Thursday, September 1, 2016

Doomsday Warrior #11: American Eden

Doomsday Warrior #11: American Eden, by Ryder Stacy
June, 1987  Zebra Books

Ryder Syvertsen basically hits the reset button on this eleventh installment of Doomsday Warrior; it’s nine months after the “it was all a dream – or was it?" events of the previous volume, and a full year after the events of #9: America’s Zero Hour. When last we saw Ted “Doomsday Warrior/Ultimate American” Rockson, he was walking his way back to Colorado from the Utah desert and his “Rock team” was all the way up in Alaska. As expected, all of the main characters are already back in Century City when American Eden opens, and Syvertsen takes his time backfilling us on the past year.

One notable element here is that Rockson and pals figure Colonel Killov is dead; apparently they haven’t tangled with the Russians much in the past year, so everyone assumes Killov was killed in the climactic moments of the ninth volume. Indeed the Russians don’t factor much in American Eden, which again gives the book almost the feeling of a reset switch – now our heroes are more concerned with keeping post-nuke America safe and rebuilding its strength. In that regard the series is becoming akin to David Robbinss Endworld and Blade books – which speaking of I really need to get around to reading.

Anyway, Rockson has fully recovered from his bizarre experiences last time out (the events of which have been kept secret from everyone save Century City resident wizard Dr. Schecter, who hopes Rockson’s strange experience might lead to a breakthrough in time travel!), and also his love life has gotten a lot less complicated; we’re informed at the outset that Kim, the other love of Rockson’s life, is currently in “New Omicron City,” a fellow Freefighter underground city, and has been there for a month. Hence Rockson’s only gal this time around is Rona, that statuesque redhead who is by far the best post-nuke babe there is. But my friends brace yourself for this one – there isn’t a single sex scene in American Eden! I kid you not. The one thing we can usually count on Syvertsen for – the purple-prosed sleaze – is nowhere to be found. That being said, at one point Rona is stripped and whipped… 

The year off has given Rockson and pals a chance to rest and recuperate; it’s also made Sheransky, the pudgy Russian communications officer who joined them in the ninth volume, to not only lose the fat and gain a bunch of muscle but also become a permanent member of the so-called Rock team. While the other main characters are all the same, titanic mountain man Archer has undergone an unusual change. As we’ll recall, last we saw him in America’s Zero Hour, Archer was suffering from a friggin’ axe to the head. Some New Agey-type healers were working on him…and here we learn that they embedded a bunch of crystals in the axe-created cavity in Archer’s skull! Now the gems “spark blue and red whenever Archer tries to think too profound,” per Rock team member McGaughlin.

But Syvertsen doesn’t spend too much time reaquainting us with life in idyllic Century City; posthaste a stranger arrives half-dead near the city’s secret entrances, a character bearing grim news. This is Peth Danik, an emaciated albino who comes from a place called Eden, somewhere in the mountains of Mexico. Gradually we’ll learn that Eden is a biosphere, created shortly before WWIII by a billionaire named Renquist. Over the past century the people of Eden have lived underground, to the point where they’re now ill-nourished albinos at the point of extinction. While the rank and file still live in squalor, the rich rulers are doing just fine, and a megalomaniac named Stafford has declared himself dictator and plans to release an airborne germ weapon called Factor Q upon the surface world, so the people of Eden can leave their underworld and take over.

Thus Rockson and team must once again gear up and head out into the nuke-ravaged world. Only this time, at long last, Rona is again part of the team – she insists, against Rockson’s hesitations, that she be allowed to go along. Unfortunately the mandatory post-nuke survivalist fiction section of American Eden is for the most part a retread of America’s Zero Hour, as once again the Rock team must venture out into subzero conditions. They even bring along a bunch of dog sleds, same as in that earlier book. But it’s all basically a post-nuke Jack London deal as the Rock team (plus Peth) head out into the wild frozen yonder.

