04 July 2010

Americans to the Rescue!

In recognition of this day of celebration in the republic to the south, six American novels I haven't found time to read. Doubt I ever will. If I were to crack open just one it would be Lionel Derrick's The Quebec Connection (New York: Pinnacle, 1976). Why? The cover copy doesn't motivate. Sure, Mark Hardin, the Penetrator, is exciting, modern and deadly, but no more so than his rivals the Executioner, the Destroyer and the Butcher. No, the real attraction here isn't the man, but a plot that has Hardin fighting Quebec separatist hippies who are being used as pawns in a plot to populate the world with dwarfs.

Is that enough?

Elaboration may be in order.

The armed separatists fund their activities by pushing a drug called Ziff, which has been created by a cabal of bitter little people who seek to remake the world in their image. One sniff of Ziff, it seems, alters one's DNA and induces dwarfism in future offspring. According to trash enthusiast Marty McKee of the wonderfully named Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot, all leads to "an amazing climax in which three midgets dressed as Athos, Porthos and D'Artagnan are armed with rapiers and fighting the Penetrator atop the Eiffel Tower."

You can't make this stuff up... but Lionel Derrick can.

Well, not Derrick, but the men behind the pseudonym – in this case Mark Roberts.

The Quebec Connection followed Hardin's first Canadian adventure, Mankill Sport, in which the Penetrator chases a drug dealing American psychopath through our backwoods. I can't explain the sudden interest, though I expect the October Crisis had something to do with it. By my count, in the six years that followed those dark days we were visited by three other American action heroes, all of whom who did battle in Quebec, usually with some sort of militant separatist group:

The Canadian Bomber Contract
Phillip Atlee [pseud. James Atlee Phillips]
Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1971

Hardass CIA contract killer Joe "The Nullifier" Gall comes to Quebec to stop an FLQ splinter group intent on blowing up the American side of Niagara Falls. What the Partridge Family's bus has to do with all this I don't know.

The White Wolverine Contract
Phillip Atlee [pseud. James Atlee Phillips]
Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1971

Joe Gall, again. This follow-up to The Canadian Bomber Contract sees the Nullifier on Vancouver Island, where he fights Chinese villain Victor Li and his private army of hippy and Métis separatists. Gall calls them "psycho rebels".

Canadian Kill
Joseph Nazel
Los Angeles: Holloway House, 1974

Billionaire Henry Highland "Iceman" West's hopes of a relaxing holiday in northern Quebec are shattered when his plane is shot out of the sky by the fanatical Next Generation of Man. Cover artist Corey Wolfe does our hero a disservice; he's not really using that woman as a shield.

Canadian Crisis
Don Pendleton
New York: Pinnacle, 1976

The mafia is determined to turn Quebec into the crime capital of the world, but are thwarted by the Executioner, Vietnam vet Mack Bolan.

Am I alone in reading Marc Bolan whenever Mack Bolan's name appears? Electric Warrior kicks more ass than the Executioner every time. Here's the proof.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering. Hardin... the Penetrator... Yeah, I got it.


  1. Wonderful, wonderful stuff! That inept Iceman cover is a treat: it looks like a page from a Shaft! children's book.

  2. Whether done by Corey Wolfe or not, the Iceman covers share the same awkward look. My favourite is Roxanne Skene's illustration for Spinning Target, for which I present this link.

    It will not surprise you to learn that the second Iceman adventure was titled The Golden Shaft.

  3. That cover... It's Blaxploitation flea-market art.

  4. I'm old enough to remember when there were actual Quebec separatist terrorists.