Re: RARA-AVIS: The Executioner & the "Men's Action" Sub-Genre

From: Scott Owen (
Date: 14 Feb 2002


>While the Executioner books are, without question,
>both tough and colloquial, and consequently fair game
>on this list, Mack Bolan's literary forebears are not
>really the Spades, Marlowes, Gars, etc., and other
>denizens of the hardboiled pulp magazines, but a
>different type of pulp detective altogether.
>Specifically, the avenging "Super-Detective" best
>exemplified by The Shadow, in whose wake followed
>characters like The Spider, The Phantom Detective, The
>Moon Man, and The Patent Leather Kid.
>Like The Executioner, these characters operated
>outside the law, inhabiting a dark urban world in
>which violence was rampant. They made it their
>business to personal visit justice of a decidedly
>lethal and illegal type on the criminals they
>encountered. Pendleton's main contribution was to add
>a lot of well-researched military technology.

Excellent point. The men's action series were/are very much in the tradition of the hero pulps. My pet theory is that a major factor in the collapse of the pulps were comic books siphoning off the juvenile audience and paperbacks snagging the adults.

>Second, while the Executioner is the father of the
>"Men's Action" genre, a transitional figure who could
>be called the "grandfather" is Nick Carter

I've always thought that the various publishers of Nick Carter's Killmaster incarnation erred in not, for the most part, numbering the series. But I think they were the first to successfully market hero-pulp production methods to the paperback format. But I fear I am drifting off topic...


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