Friday, July 22, 2022

Men's Adventure Quarterly #5: The Dirty Mission Issue - Robert Deis and Bill Cunningham, eds.

MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY moves into its second year of publication with issue #5, the Dirty Mission Issue. And I’m happy to report that this latest offering more than lives up to the very high standards set by the previous issues. The men’s adventure magazines probably published more stories about World War II than any other subject, and as you can tell from that great cover by Bruce Minney, this issue concentrates on stories about daring raids carried out by commando forces made up of criminals, prostitutes, and rugged American G.I.s.

The prototype for that plot, of course, is THE DIRTY DOZEN, the bestselling novel by E.M. Nathanson and the famous movie made from it. Or is it? Turns out the inspiration for that novel was a real-life group of commandos known as the Filthy Thirteen, and old pulpster Arch Whitehouse contributes an article about them from the October 1944 issue of the men’s magazine TRUE. That tale kicks off the line-up of stories reprinted in this issue of MAQ, the rest of which are completely fictional, by the way.

The only other author in this bunch whose by-line can be identified as his real name and not a pseudonym is Donald Honig, who has the longest story in the book with “Savage Comrades”, from the September 1969 issue of MALE. There’s been a Honig story in every issue of MAQ so far, because he was a fine writer, and he doesn’t disappoint here. In “Savage Comrades”, he comes up with a neat twist on the criminals-turned-commandos plot by making them German POWs who, because of their criminal history before the war, don’t want the Nazis to win. Along with a couple of American GIs to run the mission, they’re sent in to blow up a vital jet fuel refinery.

The term “Lace Panty Commandos” has become sort of a running joke among men’s adventure magazine fans. The story that coined the term, “The Wild Raid of Gibbon’s Lace Panty Commandos” (MAN’S BOOK, June 1963) is included here, are are “The Desperate Raid of Wilson’s Lace Panty Guerrillas” (WORLD OF MEN, March 1963), “Free the Girls of Love Captive Stalag” (MEN, December 1967), “Death Doll Platoon” (MAN’S STORY, February 1972), “The 5 Wild Missions of O’Brien’s Submarine Commandos” (STAG, November 1973), and “G.I. River Rats Who Blasted the Nazis’ Sex Circus Villa” (STAG, November 1973). That last story has a great bit of copy on its first page: “The guests were top Nazi officers—perhaps even Rommel—and the wild assassination scheme included a mute wrestler, a bear, and a team of underwater daredevils . . .” If you can read that and not want to read the story that goes with it, well, you have more will power than I do. I found all these stories to be very entertaining.

The great fanzine publisher Justin Marriott contributes an article about Dirty Missions in British comics, featuring a couple of my favorite series, the Rat Pack and the Convict Commandos, both written by Alan Hebden, along with covering a number of other series that sound intriguing. Blogger/author Joe Kenney provides an essay about his introduction to the men’s adventure magazines, and like everything he writes, it’s enjoyable and informative. I mentioned Bruce Minney, but there are also dozens of reproductions of great covers and interior art by Minney, Norm Eastman, Gil Cohen, Frank McCarthy, Al Rossi, Walter Popp, and Franklin Wittmack, as well as others I’ve probably overlooked or forgotten. And that doesn’t even include the features on beautiful models Eva Lynd and Mala Mastroberte. For great art and production, you just can’t beat MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY.

The Dirty Mission Issue gets the same very high recommendation from me that the previous issues have. You can buy it directly from the publisher via his eBay page. And coming up next time around, as previewed in this one: the Heist Issue! Something tells me it’ll be a good one.


Walker Martin said...

Excellent review. I have all five issues and also recommend this magazine. Full color throughout and definitely a quality production by the editors.

Robert Deis (aka "SubtropicBob") said...

Wow! It's an honor to get a such glowing review from you, James! Thank you VERY much. Thanks also to Walker Martin for hiss nice comment. I hope to see you at PulpFest, Walker!

Todd Mason said...

That does sound improbably attractive, even to me, whose interest in the general run of Men's Sweat magazines is close to nil...but then I'm reminded that Avram Davidson wrote meticulously-researched historical essays for them in the '50s (since they would pay, if not well, for same), and no shortage of other talented writers did work for them...if not usually their best. I might give this a try and see what I've been foolishly missing...or not!

Cunningham said...

Thanks, James. We appreciate your insightful reviews of our work. Thanks for keeping us on our toes and striving to make each issue better than the last.

Adventuresfantastic said...

With story titles like that, how can I not want to read this?