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Saturday, January 12, 2019

THE BLACK EAGLES


THE BLACK EAGLES
There were numerous old school men’s adventure series which used the Vietnam War as a background. Two of the best were Saigon Commandos and M.I.A. Hunter. The Black Eagles isn’t quite in the same league, but with twenty-one titles it’s one of the longest running military action oriented men’s adventure series. The Black Eagles also sported cool thematic cover art, which was kept consistent for the entire run—a feature valued by collectors.

Published by Zebra between 1983 and 1990, The Black Eagles books were written by several different authors under the pseudonym John Lansing. As a result, the merit of the stories swings between mediocre and very good, with a couple of excellent entries. It was often Zebra's editorial policy that hurt the series by insisting on a high page count. This meant 180 pages of solid story had to be padded out to 250 pages of small print.

The highly revered men’s adventure writer William Fieldhouse, was the power behind The Black Eagles. He is perhaps best known for creating Gold Eagle’s Phoenix Force series under the pseudonym Gar Wilson. Phoenix Force, along with Able Team, were series spin-offs from Gold Eagle’s highly successful The Executioner series—the big daddy of all men’s adventure paperback originals. Phoenix Force ran for fifty-eight titles, thirty-two of which were written by Fieldhouse. He is considered ‘the’ Gar Wilson by serious Phoenix Force fans and collectors.

Prior to Phoenix Force, Fieldhouse wrote for The Executioner series. He also wrote numerous standalone and series Westerns (The Klaw, Six-Gun Samurai, Gun Lust, etc.) and other contemporary action novels under numerous pseudonyms (M.I.A. Hunter, Stony Man, and others). Along the way, he created and wrote the military action series The Hard Corps under the pseudonym Chuck Bainbridge.

Fieldhouse created The Black Eagles series when he was approached by Zebra to create a house name series about the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Fieldhouse recalls: I was not keen on this. I’m an Army veteran, but I wasn’t in Vietnam. However, when I was taking BCT at Ft. Jackson, they started pulling troops out of Nam. The veterans of that ‘conflict’ had usually been depicted in a very negative manner (demented kill-crazy psychopaths or maybe psychotic). I figured I might be able to portray U.S. troops in Nam in a more positive manner. I was already writing two series. Really didn’t want another house name project. So I came up with basic format, characters and so on, acceptable by the publisher, and farmed out the actual writing to three individuals. 

This was much the same process Stephen Mertz used when creating his M.I.A. Hunter series. Both Mertz and Fieldhouse were expected by their publishers to ensure the books were of publishable quality and to do any rewriting required. This often led to a considerable amount of unexpected work. Due to the long running success of The Black Eagles this rubbing point was exacerbated, demanding far more effort on Fieldhouse’s part than he originally envisioned. In referring to the writers he chose, Fieldhouse stated: One was a good writer with an extensive military background. Another had a track-record, but also had extremist views (political and otherwise) that steadily became more obvious in his work. The third was quite intelligent, but inexperienced as a fiction writer.

The first entry in the series, Hanoi Hellground, was written by Mark K. Roberts, an experience pulpster whose credits included the even numbered entries in The Penetrator series and four volumes in the jingoistic Soldier For Hire series. Under the house name Patrick Lee, Roberts had also contributed to the Six-Gun Samurai series, for which Fieldhouse also wrote. Along with an off-kilter (and often inappropriate) sense of humour, Roberts had a penchant for overdoing Tuckerizations—the naming of characters after many of his writer friends. Politically to the right of Joseph Rosenberger (of Death Merchant fame—or infamy), Roberts would also indulged in rants about his views to pad out his page count. Later, Roberts would create and write the Liberty Corps series, another military oriented men’s adventure genre entry.

It was Patrick E. Andrews, however, who wrote most of the remaining Black Eagles books. An Army brat growing up, Andrews enlisted in the Army at age nineteen. He served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division in the active Army and the 12th Special Forces Group Green Berets in the Army Reserves. He left military service after being injured in a parachute jump.

After the Army, Andrew’s worked as a typesetter in San Diego while sending manuscripts to numerous publishers without success. He then became a technical editor and writer in aerospace while still pursuing his fiction writing. Eventually, he began to get published (like Fieldhouse and Roberts, he also wrote for the Six-Gun Samurai series). He went on to write more than fifty novels in the men's adventure, military adventure, Western, and historical genres. Andrews writes in a breezy but his military background, however, kept his entries rooted in solid believability.

Paul Glen Neuman wrote only one Black Eagles novel, AK-47 Firefight. Neuman had previously written seven Phoenix Force books, as well as two entries in the notorious They Call Me Mercenary series (#16 China Blood Hunt and #17 Buckingham Blowout). Calling it grunt work, Neuman stated AK-47 Firefight was written under a tight deadline of six weeks for the book's approximate 240 pages. Personal interviews conducted with veterans of the War provided an insight, which proved invaluable for the novel's authenticity.

David Cheney, who wrote at least two and possibly as many as four Black Eagles entries, is a bit of an enigma. A pharmacist in the San Diego Area for over thirty-eight years, he left the men’s adventure genre behind after writing for The Black Eagles. His only other publication appears to be a 2014 sci-fi novella, Mars—The Deep Con.

