Night of the Heroes by Adrian Cole. Book review

Night of the Heroes by Adrian Cole, Wildside Press, p/b, $13.99/eBook, $2.99, Website

Reviewed by Dave Brzeski

I stated in my review of Adrian Cole’s ‘Nick Nightmare Investigates’ that it made me want to reread ‘Night of the Heroes’, the novel which first introduced Nick Nightmare, so I did.

Rupert Mears has been assigned the job of moving the contents of a crumbling old library to a new location. While there, he rereads a few favourite old pulps, novels & comics, but in each case the ending has changed; all of them now end with a mysterious storm—much like the one outside. He leaves, having achieved very little, and then his adventures begin.

Mears finds himself attacked by strange men, who are not quite men, and eventually finds himself in a different world—Pulpworld. The characters from the various books & magazines he was reading all find themselves drawn to this world, as part of the evil plan of a familiar-seeming oriental criminal mastermind.

In what has to be the ultimate crossover adventure, the five who are six, have to be brought together to fight a terrifying evil. The characters are familiar, but not mere pastiches. The influences are obvious, but mixed, giving us characters who are notably different from their most obvious source. The most instantly recognisable is Palgrave Reverence, and his companion, Dr. Jameson—the reason the five are six—an obvious Holmes and Watson pastiche. Except that Reverence also has a touch of the occult detective about him, in that he employs certain psychic abilities to aid him in his work—much to the disgust of Jameson. The others are a swamp monster, a barbarian warrior, a Batmanesque superhero and a man with an uncontrollable powerhouse of a beast locked inside him.

We also meet other characters, native to Pulpworld: an alternate world version of H. Rider Haggard, the Black Bowman and the Shadow Woman, and of course, Nick Nightmare. As in the more recent Nick Nightmare stories, there’s a considerable Lovecraftian element, and it’s quite plain where the influence for the seaport of Dunsmouth came from. Finally, I mustn’t forget to mention Montifellini and his wonderful Magic Bus.

Despite what would seem like a dizzying number of elements, Adrian Cole keeps a tight rein on the plot and it all makes perfect sense. Crossover fiction fans, super hero comic fans, sword and sorcery fans, weird menace pulp fans, hard-boiled detective fiction fans—all of them should enjoy this excellent novel.