Monday, April 9, 2018

Hell Rider #01 - Hell Rider

Author Dan Schmidt contributed a lot to the genre in the 80s. While subbing as Don Pendleton he penned over 20 'Executioner' titles. He penned double-digit installments for both Super Bolans and 'Stony Man'. The author seemed to specialize in the team based books. His 'Eagle Force' line of Bantam books ran nine issues and as Frank Garrett he wrote another nine volumes of his 'Killsquad' series. 'Hell Rider' looked like the birth of another long-running series, but the idea was shelved (or wasn't shelved) after only two installments. Both are under the fitting name of Dan Killerman. 

“Hell Rider” was released in 1985 by Pinnacle and follows the trend of vigilantes on bikes. The series is about bounty hunter Jesse Heller, a Vietnam vet who's trailing members of a biker gang called Satan's Avengers. While in transport from 'Nam back home, he learned that his entire family was killed on a camping trip in California by these ruffians and he wants revenge. He rides a bike in the mostly abandoned stretches of the southwest and carries an Interarms Virginia Dragoon .44. I like the gun, but Schmidt talks about it way too much. Essentially, the bike and this Dragoon are the trademarks for “Hell Rider”.

Schmidt is a meat and potatoes writer, heavy on action, low on plot and absolutely knew his 80s audience. Heller rides, shoots straight and speaks the truth and we all love that. Early in the book he gets to shooting, taking a hostage named Mitchell and learning the whereabouts of a secret meeting between the Satan's Avengers and a rival gang. There's a brief side-story about two Texas detectives and a sexy spot with The Madame, a whip wielding dominatrix that runs Mob coke and sex to the bikers. Heller befriends an old guy in the desert, loads up on explosives and meets the bikers head on in what could only fit into a “Mad Max” or “Road Warrior” type of climax. In fact, other than learning about Dallas police and a few citizens, “Hell Rider” could have easily just been a doomsday book. It's universally compatible with what we know of that genre – hot sand, blistering highways, biker combatants, lone warriors and no law. Interesting that Schmidt didn't commit completely to that vibe. 

Overall, we've read it, watched it and loved it all before. This story has been done to death in all sorts of media, but Schmidt writes high-octane stories and this is no different. If you are just needing that Saturday afternoon gunfire then “Hell Rider” has you covered. I'll definitely hunt down and read the second and last novel of the series - “Blood Run”.