Showing posts with label Terminator (The). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terminator (The). Show all posts

Monday, October 19, 2020

Paperback Warrior - Episode 66

On Episode 66 of The Paperback Warrior Podcast, we return to our Men’s Adventure roots with a discussion of several rare and iconic series titles in the hard-core action genre. Tom also tells a shocking and controversial book hunting story you won’t want to miss. Listen on your favorite podcast app,, or download directly HERE

Listen to "Episode 66: Men's Adventure Shootout" on Spreaker.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Terminator #04 - Crystal Kill

In an effort to cross-promote to their own 'The Executioner' consumers, publishing house Pinnacle utilized the same fonts and artistic covers for their short-lived 'The Terminator' series. The books, written by porn editor Dennis Rodriguez as John Quinn, lasted for six installments from 1983-1984. The series features an ex-CIA assassin named Gavin, whose attempts to marry and settle-down were suspended after being set-up on his last assignment (told as an origin story in the series debut “Mercenary Kill”). Now, he's a semi-fugitive living under the assumed name of Bob Evans in a Colorado mountain town. Without his modest retirement benefits and pension, Gavin takes on private investigator jobs for money.

The novel begins with a hired killer named Soto violently murdering a family in Miami. After reconvening with his boss, kingpin El Jefe, Soto is advised to take a new assignment on Catalina Island, off the California coast. A movie director turned drug dealer has received a large amount of product, yet hasn't provided payment for the goods. Soto's job is to become the enforcer and make the man pay. But how does any of this involve Gavin?

A scorned lover has employed Gavin to find her book-selling husband. He ran off with a publishing rep and was last seen on Catalina Island. Gavin, not enthused about his role in a marital dispute, bitterly accepts the assignment for the lucrative payout. Convenient, yet it seems like a lackluster way for the author just to connect beacon points between mafia enforcers and The Terminator.

Once Gavin arrives on the island, he reaches out to his old friend Doug and Doug's wife Marie. Gavin learns that Doug has apparently been killed while fishing offshore. The grieving Marie feels there's more to the story and provides details to Gavin. Combining Doug's hefty business debts with the fact that the body was never found leads Gavin to believe there was malicious intent involved.

Connecting the dots, readers learn that El Jefe and Soto are both after Pierce, an ex-Universal Studios director who's debauchery has pushed him from Hollywood elitist to grindhouse hack. Pierce's distributor has gone missing (readers suspect it is Gavin's friend Doug) with an enormous supply of cocaine, putting Pierce in arrears financially with wholesaler El Jefe. When bone-breaker Soto arrives on El Jefe's behalf, he finds that Pierce is protecting himself with his own team of enforcers.

At the 75-page mark, it's abundantly clear that the author is having a blast writing this. It's a funny, captivating chase story as Gavin and Pierce pursue Doug's whereabouts while tangling with mob killers. Specifically, the interplay between Pierce's two enforcers and El Jefe's hit-men is worth the price of admission. I had no issue that the foursome absorb most of the book's narrative. It seemed as though Gavin was an unnecessary fifth-wheel, but kudos to the writer for realizing where the story's true strengths are. This was thoroughly enjoying and highly recommended.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Terminator #02 - Silicon Valley Slaughter

Dennis Rodriguez, writing as John Quinn, produced a six-book series in the 80s called 'The Terminator'. With fonts, layouts and story design, it attempted to capitalize on Pinnacle's success with the superior 'The Executioner'. Whether it was successful or not remains to be seen, but judging from its limited run, I assume Rodriguez and 'The Terminator' met a bitter end.

The second entry in the series, “Silicon Valley Slaughter”, was released in 1983 and is set a few months after the debut events. Former CIA hitman Rod Gavin is now laying low, unemployed and living off of his savings in rural Colorado. He's still close friends with Dorn, an older mechanic colleague that assisted Gavin in the prior novel. Also Duffy, the NSA operative from the debut, once again aligns with Gavin to right a few wrongs – namely the kidnapping of Duffy's niece by the dastardly Yakuza, otherwise known as the Japanese mafia. 

