Welcome to the Strange & Unusual Book Club where we bring you Weird Things We Found in the Wild and then compare them to books you can find on the shelves today. Today’s weirdness came from Half Price Books.
Before we get started, let’s answer some mail from our readers.
(Letter withheld to maintain the confidentiality of the sender.)
So, you think you might be a demi-god? Ok. That’s a new one. The most likely explanation here is that you fell asleep watching Season 2 of American Gods or The Boys on Amazon, but let’s run with it. Say you are indeed a demi-god. What now? Let’s start with Joseph Campbell’s The hero with a thousand faces for a broad overview of what it means to be a hero. The “hero’s journey” is intended to be largely symbolic, but it’s also going to be the closest thing you’ll find to a guidebook, short of reading graphic novels. Or watch Thor: Ragnarok because, even if it doesn’t inspire you to be a hero, it’s several kinds of awesome. If you’re undecided as to the source of your divinity, I’d suggest Bulfinch’s mythology: stories of gods and heroes by Thomas Bulfinch or Mythology by Edith Hamilton. Both heavily focus on the Greek/Roman pantheon but odds are good, from a historical perspective, that, if you are a demi-god, Zeus is your father. Should this be the case, because, for example, your mom claims that your dad was a goose, try The Odyssey by Homer. Spoiler: it doesn’t end well for Odysseus. If those are a bit too highbrow for your reading preferences, take a look at almost anything Rick Riordan has written for children. Yes, you could watch The Lightning Thief movie instead, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to read all… seven (?) series Riordan has written on the subject of semi-divine mortals interacting with the normal world while dealing with issues caused almost entirely by their parents.” Good luck!
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Today’s book is entitled Perry Rhodan 19: Mutants VS. Mutants by Clark Darlton.
Let’s start with the front cover. I don’t see any obvious signs of mutants battling other mutants, but the ruins in the background definitely give off a post-war/post-apocalyptic feel. The metallic sphere in the lower left suggests that the story is taking place in the future because the future in science fiction novels is littered with weird orbs of dubious function. The two figures on the cover don’t have any obvious mutations (extra limbs, glowing eyes, tails, etc.), but their clothing reminds me of the uniforms worn by mutants in the early issues of The Uncanny X-men by Marvel Comics. When you’re faced with imminent peril and/or extinction, onesie/short pants combos are evidently the way to go.
The back cover doesn’t feature any additional artwork, but it does go a little further to explain the plot. “The Mutant Master Monterny has been defeated- for the time being. But as long as he lives there is the potential for sudden danger.” I’m definitely getting X-men vibes now.
What I’m expecting from this novel
In addition to Perry Rhodan’s Mutant Corps, I can expect to read about a “beautiful telepath” named “Tatjana”and a mischievous mouse-beaver” named “Pucky.” In space! You had me at “mouse-beaver.” Let’s do this!
Some time later
When you jump straight into book 19 of a series, it’s easy to run the risk of having no idea what happened previously. Fortunately, Mutants VS. Mutants took that into account. (On page 25.) Humanity lands on the moon using atomic powered rockets and discovers a friendly alien race who then endows the leader of the expedition with immortality and the technology to take over the world for its own good. Who hasn’t heard that story before? It’s as common a trope as a boy meets a girl and a girl eats a boy. But wait… there’s more! Mutants.
The more I read of Mutants VS. Mutants, the more I knew I was correct about a connection to X-Men comics. Especially when I got to the part that explained the uncanny origins of mutant kind. A good chunk of my formative years were spent reading comic books. I can easily say that (before any recons, reboots, and rewrites that might have happened after I stopped collecting them), the origin of mutants in the Marvel universe was radioactivity in the atmosphere caused by atomic bomb testing and proximity to nuclear reactors. (I think the sun itself might have also been blamed at some point?) Keeping that in mind, I was surprised to see that very thing in a book written in 1930, 36 years before the The X-Men #1 was published. This is not to say that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby stole the concept for the X-men from Mutants Vs. Mutants, but it’s easy to see a connection between them, and I’m not the only person to think so.
What can you expect from Mutants VS. Mutants? Space battles. Racist terminology that isn’t as bad as it could have been given when this was written. Hypnosis tag. And what is obviously an early super-villain monologue.
If you think you might like books with superpowered characters, similar to Perry Rhodan 19: Mutants VS. Mutants by Clark Darlton, check out:
The X-men by various
Slan Hunter by Van Vogt, A. E.
Suspicious Minds by Bond, Gwenda
The Institute by King, Stephen
Hench : A Novel by Walschots, Natalie Zina
Steelheart by Sanderson, Brandon
Ex-Heroes : A Novel by Clines, Pete
Other book reviews by the Strange and Unusual Book Club
Kevin Wadlow is 100% a real human being and definitely not a murder of crows wearing a person suit. He is an avid reader of horror, tabletop gamer, and drinker of coffee who enjoys drawing things of strangeness along the way. When the zombie apocalypse comes, he will probably be eaten first after saying something about how he fully expected to go out like this.
This Perry Rhodan book was written in 1961, not 1930