Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Captain Philip Strange Volume 1: Strange War

Strange War by Donald Keyhoe, Age of Aces Books: 2011 

The newest release from the crew at Age of Aces revives a WWI aviation character who had dropped into obscurity. The Weird War adventures of Captain Philip Strange were chronicled in the pages of Flying Aces magazine, published by Periodical House, by Donald Keyhoe, best known today for his UFO writings published during the 1950s. Strange’s stories appeared from 1931 through 1939.

Keyhoe does a fine job building a dramatic character in Strange: An intelligence operative with G-2, he has flashing green eyes and a penetrating gaze—Strange spent many years during his youth touring theatres as a Mental Marvel, and his extraordinary mental powers warn him of danger both in the air and when dealing with spies and traitors on the ground. Like all the best pulp-fiction spies—G-8 and Kent Allard among them—Strange is a master of disguise who penetrates enemy lines at will and returns with knowledge of plots and plans in every adventure.

The six stories included in Volume 1 provide plenty of super-science plots, the fiendish spies and villains, and the psychological warfare that will satisfy thrill-seeking fans of pulp-era aviation fiction, Doc Savage readers, and Jonny Quest viewers. The book opens with an introduction by noted aviation pulp collector and scholar Sid Bradd. What follows that introduction—a Spad-terrorizing pterodactyl, invisible aircraft and flying bombs of green fire, a Red Demon who hypnotizes Allied airmen to attack their own armies—should thrill any fan of pulp hero fiction. Strange combats all these terrors and more in ways that fully earn him the epithet assigned him by the Germans: The Brain-Devil.”

The Age of Aces crew offers another fine-looking package. Dave Kalb and Bill Mann's care in crafting a nice, readable layout is obvious, and Chris Kalb’s designs—both exterior and interior—equal the fine job he provided on AoA’s Spider volume (The Spider vs the Empire State, by Norvell Page) and recall some of the fine design work Jim Steranko applied to the great Weird Heroes volumes packaged by Byron Preiss in the 1970s.

This is a fun book. I picked this up at PulpFest 2011, and it was the first item I started reading once I reached home. As a result, I look forward to future Brain-Devil volumes from Age of Aces.

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