The greatest crime-fighter of the 40’s returns in a third thrilling collection of original, action-packed tales of adventure, intrigue, and revenge. Life was bliss for millionaire adventurer Richard Henry Benson until that fateful day crime and greed took away his wife and young daughter – and turned him into something more than human! Driven by loss, compelled by grief, he becomes a chilled impersonal force of justice, more machine than man, dedicated to the destruction of evildoers everywhere. A figure of ice and steel, more pitiless than both, Benson has been forged into an avatar of vengeance, possessed of superhuman genius supernormal power. His frozen face, like a polar dawn, only hint at the terrible force the underworld heedlessly invoked upon itself the day they created… The Avenger! This limited edition hardcover features exclusive bonus material: an Avenger timeline, plus solo tales of the Avenger’s aides by Howard Hopkins.
Greetings to ill and sun-dried,
Today, I will be reviewing the limited hardcover edition of the excellent anthology THE AVENGER: ROARING HEART OF THE CRUCIBLE, Moonstone Books’ third collection of tales featuring Paul Ernst’s classic pulp hero. I hope you all enjoy it!
Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin
I have long been a fan of Moonstone Books and their new tales of classic characters such as the Spider, Sherlock Holmes, and Captain Midnight. I’m particularly a fan of their anthologies featuring the classic pulp hero Richard Henry Benson, alias the Avenger, whose exploits were primarily chronicled by Paul Ernst under the Street & Smith house-name “Kenneth Robeson” (the same one, incidentally used for the Doc Savage novels by Lester Dent and others.) Although I’ve only read one of the original Avenger pulp novels, the hero is a very memorable figure, and his stories seem more character-driven than the average pulp. I am pleased to say that Moonstone has outdone itself with its third and most recent collection of stories featuring the Avenger. Among my favorite stories are “Ghost of Thunder Isle” by John Allen Small, “According to Plan of a One-Eyed Trickster” by Win Scott Eckert (whose villains will seem more than a little familiar to those who, like me, are fans of the late, great science fiction Grand Master Philip José Farmer), “Call of the Arctic Siren” by Matthew P. Mayo, “Lone Justice” by Bobby Nash, “The Iron Phantom” by Matthew Baugh, and all three of the bonus stories by the late Howard Hopkins included in the limited hardcover edition, short vignettes focused on three of Benson’s aides: Algernon Heathcote “Smitty” Smith and Josh Newton and his wife Rosabel, the latter duo being one of the most positive portrayals of African-Americans in the pulps of the 1930s and 1940s. Another great extra is “An Expanded Chronology of the Avenger” by Rick Lai, a thorough and excellent timeline encompassing the original pulp tales, the new novels written by Ron Goulart in the 1970s, and all three of Moonstone’s own collections. One of the neat things about this piece is that Lai lists the many crossover appearances of, or references to, characters from other pulp series and media in Goulart’s novels and the Moonstone books. The cover by Jay Piscopo, of whom I have long been a fan, is also quite excellent.
Moonstone has long been one of my favorite publishing companies, and their excellent anthologies are one of the main reasons why that is. Their Avenger anthologies have been some of my very favorite books they’ve released, and this one is the best yet. All true fans of the pulps in general and the Avenger in particular should seek out all three anthologies. Moonstone is one of the best publishers we have, and I hope they continue their great work for a long time to come. I give this book an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 tentacles!
Sean Levin – Associate Editor/Reviewer/Reporter