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Tales of the Shadowmen 3: Danse Macabre Paperback – November 22, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
"Long Live Fantomas" by Alfredo Castelli patches a loose thread in the stories of the great villain. I don't know enough about Fantomas to fully appreciate this take on his origin, but the story is a doozy. The sheer evil of the "original" and (even more) the new Fantomas are very well handled. The shadowy presence of the Black Coats is a nice addition. There is also a new twist added to the story of history's first recorded serial killer.
"Next!" by Bill Cunningham lets Barbarella turn the tables on some of the most infamous lady's men in SF. I once read a humorous list of Star Trek words which included this entry: "Kirk - v. 1) to bend to the point of breaking the Prime Directive, as 'We really Kirked that planet.' 2) To bed multifarious members of the opposite sex from as many humanoid species as possible." (It was fun to some of the great Kirkers out-kirked for once.)
"Au Vent Mauvais" by Francois Dardaudet is a fun riff on third generation wannabe master villains. The story manages to be both funny and chilling as it gives us an idea of just how poisonous Madame Atomos' obsessive hatred for the United States is.
"Return to the 20th Century" by Paul Filippo combines the science fiction of two eras into a funny, fast moving adventure. It's amazing how good a story making creative use of the silly science of bygone generations can be!
"Les Levres Rouges" by Win Scott Eckert is his sequel to "The Eye of Oran" from volume 2. This story gives Doc Ardan a greater role as it drifts into the erotic horror of Hammer studios. It's "Doc-Savage-meets-the-lesbian-vampire-mistress-of-the-undead-elder-servitors-from-the-bottom-of-the-sea." Win manages to make a bewildering array of diverse elements come together to good effect.
"Beware the Beasts" by Greg Gick is a nifty short encounter between Doctor Omega and the inhabitants of what is probably the most famous planet in French SF. Short and funny!
"The Ape Gigans" by Micah Harris is my personal favorite from this volume. It uses an amazingly creative combination of characters. A willful heroine/villainess of a period romance meets the King of Skull Island and the prehistoric horrors from the canter of the earth! Not only does this make me (really) want to read THE ELDRICH ADVENTURES OF BECKY SHARP (Micah's upcoming novel), it even makes me want to read VANITY FAIR.
"A Dance of Night and Death" by Travis Hiltz combines the classic films of Louis Feuillade, "Las Vampires" and "Fantomas." We know a lot about the sorts of things that Irma Vep does, but this is the first glimpe I can remember of her inner workings as she has an intense encounter with the dread Fantomas.
"The Lady in the Black Gloves" by Rick Lai continues his exploration of characters form the Arsene Lupin stories. Like Rick's other stories, this tale of false identities in intricately plotted with subtle references galore. Even to someone unfamiliar with the characters he is using, this is a good creepy mystery as we look as the sordid and sadistic side of the European underworld. (It isn't all glamorous plots to control civilization you know.)
"The Murder of Randolph Carter" by Jean Marc Lofficier is a hilarious take on the country house murder mystery with Hercule Poirot in far past his depth. (That's what happens when you deal with Deep Ones I suppose.) What happens when a rational sleuth tries to solve a mystery in the bizarre milieu of H.P. Lovecraft? His little grey sells just aren't up to grasping it.
"A Day in the Life of Madame Atomos" by Xavier Maumejean is a brilliant comic piece about the villainess which pays homage to the silly spy romps of the early 1970's. The story works well throughout and the last paragraph is priceless!
"Bullets Over Bombay" by David A. McIntee is a Bollywood style adventure of the French occult detective Dr. Mystere. I have to confess, I found the conbination of musical numbers and a slaughtered village unsettling. I'm squeamins about high body counts among innocent bystandrs and that impaired my appreciation for the story. On the other hand, the glimpse of Dr. Mystere is very interesting.
"All's Fair..." by Brad Mengle asks what happens when all of the spies and mystery men in aris are interested in the same woman on the same night... A fun and humerous debut for Brad. Nice job!
"The Affair of the Bassin Les Hivers" by Michael Moorcock(!) I'd heard that Mr. Moorcock was a fan of the TOTS series and it's a blast to see him contribute a story. Not surprisingly, this mystery featured the sinister M. Zeneth the Albino. Zeineth was the inspiration for Moorcock's own Elric of Melnibone and we see shades of the doomed prince in this incarnation.
"The Successful Failure" by John Peel is a clever caper mystery with the unlikely but very likable pairing of Beautrelet and Bigglesworth on the case. A very enjoyable adventure.
"The Butterfly Files" by Joseph Altairac & Jean-Luc Rivera is a nicely paranoid short piect that gives us a fascinating (and disturbing) look at Madame Atomos before the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. War warps people's souls, but some are pretty twisted to start with.
