Monday, September 9, 2013

Mutants Amok #2: Mutant Hell

Mutants Amok #2: Mutant Hell, by Mark Grant
March, 1991  Avon Books

If ever there was a series aimed like a heatseeker for the minds of preteen boys, then Mutants Amok would be it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about neutered garbage like Harry Potter or Twilight or whatever other metrosexual banality that's currently hot in the teen fiction marketplace; I’m talking about books with graphic sex, violence, and juvenile prose. These would be the perfect books to give to some punk kid who claims to not be interested in reading. And no wonder he isn’t – the shit today sucks!!

Mutant Hell is even more brain-addled than its predecessor, and I mean that as a compliment. This is a book that leaves no lowbrow stone unturned, from characters puking and pissing on each other to hyper-explicit sex scenes to gutchurningly gory action sequences. And hell, buried beneath the extreme material there’s actually a theme, one any kid could get behind: rebellion, and learning to think for oneself.

But anyway, the Mutants Amok series is still pretty dumbheaded. It’s more cartoonish than serious, and what with its teenage protagonists (well, two of them are at least) and their naïve mindsets, it just seems to me that this series was really designed for and catered to preteen and teen males. I was around 16 years old when these novels were published, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t know about them at the time, as doubtless I would’ve loved them.

This installment picks up immediately after the first, so you’d do well to read that one first, as Mutants Amok is a continuity-heavy series. Jack Bender and pal Phil Potts have escaped their human slave farm and Jack’s flying an airplane which belongs to Max Turkel, freedom fighter extraordinaire. Turkel has been captured, though, taken to mutant headquarters in the Rocky Mountains, and Jack and Phil are on the way to rescue him. Plus Jack is burning with rage because he wants vengeance for the murder last volume of his girlfriend Jenny – though Jack does not yet know that Jenny is in fact still alive.

Turkel meanwhile is in deep shit. He’s strapped to a colossal robot that tortures him for the amusement of a VIP audience, among them Emperor Charlemagne, ruler of the mutants. Charlemagne, relishing the long-awaited capture of the infamous Max Turkel, spits on him; here’s an example of the lowbrow, grossout mindset I mentioned above:

The Emperor hawked and hemmed noisily and then spat a voluminous quantity of lumpy phlegm into Max Turkel’s face.

It was like getting slapped with mucus pie. The malodorous stuff, chockful of noisome green and brown chunks of effluvia, slimed down Turkel’s face, rivered down his shirted chest and legs, and then hung like a mutated Christmas tree ornament to the ends of his shoes.

And check out how the still-bound Turkel, having managed to unzip his fly, gets his revenge:

The urine arced up, a fountain of gold, spilling down in a racehorse rush directly on the side of Emperor Charlemagne’s face.

“Ah,” said Max Turkel.

He directed the stream to make sure that he got the most out of this, probably his penultimate statement, knowing that his last would be a strangled death rattle.

The pee poured yellow and hot into the large, hideous face. Into the eyes it streamed, trickling down into the splayed nostrils and wide fish mouth.

The Emperor spluttered with astonishment and anger.

The room of mutant attendants was absolutely silent with horror and shock.

And the piss just kept on coming.

Of course Turkel isn’t killed outright; the mutants want to extract intel from his brain, like where the human rebels hide and etc. Here we get a few flashbacks into Turkel’s past, growing up with freedom fighters, falling in love, and losing his girl in a raid on a mutant camp. Jack and Phil meanwhile land the plane in the midwest, in need of fuel; they stop outside of a farm of “halfsies,” aka mutant/human hybrids who are not violently opposed to humans like the mutants are.

The halfsie family is the cliched farmland folk, and of course there’s the gorgeous farmer’s daughter, who you wouldn’t be surprised to know comes to Jack’s bed that night. We get the beginnings of a hot and heavy scene, but Jack suspects something’s up and turns the girl away. So she goes to Phil Potts’s room, and nearly screws the guy to death – turns out her goal is to zap men of all their sperm, which she stores in a special cavity, to later be sold for vast profits (mutants and halfsies being unable to reproduce, hence the reason why humans still exist).

After a gory battle Jack and Phil are on their way again, and in their next stop, outside the Rockies, they meet up with American Indians who live free from the mutant yoke. They play ‘60s rock and dole out hippie prattle, and among them is Jill Morningstar, a petite young woman whom Jack instantly falls for. And guess what, that night Jill comes to Jack’s bed! (If there’s one thing I learned from Mutant Hell, it’s that if you are a single guy traveling around and stay as a guest in some stranger’s house, a gorgeous woman will come into your room and offer herself to you that night…but then, I’ve learned this lesson many times over from personal experience.)