Despite the varied quality of the series, The Black Eagles is worth both reading and collecting. It is a prime example of the military sub-genre under the men’s adventure masthead.
THE BLACK EAGLES

HANOI HELLGROUND
Captain Robert M. Falconi of the 5th Special Forces had his orders: the clandestine SOG needed an enforcement arm and Falconi was to put it together. Made up of the best jungle fighters if R.S. could muster, they were to take the war to Charlie - no matter where is Southeast Asia he tried to hide.

MEKONG MASSACRE
Falconi and his Black Eagles combat team are about to stake a claim on Colonel Nguyen Chi Ro—and give the Commie his due. But American intelligence wants the colonel alive, making this the Black Eagles toughest assignment ever...

NIGHTMARE IN LAOS
There’s a hot rumor that Russian in Laos are secretly building a nuclear reactor. And the American command isn’t overreacting when they order it knocked out—quietly—and fast...

PUNGI PATROL
A team of specially trained East German agents—disguised as U.S. soldiers—is slaughtering helpless Vietnamese villagers to discredit America. The Black Eagles, the elite jungle fighters, have been ordered to stop the butchers before our own allies turn against us...

SAIGON SLAUGHTER
After being decimated by the NVA, Major Robert Falconi's killer crew, the Black Eagles, fight a private war against the enemy agents and assassins who still stalk them...

AK-47 FIREFIGHT
Robert Falconi and his Black Eagle fighters have been chosen to stop the deadly flow of mortars, AK-47s, grenades, and thousands of tons of ammunition to the NVA along South Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh Trail. However, the Black Eagles find the North Vietnamese convoys so heavily guarded it seems a suicide mission. But the men believe their leader Falconi, and if he says they can do it, by God they’ll do it...

BEYOND THE DMZ
For the first time, the Black Eagles are ordered to strike deep into the heart of North Vietnam. It’s a suicide mission, but aided by a full complement of fearless Ping-Yan-Uen tribesmen the blood and the body count is sure to flow...

BOOCOO DEATH
When the only female member of the Black Eagles is captured by the North Vietnamese, Falconi and his squad of battle harden jungle fighters chase to rescue her. Finding themselves in an ingenious trap, they put their M-16s on rock-n-roll and come out blasting...

BAD SCENE AT BONG SON
Accompanied by an irritating embedded reporter, the Black Eagles don’t expect trouble in the Vietnamese’s low-lands. But when all hell breaks loose during a lashing wind and rainstorm, it’s come home as heroes, or not come home at all...

CAMBODIA KILL-ZONE
Major Robert Falconi's battle-hardened crew of jungle fighters are America's most effective killing machine in Southeast Asia. And when the big brass in Saigon uncover a secret Red plot to reinforce Cong units with combat teams
from Iron Curtain countries around the globe, the Black Eagles are ordered to the Cambodian border to neutralize the situation quietly - and fast! But Algerian Colonel Omar Ahmed is a dedicated Communist who's ready to take on anything the free world can throw at him. And deep in the Cambodian jungle, on a battlefield splattered with hot shrapnel and blood, it's the Black Eagles against a band of fanatical Arabs in a duel to the death fought behind a news blackout imposed by both sides - and that means no medals but plenty of body bags for the men of The Black Eagles.

DUEL ON THE SONG CAI
When North Vietnamese patrol boats take control of the Song Cai River, it’s up to the Black Eagles to wade in over their heads and follow their unit motto: Calcitra Cllunis—Kick Ass...

LORD OF LAOS
‘Nam down and dirty—the way our men had to fight it...

ENCORE AT DIEN BIEN PHU
‘Nam down and dirty—the way our men had to fight it...

FIRESTORM AT DONG NAM
Lt. Colonel Gregori Kraschenko, a monster of a man and leader of the newly-organized Red Berets, the cream of the Iron Curtain’s elite forces. With a burning drive to destroy the Black Eagles and their leader, Major Robert Falconi, Kraschenko issues a deadly challenge—a neutral zone battle to the death between the Red Berets and the hardened jungle fighters of the Black Eagles—no backup, no heavy weaponry, just whatever they can carry in on their backs. If the Black Eagles refuse, the consequences to America’s intelligence apparatus will be devastating. There is only one choice destroy the Red Berets or die trying...

HO'S HELLHOUNDS
‘Nam down and dirty—the way our men had to fight it...

MONSOON HELLHOLE
‘Nam down and dirty—the way our men had to fight it...

MAU LEN DEATH ZONE
A top NVA general wants to defect, and the Black Eagles will face the steaming jungle’s merciless dangers to get him out...

DURONG WARRIORS
Green hell in the highlands. Outnumbered and out gunned, the Black Eagles are determined to smash their way through the jungle to destroy the enemy’s Death Squad command...

HOA TIEN KILLERS
‘Nam down and dirty—the way our men had to fight it...

BO-BINK COMMANDOS
‘Nam down and dirty—the way our men had to fight it...

NGUY-HIEM WAR ZONE
‘Nam down and dirty—the way our men had to fight it...

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