and imprisoned in some sadistic torture chamber. Sometimes he was able to escape but many other times someone else came to his rescue. Then he kicked butt and moved on in the never ending quest for his sister April. Lazy writing? Perhaps but it did work for this series. Stone always came out on top and got the pretty girl. What more do you need.

Advertisements

THE LAST RANGER #9 THE DAMNED DISCIPLES BY CRAIG SARGENT

Standard

Copyright 1988.

Martin Stone and his dog Excalibur make it back to the underground bunker from their last adventure. Stone gets some food, rest and a chance to clean up while his dog gets into the food pantry and make a pig of himself. While here he gets a transmission on the radio that his sister is being held in La Junta. So being the mechanical genius he is he puts together a new bike out of spare parts and him and his dog go on a road trip. After a brief adventure with some baseball mutants he runs into some pathetic men outside La Junta. They were rejects called Broken Ones of the mind control drug that the local cult in charge uses. So Stone starts the process of teaching them to be men again before heading to the city.

In the city he does find it controlled by Guru Yasgar and his Church of the Perfect Aura. He finds his brainwashed sister but gets captured. Then they force feed him the Golden Elixir and subject him to staying in a sewer with all sorts of creatures. This turns him into the brainwashed Pod #47. As Pod #47 he lives his live in mindless devotion to stirring the vats where the Golden Elixir is made. Between that he eats, sleeps and shits when he is told to. Oh and they also feed him meatloaf made up from the ground remains of dead people. I mean they grind up everything, bone, hair and guts. Guru Yasgar doesn’t believe in wasting anything.

Well sometime later Stone manages to come to his senses and stop taking the Golden Elixir. Then he starts his fight with the cultists. He has to fight his dog who has also been brainwashed by the elixir. Brainwashing someone’s dog is so not cool. Then when his dog also comes to his senses he bits off the trunk of the elephant that Guru Yasgar was riding. Thus the elephant falls on Guru Yasgar squashing him. When it looks as if the Guru’s followers will take their revenge, the Broken Men come to the rescue. Stone tries to save his sister April but is too late as the Dwarf has come to take her away.

So by this time the author Jan Stacy was dying of AIDS. Now I suppose he was in hospitals and subjected to regular doses of drugs. So Stone’s ordeal with constantly being given drugs. Told when to eat, sleep and shit. Being fed mystery meat. That is the hospital experience in a nutshell. Now sometimes great real life tragedy can inspire some excellent fiction.

Sadly this is not the case. This book was bad. I mean painfully bad not fun bad. This was a big piece of poop floating around in the toilet. This had to be the weirdest and incoherent story I ever read. Now I know that dying of AIDS is an excuse for poor writing but this is still just bad. I mean his pit bull may be tough and bred to fight tigers but come on. Casually biting off the trunk of an elephant. That is just too fantastic to suspend belief. This was definitely the worst book in the series. Possibly the worst book ever written.

THE LAST RANGER #8 THE CUTTHROAT CANNIBALS BY CRAIG SARGENT

Standard

Copyright 1988.

Martin Stone and his dog Excalibur are driving along on their Harley when an avalanche occurs. It takes them to a river valley where the bike is destroyed and Stone has a broken leg. So with the help of his dog they manage to fight off some wolves but get captured by a tribe of Indians living in the valley. They don’t kill Stone as they usually kill outsiders because his dog looks like their god. So instead the two are taken to a village made of tires and Stone gets some medical treatment from a half Native American-Jewish doctor.

So the story meanders along while in the village until the chief decides to kill Stone. Stone decides to call for a trail by combat and has to face the chief’s son. So he manages to kick the son’s ass but the chief still decides to have Stone killed. Luckily the guy he defeated but didn’t kill is now his slave and helps him and Excalibur escape. They then come on a pack of wild dogs lead by three super intelligent mutant dogs. The Indian gets killed but the three dogs are defeated. Then they get captured by a group of cannibals called the Hungry. Lead by twin albino brothers named Top and Bottom because one likes to eat the top and the other the bottom. They like to spend their time arguing about philosophy. Stone finds that he has company with a young beautiful girl and her brother and father. They were captured by the Hungry and will suffer the same fate as Stone. Except the young girl will be raped by the twin brothers and she is a virgin and doesn’t want that to be her first experience. So naturally Stone has to be her first. Well Stone manages to free himself and make it to the girl’s captured jeep which has a fifty caliber on it. Stone blows away the cannibals and frees the captives.

Well this book was a mess. Not a pretty mess either. The story just meandered along without a care in the world. The main advertised villains the cannibal Hungry don’t show up until the final chapters. Oh and the author just realized at the end he has to have a sex scene so just throw one in at the last moment. A young girl who manages to undue Stone’s pants with her feet and have mad passionate sex. Sex in front of her dying brother and knocked out father. Granted they were out of it and didn’t notice but still that just seems a little bit of an uncomfortable situation to have your “Please, do it, get it in” sex. She manages this by using her feet to undue Stone’s pants. At the end Stone makes a remark that he is glad to be leaving the valley and I was too because his time there dragged on forever.