Only problem is, Peth doesn’t know where exactly Eden is; he is the last surviving member of his party, which left Eden against Stafford’s orders. This entails a lot of stuff with Rockson et al trying to find the remains of Peth’s party, where they hope to find a survey book, which might provide enough landmarks for Rockson to work backward and figure out where they started from. Surprisingly, there are no surprise attacks from the Russians here, which I figured would be a given – not even one of those drone fly-bys as would occasionally happen in previous books. Instead it’s just Rockson and team sledding across the rugged snow with their mutant dogs.

Eventually they meet a tribe of Indians led by Chief Smokestone, whom Century City intelligence chief Rath has told Rockson will act as a contact for the team. Smokestone has a bunch of Harley Davidsons for Rockson, but first he must regale us with a lot of liberal hogwash about the evils of white people (not to mention the meat processing industry!). This whole section could be cut out and placed in the average history textbook of today’s “progressively liberalized” schools, fitting right in with the socialist agenda of the modern American education system. At any rate Rockson listens eagerly to the claptrap, for which he’s called a “fellow Indian” by Smokestone – who, unfortunately, decides to go along with the team to Eden. But humorously enough, Syvertsen apparently forgets all about him, providing Smokestone one or two lines before he meets his expected redshirt of an ending.

Things don’t really come to a head until the final hundred or so pages. Finally having come to the secret tunnel which gradually leads to Eden, somewhere in Mount Obispo, Peth only now recalls another underground world called Death City, which was founded by a splinter group that long ago broke away from Eden. These mole people worship Eden founder Renquist, surrounding themselves with statues of the man and his wife – a lady who you won’t be surprised looked identical to Rona! In a complete retread of the subplot in #6: American Rebellion (with Rona herself even noting the similarity of events), these freaks assume Rona is the reincarnation of Mrs. Renquist and thus capture her, knocking out Rockson and the rest with some nerve gas.

These are the people who strip and whip poor Rona, with Syvertsen finally – if briefly – delivering his patented sleaze with copious detail of Rona’s nether regions being exposed as she’s bound in a bowing position for her whipping. But after quickly saving her and slaughtering the Death City freaks, the team moves on into the harsh underworld beneath Mt. Obispo, where their next attackers are “The Whisperers,” unseen entitites that try to drive them mad by playing on their fears. Then it’s back to the creature feature material Syvertsen usually delivers, with giant bats attacking next – one of them chomping right into Chief Smokestone. We also get these weird spider-shaped “ambulatory bombs” which almost get the better of the Rock team.

Stafford when we finally meet him is more annoying than threatening; compared to Nero, he’s more oafish than evil, but does plan to release Factor Q upon the surface asap. Rockson tries to play to Stafford’s ego by cowtowing, but his ruse is quickly exposed. After this it’s to the inevitable action finale, in which we learn that Rockson’s now become fond of using two new weapons: a balisong knife and an extending baton. He uses both of these in a positively endless fight with Stafford’s biogenetically-augmented henchmen. But Stafford escapes anyway, about to release Factor Q – when he’s caught in the jaws of one of those monstrous bats.

The finale of American Eden is especially goofy. For Rockson, unable to catch up with the monster bat, is approached by what appears to be a ten-year-old girl who goes by the name Starlight. She is a fairy, my friends, ie one of those “Whisperers,” and she summons her own monster bat, upon which she and Rockson hop and chase after Stafford. The climax is composed of these two flying around the center of the friggin’ Earth, wih Factor Q eventually plummeting into the lava at the Earth’s core, thus eradicating the threat.

And that’s it – once again we leave Rockson cold, with no reunion with his comrades or any sort of wrap-up to the plot with Eden. And judging from past installments my guess is the next one will open with everyone back at Century City with only cursory detail on how events played out down here in Mexico – if that. Still though, American Eden is pretty fun, and as long as you approach Doomsday Warrior as a goofy satire of the men’s adventure genre, I think you too might enjoy it.

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