The goofy, juvenile tone extends to the (otherwise quite explicit) sex scenes as well:

Standing up from the bed, he slipped his pants off. His penis was already swollen and ready, and Jill Morningstar licked her lips as she reached out and slid her fingers gently up the scrotum and then along the length of the rod. “I can’t wait for you to put that in me,” she said enthusiastically.

“Neither can it!”

Meanwhile BrainGeneral Torx, the mutant sadist who adbucted Jenny in the previous volume, bides his time at mutant HQ, using human captives as moving targets for his new collection of firearms. Another BrainGeneral appears here, Harten, who is part of a plot with Torx to oust the insane Charlemagne. But for whatever reason Torx is delaying their plan, so Harten does the unexpected and reaches out to Max Turkel.

Here David Bischoff (aka “Mark Grant”) adds a new layer to the previously black-and-white series; Harten doesn’t hate humans, and in fact intimates that one day they should be free. In a neat bit he turns Turkel’s own racism back on him; after Turkel keeps arguing that humans should be free and rule the planet alone, Harten points out the hypocrisy of Turkel’s heavy-handed pleas for “freedom.” Anyway Turkel accepts the offer and beats a gory retreat from mutant HQ, thanks to some weapons Harten leaves for him.

Jenny’s fate remains a mystery, and Jack learns she’s still alive in the very last paragraph of the novel, which we are to understand will cause some trouble, given that he’s now also fallen in love with Jill Morningstar. Jack finds out about Jenny thanks to Turkel, who apparently got the information from Torx himself – the climatic action scene of the novel sees Torx and Turkel going mano e mutant with broadswords, and at great length (and page count) Turkel gets the better of Torx. Plus he chops off his hands, but whether Torx lives or dies is something else left a mystery.

Anyway, while this series isn’t great literature by any means, I still say it would be the perfect gateway drug for some kid to get into the world of men’s adventure. And even beyond that, it’s just a lot of dumb, gory, sex-filled fun.


thedarkman said...

By far, the best part of your review was the opening paragraph. I could not have said it better myself. Today's genre fiction, for the most part, is a steaming pile of P.C. puke! Way to go Joe, tell it like it is!

Griffin Calhoun said...

Harry Potter is bad? I agree with Twilight 100% but as far as actual kids books go, Harry Potter is not half bad

I mean anything that pisses dumbass Christians off so badly must be doing something right

Joe Kenney said...

Thanks guys for the comments. TheDarkman, glad you feel the same way! Griffin, I confess, I've never read Harry Potter, but I just lump it in with all the other tepid crap of today, taking the Harold Bloom route (I think he referred to those books as "garbage"), but you might have a point.

I guess I just blame it for the current glut of preteen-focused fiction and's like everything published and filmed today is geared toward the all-important PG-13 demographic, and I feel that something's been lost in this blanket neutering. I mean, when I was a kid most action movies were hard Rs, like Robocop and etc. Could you imagine Robocop being released today? (I'm sure the remake won't have smidgen of the original's violence.) Kids like me were well below the required 17 years old to see those movies, but we still saw them.

And yet, despite those violent movies and books, back then you didn't hear about some nutjob blowing away innocent people in a movie theater, or any of the other senseless acts of violence perpetrated by the youth of today.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Correct use of the word 'penultimate'!

Totally agree with the others on the first paragraph. Great stuff. I too would have eaten these books up at 15. I would probably still today, thus they are added to my list.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Also, are you anywhere to be found on Google+

Not that you need to be, but there has been a bit of decent book talk and I was pimping your blog.

Griffin Calhoun said...

@Joe: kids today at least have violent video games, I played Grand Theft Auto 3 when I was all of 12 years old for example

Joe Kenney said...

Thanks guys for the comments.

OlmanFeelyus, you are correct, I'm not on Google+, but thanks for pimping my blog! And also hope you enjoy the Mutants Amok books if you get around to reading them.

Griffin, you once again bring up a good point -- it's been so long since I played a video game I didn't even think of them. However I have played GTA 3, so I know exactly what you are talking about.

halojones-fan said...

Violence: Well, the Judge Dredd movie wasn't afraid to be hella violent. Unfortunately it also forgot the humor half of Judge Dredd, but we did get to see a woman disintegrate some dude's head with a machine gun.