Now I know the author was dying of AIDS at this time so I guess that is an excuse for not putting your best story forward. I know that after this book I quit reading the series. Well fortunately for you the wonders of the internet delivered the final two books of this series to me. So I got to finish reading this series and you will be privileged to find out how it ends. I will tell you that this is not the worst book of the series.

THE LAST RANGER #7 THE VILE VILLAGE BY CRAIG SARGENT

Standard

Copyright 1988.

Martin Stone and his dog Excalibur are riding in search of April. They get caught in a radioactive thunderstorm that almost kills them. Fortunately they are found by the Undertaker and his many kids. The Undertaker manages to nurse Stone and the dog back to health. Even more helpful is the young eighteen year old daughter Luann. After a while applying all this ointment to Stone’s naked body just drives her crazy and she jumps in bed. So Stone must once again have endless sex with a beautiful young woman instead of proper rest from his injuries.

So after a while he finds out the Undertaker has a thriving business in coffins since the town of Cotopaxi was taken over by two opposing factions. On one side is the biker gang The Head Stompers. The other are the Strather Brothers a bunch of mountain men psychos who worship Al Capone. They are bleeding the locals dry with taxes and Stone comes up with a plan. Posing as The Preacher Boy he kills the second in command of the Head Stompers and ingratiates himself into the Strater Brothers. He comes with a plan to turn the two factions against each other. It doesn’t work and he’s captured and subjected to torture which he manages to escape. It looks grim but the two factions do start fighting and he is saved by an uprising of the local farmers. The Undertaker has plenty of business at the end.

So this is basically Yojimbo or A Fistful of Dollars adapted to the world of Martin Stone. A small town being exploited by two factions. A mysterious stranger comes in and manipulates the two sides into wiping each other out. This was actually a well done book that kept my interest. Some more goofy stuff are the various cat dishes the locals eat. His pit bull defeats a lion. And basically the whole area has stereotypical Mexican peasants or somewhat inbred mountain-men. Not really the people who live out in the country as someone from the East Coast probably believes inhabit the vast center. Still one of the better ones as he was suffering from the AIDS virus. As we will see the series will start to go downhill fast.

THE LAST RANGER #6 THE WARLORD’S REVENGE BY CRAIG SARGENT

Standard

Copyright 1988.

Martin Stone and his allies have just defeated the mad general Patton III. Only they had to do it by detonating a nuclear missile that he launched. So deadly fallout has started to fall. They decide to head out of the area. There is one Cheyenne that is a little nuts and thinks its macho to breath in the fallout and burn his hand on the radioactive remains of a tank. So the mixed force of Cheyenne and deserters have to fight off some local warlords. Stone takes some time off to go back to his bunker and consult the supercomputer on treatment for radioactive poisoning.

At the bunker he finds out that his sister April and Dr. Kennedy were there. She left a message telling Stone to meet them at their old vacation cabin. So Stone gathers some medication and goes back to find the crazy Cheyenne fighting his girlfriend for leadership of the tribe. Stone intervenes and saves her life. Then he gives out the medication and has the group go to distribute to people downwind of the blast as he and Excalibur go to find his sister.

They arrive at the cabin and find Dr. Kennedy dying. He tells them a Mafia boss named Scalzanni took his sister. So after burying the deceased Kennedy they head off to Keenesburg. There the Mafia has established themselves and have converted a shopping mall into a weapons and slave mart. Stone disguises himself has a nerdy guy and goes to the local bar called “Get Drunk.” He finds out about Scalzanni but is drugged. Fortunately for him the prostitute who was supposed to dispose of him has a heart of gold. Peaches was rescued by Stone from the Dwarf’s resort so she returned the favor.

So Stone finds his sister on display and goes nuts and tries to break her out. Only its a trap and he is now prisoner of the sadistic Scalzanni. Seems Stone killed his brother at the Dwarf’s resort and now Scalzanni’s honor requires revenge. So Stone is scheduled for some serious torture. Luckily the prostitute Peaches breaks him out and Stone goes Rambo on the place destroying it. He fights Scalzanni who welds a pair of meat hooks and almost loses but his faithful dog rescues him. Unfortunately they manage to take his sister April and he must once again go questing after her.

So the sixth book was a mixed bag. The author at this time was dying of AIDS so the writing for this series was in decline. While an OK book it took to page 100 out of a 185 page book to finally get to the main story. When he does get to Scalzanni’s town then the book finally picks up. The whole nerdy act he puts on when he visits the sleaze bar is hilarious. Naturally he follows the basic template of getting captured and subjected to torture. Has some help in being rescued and single-handedly wrecking the place. Although his dog is the one to defeat the main bad guy. One a side note Stone had sex with the same woman he had it from the last book. Two books in a row. This is a long term relationship for the guy.

