Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Traveler #03 - The Stalkers

“On the wasted highways of post-holocaust America, he ran a savage gauntlet for survival…and revenge”

Who can resist that sort of front cover invitation? Unfortunately, “The Stalkers” has horrendous artwork to accompany it. I’m not sure who came up with the idea of Traveler fighting X-Men’s Beast…but we simply can’t unsee it. Nowhere in the book does this scene actually take place. It’s goofy, awful and looks like a piss poor Conan cover.

“The Stalkers” is book number three of the “Traveler” series. It was released in 1984 courtesy of Dell and is written by John Shirley (under house name D.B. Drumm). This one picks right up at the conclusion of “Kingdom Come” with Traveler motoring across Nevada in an effort to locate Major Vallone and the notorious hitman Black Rider. Within the book’s opening chapters, Traveler battles roving mutants called Bloats in some heated action sequences. He loses, and finds himself draped over a tree waiting for the mutants to carve him up for human casserole (“Last Ranger: Cutthroat Cannibals” seemingly ripped this scene in 1988). Teaming with a survivalist group, he manages to escape the mutie clan only to see his precious Meat Wagon stolen. The race is on.

Traveler eventually finds his van and its thief – a Cheyenne beauty named Jan. Eventually the book’s main premise comes to fruition. Jan needs to rescue her brother from a prison compound where, coincidentally, Major Vallone is at. Collectively, with Jan’s people and a former commando teammate, the group infiltrates and liberates the prison.

“The Stalkers” shines with a break-neck pace, plenty of gunfire and a little romantic chemistry. The author utilizes the whole neurotoxin backstory but sets up a neat and tidy remedy to write this out of the rest of the series. Arch enemies Black Rider and Major Vallone live on to fight another day. And sell another book. Kudos for another fine slab of paperback warrior fiction. Books 4 and 5 are on the way courtesy of Abe Books.