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Tag Archive: Fred Van Lente


Dead Mans Hand cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Who would have thought we’d be discussing a book in the second decade of the 21st century featuring new stories of the Old West?  Titan Books has released such a work with Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West, bringing together short stories from 23 authors that mash-up the Old West with science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and horror.

The Dead Man’s Hand is of course the legendary card hand last held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot down by Jack McCall in Deadwood, South Dakota back in 1876.  The superstitions carried forward by those cards–believed to be black aces and eights–fuels the magic and “weird” behind the stories in this compilation.

Fans of Louis L’Amour who may have open minds for the extremes of what might qualify as an Old West story should find at least a few good tales in Dead Man’s Hand.  Like Mike Resnick’s story “The Hell-bound Stagecoach,” set in Arizona Territory circa 1885, it chronicles riders in a stagecoach who don’t quite remember how they ended up on the road bound for somewhere, as they encounter a proper lady who happens to be a good cook along the way.  Resnick’s story is steeped in classic lore of the Old West era.

Jeff Bridges as Wild Bill Hickok

Editor John Joseph Adams attempts to summarize the genre in his introduction as having its roots in the works of Robert E. Howard, Gene Autry’s serial The Phantom Empire, and the 1970s series The Wild, Wild, West, but Adams could look back farther to cowboy lore–stories created and shared by those stranded in desert storms, creations of the lost, hungry and thirsty, like those seeing mirages.  Like the story that would become Ghost Riders in the Sky, written by Stan Jones in 1948.  Jones recalled the story was first told to him back around 1926, and certainly that story was among many Old West tomes of the oral tradition circulating back to even before the Civil War.  Regardless of the earliest sources for such stories, they still entertain audiences in a world of cell phones, space travel, and the Internet.

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GIJOE_IDW Publishing cover B

Well-timed to get G.I. Joe fans psyched for the release next month of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the big screen sequel to 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, IDW Publishing teams up with Hasbro tomorrow to begin a new G.I. Joe monthly comic book series.  And we’ve got a high-res 9-page preview right here for borg.com readers.

Although this isn’t billed as a tie-in comic book series, Issue #1 begins with all the right players: G.I. Joe leader Joe Colton (who we’ll see played by Bruce Willis in the forthcoming movie), team leader Captain Duke Hauser (played in the movie series by Channing Tatum), the no-nonsense Roadblock (played in the movie by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), and a classic favorite surprise villain.   Regardless of whether or not there is overlap with the movie, writer Fred Van Lente and artist Steve Kurth give fans just what you’d hope for, a modern, something-for-everyone entry point to the world of Joe, whether or not your initial encounter with G.I. Joe was via the 12-inch Action Men in the 1960s, the Adventure Team in the 1970s, the small-sized action figures in the 1980s, or the various animated series and comic books series over the past 50 years.

GIJoe Issue 1 IDW Publishing alternate cover

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