"The Famous Ape" by Chris Roberson is the most unexpected crossover I have ever seen in the TOTS series. - I remember the Babar stories vaguely but fondly (my one big quibble was that they were written in cursive.) As an adult I've heard them criticized as being pro colonialism, and that may be Chris' starting point. The result can be disturbing as we see political realities played out in the traditionally unrealistic and non-political world of children's stories. Ultimately though I really liked this. Chris isn't doing this to disturb and offend the way some revisionist authors seem to. He is provoking thought and feeling but does it in a way that is compassionate and, in the end, touching.
"Two Hunters" by Robert L. Robinson features the pairing of Judex with one of the most famous hunters in literature. Judex is probably my favorite Shadowmen character and this story does well by him. The meeting of our two heroes is perfectly logical and fits well into both of their histories. It's also a ripping good adventure.
"The Child Stealers" I was ready for something really good after part of this story in last year's volume. This was (IMO) every bit as involving as the first chapter and more exciting. It was great getting to see so much of Gregory Temple and John Devil in this one, and the minor characters included are brilliant and subtle. I am also amazed at how smoothly Stableford has moved from the voice of Ned Knob to that of Gregory Temple. The two characters are extremely different but he handles each with equal insight and sympathy.
So, another good year for the Shadowmen and their fans! I'm eagerly looking forward to Vol 4!
Tales of the Shadowmen v3 is the latest volume of this eclectic anthology series from Black Coat Press. It makes use of a concept of Philip Jose Farmer that has various fictional characters set in the same 'universe', thus able to met and interact. Don't make the assumption that all the stories are linked. They often are not. Most are standalone, can usually be read in any order.
What can be daunting is that this series uses characters of popular literary culture (mainly written, but sometimes film and tv), and not 'high brow' characters. And the characters are taken from American, British, French, and other countries, so often if you're not familiar with those characters, it can be confusing. OR, it could lead you to start reading the original stories of these characters, which BCP does (such as Fantomas, Nyctalop, the Black Coats, Belphegor, Judex, and many more).
The stories in this collection are:
Matthew Baugh: The Heart of the Moon starring Telzey Amberdon, Captain Kronos, Solomon Kane, Maciste, Dr. Omega, the Vampire City.
Alfredo Castelli: Long Live Fantômas! starring Fantômas, the Black Coats.
Bill Cunningham: Next! starring Barbarella, Captain Kirk.
François Darnaudet & J.-M. Lofficier: Au Vent Mauvais... starring Madame Atomos.
Paul Di Filippo: Return to the 20th Century starring Robida's 20th Century, Cat-Women of the Moon.
Win Scott Eckert: Les Lèvres Rouges starring Doc Ardan, Elisabeth Bathory, Nestor Burma, Jens Rolf, SNIF.
Micah Harris: The Ape Gigans starring Becky Sharp, Professor Lindenbrock, King Kong and the Mahars of Pellucidar.
Greg Gick: Beware the Beasts starring Dr. Omega, the Planet of the Apes.
Travis Hiltz: A Dance of Night and Death starring Fantômas, Irma Vep.
Rick Lai: The Lady in the Black Gloves starring Josephine Balsamo, the Black Coats, Mabuse.
Jean-Marc Lofficier: The Murder of Randolph Carter starring Hercule Poirot, Malpertuis, Charles Dexter Ward.
Xavier Mauméjean: A Day in the Life of Mrs. Atomos starring Madame Atomos, Sumuru, Madame Hydra, Modesty Blaise.
David A. McIntee: Bullets Over Bombay starring Dr. Mystère.
Brad Mengel: All's Fair... starring James Bond, L'Ombre, OSS 117, P'Gell.
Michael Moorcock: The Affair of the Bassin Les Hivers starring Lapointe, Una Persson, Vautrin, Irma Vep, Zenith the Albino.
John Peel: The Successful Failure starring Isidore Beautrelet, Biggles.
Joseph Altairac & Jean-Luc Rivera: The Butterfly Files starring Madame Atomos, William Mulder.
Chris Roberson: The Famous Ape starring Zephir, Curious George.
Robert L. Robinson, Jr.: Two Hunters starring Judex, Tarzan.
Brian Stableford: The Child-Stealers (second part of The Empire Of The Necromancers) starring Cagliostro, John Devil, Gregory Temple.
At the end of the volume is information on the characters used and who created them, tho this may not help point you to wear they are from. (Wikipedia is most useful here!! along with Black Coat Press's French Wold Newton site and Cool French Comics site). The "Starring" lists the characters who appear in the story, "Co-starring" list characters mentioned in the story, "Also Starring" list placing and 'things' who appear or are mentioned in the story.