THE LAST RANGER #5 THE WAR WEAPONS BY CRAIG SARGENT

Standard

Copyright 1987.

Martin Stone has just defeated the fascist general Patton III. Now he is looking through the ruins of his old base when he is confronted by some men left behind to guard his stuff. Luckily its his fellow recruits he went through basic training with. He manages to convince them that he destroyed Patton’s base because the general was a genocidal maniac. So they find outside some members of the Guardians of Hell playing around with some captured tanks and take the three tanks. Then its off to stop Patton at his other location in the north. Along the way they fight some bandits and Stone has to deal with a hit squad.

They reach the base but are ambushed and captured. Seems there was a traitor that told Patton they were coming. Stone is covered in a sugary syrup and left out to be eaten by the ants. Only he is saved by a young beautiful Cheyenne woman. Her people are being hunted by Patton’s soldiers. She takes the time to help Stone with his injuries by smearing some healing green gunk that consists of rattlesnake guts all over his body. But this causes a massive erection on Stone and we know what happens next. Yes he has hot passionate sex and the green gunk gets smeared over both their bodies.

Back to some serious stuff. The Cheyenne are going to attack Patton’s base on ATVs. They infiltrate the base and rescue just in time Stone’s men and his dog Excalibur who were in front of a firing squad. His dog manages to defeat Patton’s pit bull in a dog fight and they destroy his nuclear missile. Only Patton has escaped in a helicopter and launched his other missile at the base. Fortunately they have a missile expert with them that manages to hack the guidance and turn the missile back to where it was launched. Still they have to find shelter from the blast and some don’t make it.

So the fifth book picks up where the fourth left off. Stone manages to find some allies. They have some goofy adventures together. He gets captured again and about to die a gruesome death. Fortunately a beautiful young twenty year old comes along and rescues him. But as normal he can’t properly recuperate from his injuries because the young woman insists on having sex. This guy has it so hard. All ends well with the defeat of the mad genocidal nutcake Patton. Although we never do see him die. I always wondered if the ambiguous ending maybe the writer had plans to bring him back. This never occurred so I suppose he died in the nuclear explosion.

THE LAST RANGER #4 THE RABID BRIGADIER BY CRAIG SARGENT

Standard

Copyright 1987.

Martin Stone wakes up after passing out after escaping and blowing up the Dwarf’s resort. He finds out the whores that he rescued rolled him and took all his weapons. So he has to fight some scavenger types that come around to loot the bodies. Fortunately Stone was trained by his father and he has no problem taking them out and escaping. He comes to his hidden motorcycle guarded by his pitbull Excalibur. So he takes off to find his friend Dr. Kennedy and his sister April who also escaped from the Dwarf’s resort.

Along the way he gets caught up in a flash flood but fortunately his Harley can turn into a flotation device. Still he is in danger of going over the falls on the Green River when an army helicopter comes along and pulls him out. He is taken to Grand Junction and Ft. Bradley. There he finds an organization called the New American Army under General Patton III. He is organizing to take back America from the mobsters, biker gangs and cannibals that now rule it. At first he feels this organization is offering hope for a shattered country and gladly lets himself be drafted. He proves to be an exceptional recruit over the hicks that they usually get. He also has a romance with the nurse that first treated him the blonde Elizabeth Williamson who is the girl on the cover with the provocatively open blouse.

He gets to meet the man himself General Patton III who he impresses so much that he is given a colonel commission and command of a detail to take out some local cannibals. His mission is a success but is horrified when the men massacre surrendering women and children. He soon finds out that Patton III is actually a man with a goal of imposing a fascist rule that would kill off the undesirables and racially impure. He has a plan to use one of his nuclear missiles to take out a nearby criminal gathering at Glenwood Springs. Stone decides to turn against the madman and warns the scum gathering. He forms a temporary truce with them and leads them on a successful attack of Ft. Bradley. He destroys the missile but Patton III escapes and leaves a message on his murdered girlfriend’s body that he has other missiles and followers.

So the fourth book introduces probably the most colorful villain that Stone has to face. This one at first seems like a force for good. His NAA is restoring law and order. Only the guy is a nut case. If the kooky blood rituals and fist salutes weren’t enough of a tip off then the fact that the guy thinks he’s Patton’s descendant should have done it. The guy is just over the top nuts. He plans to use his ten megaton ICBM and damn the liberal ecology bullshit. Also is oblivious to the fact that his base is in the blast radius.

He also has the obligatory chapter devoted to his sex scene with the local hot chick. A whole chapter to his size and shooting of volcanic lava etc. etc. This is the first time he loses one of his girlfriends but a guy like Stone has no trouble finding others so its an acceptable loss. Also while it isn’t ever mentioned I think Patton has made himself a full General so the Brigadier in the title is not really accurate. I guess the author found it better sounding that Rapid General.