Bad guys, beware! Evil aliens, run in fear! Axe Cop (****) is here, and he’s going to chop your head off! You have to take this for what it is–pure nonsense from the mind of a five-year-old. The story goes that cartoonist Ethan Nicolle was playing with his little brother Malachi, aged five, when his brother picked up a toy fire ax and handed it to him and told him he was an “Axe Cop.” The ensuing playtime was so hilarious that Ethan sketched a couple pages based on what his brother had told him, just for the family. A couple weeks later he put the pages online as an experiment in the webcomics format, just seeing how it worked without having to create any new material. He wasn’t planning to be the funniest new thing on the internet, but that’s what happened. The result is comedic genius. Why do we ever have to grow up and stunt our imaginations?
So yeah. This is pretty much nonsensical. There’s really not a lot of consistency, characters come and go based on Malachai’s whims (did I forget to mention? He’s the writer. Ethan calls him up, gets the story, then translates it to the page. Most of the narration is unfiltered Malachai.), deus ex machina plays a hefty role at times, and its just generally not great storytelling. But its frakkin’ hilarious! And it takes us back to the times when things didn’t have to make sense, when G.I. Joe and Batman could team up to take on Darth Vader and his minions in their Great Adventures Castle hideout. What? You never did that? Uh….me neither. Heh heh….
Content: This is almost hyper-violent, but so unrealistic that you can’t even be disturbed by it. No sex or language (Come on, the writer’s five!)
Title: Gunman’s Tally
Author: L. Ron Hubbard
Publisher/Copyright: Galaxy Press, 2013
I won my copy of Gunman’s Tally through the Goodreads Firstreads program. The only effect this has on my review is that it ensures its existence.
It is my well-documented and firmly-held belief that a work of fiction does not have to hold some deeper meaning to be worth the time spent reading it–the job of every novel I pick up is first and foremost to entertain me, all other purposes come after. (Obviously this doesn’t hold true for informational or nonfiction works, although making the reading experience enjoyable there too would be a good thing.) So while some would dismiss those tales that came out of the “Golden Age of the Pulps” as worthless drivel, I consider them endless entertainment. Some of them are poorly written crap, of course, but even our enlightened age produced Twilight, so I think we have no room to judge. Anyway, Galaxy Press is publishing a series reprinting all of L. Ron Hubbard’s stories from that Golden Age spanning a vast variety of genres.
This volume consists of the main story, Gunman’s Tally, (about 70 pages) as well as the shorter Ruin At Rio Piedras (about 30 pages,) plus two essays on Hubbard and the Golden Age of the Pulps that I suspect grace each volume in the series. In Gunman’s Tally, greedy cattle baron George Barton tries to obtain Easy Bill Gates’ fertile Las Pinas ranch the cheap way–with lead. It’s cheaper to hire a gunslinger to kill Bill’s brother than to just offer a fair price for the land. But when Bill kills the gunhand in a blind rage, he gains a reputation and paints a target on his back. Now every gunhand in the territory–or that Barton can lure into the territory–is going to be trying to make a name for himself by challenging Gates….. Ruin At Rio Piedras I really can’t summarize without giving it away, so let’s just say it pits a loyal but disfavored cowhand against rustlers and his boss’s disloyal favorite.
Gunman’s Tally was an engaging tale, and well constructed. I did see the slight twist at the end coming, but that was more to do with my longtime reading habits than Hubbard giving it away. Ruin At Rio Piedras was not quite as good, but that’s why it’s the backup story. I will certainly look to read more of these collections whenever I can find them.
Content: mild language, a bit of violence, but nothing too disturbing.