The book opens with a killer named Shigata killing off the paid surveillance on Susan Billings, Duffy's niece and master computer programmer. We learn that both Shigata and another killer named Scanlon work for Clayton Edwards, a technology mogul who has a two-part plan to become wealthy, travel abroad and rape children. First, he has Billings kidnapped and her new coding on an encryption software will be sold to the highest global bidder. Second, he will then sell Billings to the Japanese for the sex slave trafficing. The problem is that Duffy, on a random visit to Billings, stumbles on the kidnapping taking place. Shigata and Scanlon rough up Duffy and leave him for dead – but not dead. Big mistake.

Gavin is now on the scene to find out what happened to Duffy and where Billings is being held. The action comes in waves beginning with Gavin throwing Edwards' thugs out of a hospital window, then running and gunning through an arcade to find where Billings is at. There's a partnership with Dorn that isn't necessarily expanded on, but provides a decent side-step to the action. There's an interesting scene where Edwards is controlling a robot aimed at stopping Gavin in a hallway...but the author drops the ball and that enjoyable conflict never comes to fruition. Oddly, for Gavin to be this impressive ex-CIA hitman, he manages to screw up repeatedly and eventually gets caught. Instead of a quick execution, the thugs just drive Gavin around in a van and eventually the tables are turned. 

While nowhere near as good as the series debut, “Silicon Valley Slaughter” is an enjoyable, par for the course 80s action novel. It's nothing special, but certainly can hold its own in the crowded vigilante market. I've read zillions of these things and at this point, I would pick up the next series entry with no qualms. 'The Terminator' is up there with the mid-era Bolans, Able Team, Phoenix Force, etc. Good guy vs baddies to prevent rape and ruin. I'll take it any day and twice on Tuesday.

Note - The cover is by Bruce Minney, a talented artist who contributed immensely to Men's Action & Adventure magazines. Paperback Warrior friend Bob Deis conducted an interview with Minney in 2011:

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Terminator #01 - Mercenary Kill

According to Bradley Mengel's resourceful “Serial Vigilantes of Paperback Fiction”, author John Quinn is a pseudonym for Dennis Rodriguez. Rodriguez worked with Ed Wood Jr. at Pendulum Press and served as editor for XXX mags. Other than the novel “Pachuco”, I can't locate any other titles that Rodriguez wrote. Further, it's odd that his debut of the six-book series 'The Terminator' doesn't feature anything that would connect him to his “day job” work as porn editor. No explicit hanky-panky in “Mercenary Kill”. Fans of the genre may require that stuff...but I've never needed it. 

Protagonist Rod Gavin was a Marine in Vietnam and now works assignments as an assassin for the CIA. His contract with Langley, under supervisor Chet Barnes, requires eight hits before he can either retire or opt into another military branch. After departing his rural home in High Card, Colorado, he receives some intel regading his eighth and last assignment – kill Jorge de Leon, a supposed rogue trooper under command of Colonel Rojas in Costa Bella. What the reader knows that Gavin doesn't is that de Leon hasn't gone rogue, instead he's an inside man sent by the US President to spy on Costa Bella's government and their treatment of the civilian uprising. So, why is the CIA interested in killing a US operative? Because Barnes and Rojas are connected on a backdoor deal that funnels drugs and money into the US. Unfortunately, de Leon is an unwanted accessory and needs to be removed. 

Gavin, none the wiser, enters this country and kills de Leon...but has doubts on what exactly is happening and if he's been crossed up by Barnes. Soon, Gavin not only has Colonel Rojas and his militants on his back trail, he must also contend with escaping the country without the aid of the US. This pushes him into propelling firefights with Costa Bella's army and the armed rebellion. Teaming with Duffy, Gavin eventually makes it to the US only to discover a contract on his head from Mob enforcers working for Barnes. 

I have to wonder how many casual readers picked these titles up thinking they were 'The Executioner'? Published by Pinnacle in 1982, the font and layout is identical with artwork created by Bolan mainstay Gil Cohen. In terms of quality, I'm shocked that Rodriguez didn't write more novels. “Mercenary Kill” offers a plethora of gunfights and espionage while cruising at a high-octane pace. At the typical 180-pages, there is a lot of events to unpack for the reader. The skeleton is this character, Rod Gavin. I really like him and love the fact that throughout this book his eyes are on the prize – finish the kill, end the career, retire to peaceful tranquility in the Colorado mountains. In a way, Gavin is a human character that we can all relate to. I really enjoyed this book and will be actively searching for more of the series out in the wild.