Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tracker #2: Green Lightning

Tracker #2: Green Lightning, by Ron Stillman
December, 1990 Charter Books

Tracker #1 was one of the worst novels I've ever read. Luckily this second volume is a bit better, but to quote John Lennon, "It couldn't get much worse." It still has the same juvenile mindset and writing, with a too-perfect hero who manages to instill hatred in the reader, but gussies it up this time out with sadism, sex, and a bunch of dirty words. So in other words this one reads like the work of a 15 year-old instead of a 12 year-old.

To recap, our hero is Natty Tracker, an Air Force hotshot who was rendered blind in the first installment. But Tracker, a martial arts expert who gets all the gals, is also a genius, and soon devised a sort of SONAR for his eyes. By now however he's developed his own high-tech eyeballs which allow him to see not only normally, but Six Million Dollar Man-style, able to zoom in and out. Which means he's only become more perfect. You see, nothing fazes Tracker, no one can stop him or beat him, and he's capable of godlike acts. The novel, like its predecessor, has all of the insight and plot development of a coloring book, as Tracker finds out who the bad guys are and proceeds to beat them soundly, again and again.

Green Lightning attempts to go over the top, which is fine and would work, if only the book wasn't so goddamn stupid. We open with a scene in which a cross-dressing assassin attempts to kill the president of the US during a basketball game. However Tracker is on the court, impersonating a player (yep, he can contend with professional athletes as well), and manages to take out the killer, who turns out to be the same guy who killed Tracker's girlfriend in volume #1. Soon Tracker learns that a Japanese conglomerate wants to kill him: The Green Lightning, a COBRA-type army who send wave after wave of ninjas after him.

The head of this organization is a gorgeous Japanese gal named Jaki Kurakawa, a doctor who has sapphic tendencies; she employs an American sociopath named Henrietta "Hank" James to kill Tracker. This is the most sadistic section of the novel as we see Hank in action. A gorgeous lady herself, Hank likes to seduce men, take them back to her place, and then dismember them, even keeping their severed part in display cases. She then murders the poor sap, who nevertheless lives on in Hank's mind as part of a cheering throng, a throng which urges Hank on before each of her next kills. Hank was raped and tortured by her father as a child, which we are told is the cause of her insanity. Because, you know, everything can be blamed on our childhoods. To up the lurid quotient, we not only get to see snippets of Hank's childhood (during which she eventually murdered her father) but also see her as she dismembers and kills a guy.

You might remember the PC overtones of the previous novel; they're still here, if a bit subdued. However they come to the fore with the character of Hank, whom Tracker promptly begins to pity. Yes, this bloodlusting murder who tries to kill Tracker himself is a target of pity for our politically-correct protagonist, who arranges the woman's capture. He then sees that Hank is sent to a mental care facility, all the long regretting her fate and feeling sorry for the monster. (I wonder how Johnny Rock would've handled her?)

Undaunted, the Green Lightning sends teams of ninjas after Tracker. During a carchase Tracker, nude, hops in the car of an innocent passerby while trying to escape. The driver of course turns out to be a hot-as-hell lady named Dee, who despite being shot at and chased begins to flirt with this nude stranger who just jumped into her car. Pretty soon she's shacked up with Tracker in his home, for her "safety" of course. Here follows another OTT scene where a team of ninjas attack Tracker's house; at one point Tracker, again naked, dodges a sword-thrust by hopping up onto his chin-up bar and, since he's weaponless, pisses on the ninja's face. This is something I hope to never see in a kung-fu film.

But man, it just gets dumber and dumber. Tracker keeps pulling raids on the Green Lightning, taking on legions of ninjas and even their best fighter, hopping back and forth from Japan to Colorado as if they were next door to each other. Sometimes Dee is with him, sometimes she isn't. When she is they exchange incredibly horrible banter and dialog. In fact the dialog in this novel is some of the worst I've ever read, with exposition balder than Kojak. Check out this gem from Dee, as she informs Tracker toward the end that he doesn't have to worry about her falling in love with him:

"Tracker, I know what you're saying. Let me explain myself, though. I don't want kids or a white picket fence. I love my job and I make good money with it. I also enjoy spending the money on vacations and excitement. You bring excitement into my life, Natty Tracker. I know you meet beautiful women all over the world, and I know what your life is like, but your life is so exciting, I can only take it in small doses. I enjoy that and can still enjoy my work as well. I don't want to own you, brand you, or bear your children. I want to share some quiet times, exciting times, and romantic times with you, and that's it."

I mean, this shit makes Harold Robbins seem like Proust. There are better (by which I mean worse) examples I could've shown, but that one will have to do. It's all just so bad and so stupid that it makes me shake my head in regret. Again, this series could've been something, an OTT goof on the genre, but intead it's the worst of the genre, a men's adventure novel as neutered as one of Hank's victims, and what gets me the most is I'll have to soldier my way through the rest of the series, as I bought the entire run and don't want to have fully wasted my money.


AndyDecker said...
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AndyDecker said...

What is the point of being blind with this character, if he is Superman?

Sure, everyone of these guys has his "special angle". Jerry Ahern´s Hank Frost has only one eye, his John Rourke is a family man, John Eagle is half an Apache, Mack Bolan (used to be) Joe Public. Sometimes those elements are important to the story, sometimes not.

But here it seems so useless.

Zwolf said...

It's always weird to me when they get a hero who supposedly has a handicap, but it turns out he has a method to MORE than compensate for what he's lacking. This series sounds like it could've been a cool Zatoichi kind of thing, but they turn it into the Bionic Man. I've seen a few of these books around but never picked any up...

francisco said...
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