Monday, July 16, 2018

The Iceman #2: The Golden Shaft

The Iceman #2: The Golden Shaft, by Joseph Nazel
March, 1974  Holloway House

Has it really been eight years since I read the first volume  of Iceman? Judging from my review, I didn’t much like it, but I bet if I were to read it again I’d enjoy it more. Eight years of reading trash pretty much rots your brain, folks, so whereas I was apparently expecting something more “literary” back in 2010, these days I’d probably just be content to read all the copious descriptions of guts getting blown out.

Well anyway I didn’t even realize I had this second volume. I knew I had a couple of the later ones, thus it was a pleasure to discover The Golden Shaft sitting in the same box as the rest of them. It seemed then only mere logic that I read this volume next, having previously read the first volume. Sorry, no idea where I was going with that. To cut to the chase, I actually enjoyed this one – as with Billion Dollar Death, it’s basically full-on Blaxploitation, lacking only a suitable soundtrack.

Speaking of that previous book, too-cool-for-words Henry Highland West, aka the Iceman, often relfects back on the incidents which occurred therein, “some time ago.” We’re first treated to an overlong prologue which reminds us who Iceman is, how he got his start, how he moved to his high-tech casino-fortress-cathouse, the Oasis, in the desert outside Vegas, complete with a massive computer in the bowls of the place that keeps Iceman abreast of what’s going on in the outside world. As ever he’s accompanied by his consorts Kim (Chinese) and Solema (African), and his favorite color is powder blue, so all his various Adventure Joe-like accessories are colored thusly: his dirt bike, his helicopter, his dirt buggy.

We start right in on the action, as a pack of bikers bully an old gold prospector, ultimately blowing him away. But this old prospector happens to be a friend of Iceman’s, and indeed all this is happening not too far from the Oasis. Not only that, but Iceman happens to be dirt-biking with Kim and Solema, and he heads off to see what the hell’s goin’ on. Probably the Man, fool! Just kidding; the spirit of these books is contagious. Anyway Iceman busts out his .44 automatic and starts gunning down biker scum – Nazel as ever delivers good gore, with brains blown out and the like. Iceman’s women all carry .38s in their knee-high leather boots, by the way, so Solema also guns down some biker creeps. 

Iceman’s been burning for some action, so he sees this as a chance to let it all hang out, baby. Eventually this puts him on the track of a wealthy enterprenneur named Johns and a sadistic South African mercenary Johns employs named Martin. These two did in fact hire the bikers, as it turns out Dipper, Iceman’s prospector friend, had discovered gold on Iceman’s land, and was hiding it from Iceman; Johns wants to buy the land, and still posing as just a regular businessman he visits the Oasis with Martin in tow. True to this subgenre, the racial invective runs rampant as racist Martin leers at the women and wants to tame the black ones.

Nazel does have fun with it, like when Iceman, who instantly detects the true motive of these two, plays up to their racist attitudes, acting as if he’s having a hard time reading the funnies in the newspaper. In truth though Iceman, you of course know, is not only street-wise but brilliant, thus he has these two fools under his thumb in no time. Nazel pads a lot of pages with cutovers to the two villains, plotting and bickering, the latter because Johns is against killing to get their way. Martin though is the cliched evil white villain mandatory of the Blaxploitation genre; the fact that he comes from a country in which whites rule the blacks is often mentioned.

Last time one of Iceman’s hooker-babes was killed in the action, something Iceman reflects upon quite often – indeed, much of the too-long word count is given over to arbitrary reflections on the previous book. But while at the Oasis Martin really has his depraved eye on Brenda, a black babe who decides to do her own work when she finds out that Iceman wants to know what Martin and Johns are up to. She figures maybe she can take the bastard up on his sleazy offer to come visit him, and get some intel while he’s humping her. What’s bizarre though is that Martin, despite wanting her badly, instead goes crazy and accuses Brenda of spying for Iceman, eventually killing her in a bloody struggle. In other words, no sex, nor are there any sex scenes featuring Iceman.

For yes, once again, Joseph Nazel has taken a novel about a pimp who runs a high-tech cathouse filled with ultra-hot fillies…and does not feature a single sex scene!! I mean where’s the sex?? It’s like that Living Color skit with Sam Kinison in hell: “Where’s Hitler??!!!”

Cut to Iceman and Solema in Iceman’s blue dune buggy, heading for Dipper’s shack. Here Iceman discovers that the old prospector was ripping him off (damn white folk!), but also that old Dipper apparently regreted his duplicity and was about to come clean with Iceman. But then Iceman and Solema are ambushed by Martin and forces; Iceman seeks cover in an old mine, where he gets some dynamite. This he puts to use pronto, blowing up Johns’s home, anticlimactically killing off one of the main villains off-page. Martin meanwhile heads home to South Africa, figuring the game is up here in America.

Little does Martin know how determined Iceman can be. He’s going to South Africa to kill the mofo. Along comes Christmas Tree, Iceman’s colorfully-attired pimp pal who appeared in the previous volume. Together they, with ever-present Solema and Kim, board Iceman’s private plane and head for South Africa. Nazel delivers a brief shoutut to the previous book when the four stop over in the fictional African kingdom that was home to the diplomat almost assassinated in the previous volume; here Iceman feels he’s “home,” “among his people.”

Nazel doesn’t belabor the point when the four fly into South Africa; Iceman basically points the plane in the direction of the mine Martin’s providing security for, they land, and they proceed to kill whitey. Iceman, surprisingly, is captured, but the other three come to the rescue. It must be said that New York City pimp Christmas Tree takes quite easily to chopping off heads with a machete. And Nazel makes a hilarious miss in this same scene; he introduces the fact that Kim is armed with nunchucks, but doesn’t have her do anything – the action is solely handled by Christmas Tree and Solema. 

Iceman of course promptly frees himself, leading to an overdone finale in which Martin runs away into the nearby mine, and Iceman follows him into the total darkness of the place. He ends up kicking the guy’s ass and leaving him to die in a cave-in. And that’s all she wrote for The Golden Shaft; Iceman heads on back to the Oasis to his loyal fillies, and they’re all a family again.

All told I found this one pretty entertaining, and also Iceman has a couple bad-ass lines throughout, but given that he usually refers to himself via the dreaded N-word, I fear if I quoted any of them Google would probably shut down the blog.  

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