THE AVENGER – The Sun King
By Matthew Baugh
Pulps were by no means a strictly American experience. All one has to do read is the stories of the French Arsen Lupin or England’s Bulldog Drummond to realize action-adventure novels proliferated across the glove from their inception. Whereas one of the most notable such heroes, dare we say notorious, was Germany’s own Sun Koh; who was their version of a Doc Savage styled science-genius adventurer. Later much was made of his being the poster child for the Nazis’ blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aryan superman.
That Sun Koh continues to fascinate readers is evident by how many of the best New Pulp writers have brought him into their tales. Joshua Reynolds, Derrick Ferguson, Art Sippo, Frank Schildiner, Barry Reese, and Win Scott Eckert have all taken their turns in interpreting this unique fictional character. Most opted to paint him clearly as a villain except for Sippo, who offered us a more complex figure echoing back his early heroic roots.
In “The Avenger – The Sun King,” Matthew Baugh clearly gives us another bad-guy Sun Koh, though in doing so he purposely explores the deep-rooted, seductive allure of bigotry. That it is impossible for Sun Koh to conceive of true equality among the races is the tragic flaw of his supposed brilliant intellect. It is this weakness that Richard Benson, the Avenger, understands and ultimately exploits in his campaign to stop the Atlantean from causing a catastrophic global disaster.
Baugh knows pulps and his story is beautiful fast-paced and filled with action. He portrays the Avenger’s team wonderfully. Nellie, Smitty, Mac, Josh, and Rosabel are all here. Then he sets his adventure right in the middle of the magazine run between issue # 12 and #13 which formally introduced Cole Wilson to the cast. This is a first-rate Avenger yarn and we’re thrilled to have finally gotten around to enjoying it. So, what are you waiting for?