Monday, June 4, 2012
The Executioner #262: Trigger Point
The Executioner #262: Trigger Point, by Gerald Montgomery
September, 2000 Gold Eagle Books
I've been meaning to read this book for twelve years now. Back in late 2000, during a brief spark of re-interest in the men's adventure genre (which I hadn't read since I was a kid), I found myself on mackbolan.com, where this recently-published volume was being hotly debated on the forum. (This was also when I discovered that Gar Wilson didn't exist.) After reading the comments I went right out to a WaldenBooks store and bought a copy of Trigger Point...and it's sat unread in a box until now.
This was the first installment of a trilogy entitled "COMCON," written by first-time Gold Eagle ghostwriter Gerald Montgomery. It was also the first of only four books Montgomery wrote for the publisher; by all accounts he had some issues with them, as apparently Montgomery wanted to take Mack "Executioner" Bolan into different places than the usual terrorist-wasting storylines. It seems Gold Eagle started off on the same page as Montgomery; it's a wonder Trigger Point was even published, as it's basically an overhaul of the entire Bolan mythos, putting the Executioner up against a globe-spanning army of neo-Nazis who plan to destroy the US Constitution and take over the world.
The group goes by the name COMCON -- the Committee to destroy the Constitution -- and they mask themselves under the guise of real-life federal agency FEMA. Be preprared for a whole hell of a lot of FEMA-bashing in this book. Over and over again we are told that FEMA is basically an un-Constitutional agency, a government division created to take over the country in case of emergencies. In other words, if the emergency was great enough, FEMA could end all democratic freedoms and place the entire country under marshall law.
But Montgomery has it that FEMA is the brainchild of Nazis who came to America after WWII as part of "Operation Paperclip," in which the US imported all kinds of Nazi elite and put them to work in various governmental institutions and agencies, both to use their knowledge and also to keep them from the Soviets.
So, these Nazis have spawned their own vast army of black-garbed neo-Nazis, true fascists all, who plan to subvert the US Constitution and take over the country, initiating a New World Order (cue the Ministry track). Not only that, but they have high-tech military equipment that's beyond anything in the US arsenal; Montgomery doesn't get into details in this first volume, but apparently the COMCON guys run out of infamous Area 51, where it seems they have come upon some "advanced" weaponry. In Trigger Point this is displayed in their sleek gunship helicopters which are nuclear powered.
To recap: Nazis came to America after the war and got jobs within the government, they secretly banded together with plans to continue the Reich, they called themselves "COMCON" after their plans to destroy the Constitution, and they hid their activities behind the mantle of FEMA, which they themselves created. They now have endless legions of armed minions and command various secret bases, and also, due to their FEMA powers, can mandate "emergencies" wherever they want, thereby taking over entire towns with Federal authority. They in fact supercede the authority of the President, who meanwhile they have firmly in the pocket anyway.
The obvious question is, if COMCON is so powerful and so prevalent, how in the hell has it taken Bolan so long to come across them? To Montgomery's credit, he does answer this, having Bolan guess that some of the "shadowy government-type" organizations he's dealt with in the past were most likely COMCON agents. In other words, he's fought them before, he just didn't know who they were. But still, it's a bit far-fetched. I'm not saying it's bad or anything, it's just all very sci-fi and crazy, and thus a bit hard to swallow after the "real-world" banality of most other Gold Eagle Executioner novels.
But as I've mentioned many times, I like the crazy shit. Trigger Point gets pretty crazy, with COMCON-brainwashed teenagers (mostly girls) becoming Terminators, blitzing their way through schools and etc. This is how Bolan gets into it; there have been a rash of school shootings in the US, all of them perpetrated by teens who then killed themselves.
A government official (believe it or not, a Democrat!), who is aware of COMCON and is determined to stop them, realizes that this is the neo-Nazis's master plan finally becoming a reality: they intend to use these school shootings to engender mass protests across the US, for people to call on a ban of assault weapons, so that once the weapons are out of the public's hands COMCON will have little resistance when they finally move in to create their NWO.
I remember when this novel came out, Montgomery had a website (now gone) where he stated that his two favorite authors were Don Pendleton and Hunter Thompson. I also remember he stated it was his intention to return the Pendleton spirit to the Gold Eagle novels. Strangely though, Bolan is in full-on cipher mode in Trigger Point. There's nothing about him different from any other stoic men's adventure protagonist; he's just a stone-cold patriot determined to destroy COMCON and thus save the US Republic. Pendleton's Bolan was human, but then, it's my contention that the Gold Eagle Bolan should just be considered a wholly different character from Pendleton's original.
After being called in, Bolan meets with the COMCON-opposed diplomat and the two are promptly attacked by those nuke-powered helicopters and a legion of COMCON commandos. This is probably the best action sequence in the book, with Bolan taking on the gunship and the troops with his handy M-16/grenade launcher combo. Montgomery doesn't go too far out in the gore department, just delivering taut action scenes.
One thing I didn't enjoy as much however is that Montgomery tends to write his action scenes like military fiction. In particular the finale, in which Bolan leads a group of Rangers on an assault on COMCON's "Tranquility Base." It all comes off like Blackhawk Down, with Bolan directing fire squads and mortar rounds and etc. I'm assuming that Montgomery has some military experience, as he knows of what he writes, but personally I prefer it when action scenes have all the reality of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Commando.
The best element here though is that Tranquility Base stuff -- it's a secret COMCON base which poses as a Christian teen-rehabilitation center. Here a Nazi-lovin' brainwashing genius oversees the staff, and any kid who comes in who has a history of being sexually assaulted is shunted off to the secret underground lair, where they are promptly brainwashed. They're given multiple personalities, from assault troops to intel couriers. Montgomery gets pretty lurid here, and there's also a cool scene where Bolan performs a "soft probe" of the base; shades of Death Merchant #36: The Cosmic Reality Kill.
Really though, the majority of Trigger Point is given over to setting up the ensuing volumes. There are a lot of scenes of Bolan and his fellow Stony Man commandos learning about COMCON and FEMA, but Montgomery does spice it up every once in a while with an action scene -- there's also another good sequence where Bolan and his fellows take on one of those reprogrammed teenage girls. This must be the only scene in a Bolan novel where the Executioner goes up against a machine gun-toting schoolgirl. Another good scene is later on where Bolan poses as a COMCON "man in black" and meets a gorgeous female agent who is against COMCON; not sure if she shows up again, but her presence was a nice touch in the male-centric Gold Eagle world.
I know the trilogy only got the crazier as it went on -- the next one, Iron Fist, has Bolan going up against a nanotech-powered COMCON monster. After a decade-plus I went out and finally bought the rest of the trilogy, as well as Montgomery's fourth and final novel for Gold Eagle. While Trigger Point didn't blow me away, it was nice to see a Gold Eagle ghostwriter trying to do something different with the series, so I look forward to reading the rest of his work.