Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Destroyer #32 - Killer Chromosomes

Sheila stood up tall, a growl rumbling deep in her throat. She saw Remo and smiled, a broad predator's smile, that expressed neither happiness nor joy, merely satisfaction over finding the next meal so neatly served. 

Pinnacle Books, March 1978
I've read a handful of Destroyer books by Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy and I think they're fine as entertainment. But none have really stuck with me, and I'm not a huge fan of the goofy banter that goes on between Chiun and Remo for much of the adventures. But I did like this one a lot, from the goofy cover to the pulpy creature-feature story inside. Killer Chromosomes reminded me of The Wasp Woman (1959) in many ways. Completely different story, of course, but mainly for its spirit. I haven't seen The Wasp Woman in a couple of decades, so it could just be an onset of senility dredging up its memory while reading Killer Chromosomes.

The novel begins at a press conference of sorts, as Dr. Sheila Feinberg attempts to explain research she's doing involving human genetics and chromosomes. Her goal is to improve the human condition somehow. Her audience is none too pleased with her work, fearing that messing around with human genetics is the surest way to bad things like "plagues and monsters" and other scary stuff. In this case, their fears are sort of realized, as in frustration Dr. Feinberg consumes a couple of test-tubes of the stuff she's been tinkering with in her laboratory. Yup, bad things then happen as our lady mad scientist turns into a "she-tiger" like creature who feeds on human flesh! She also changes appearance into a smoking hot babe in the process. The result of her feeding is that victims remaining alive afterward themselves turn into hybrid creatures who will feed in turn. So, yes, in no time flat our fat and dopey citizens will turn into hordes of flesh-eating tiger-men (and tiger-women) running rampant. Call on Remo Williams to put a stop to it all, somehow.

Remo approaches the mission with the typical sardonic wit and nonchalance that we're used to from him. Only he's never come up against anyone quite like Dr. Sheila Feinberg. Nor has she ever met anyone near like Remo Williams. And when they meet for the first, believe me, fur flies! Remo barely manages to survive, as Sheila Feinberg escapes, licking her own wounds and harboring a burning desire to mate with our hero and have his litter.

As Remo convalesces in hiding he begins to revert back to the dullard, slack ways of your average out-of-shape lummox that Chiun despises. The art of Sinanju seems to evaporate from his control, causing Chiun to consider pulling Remo out of the game entirely. Meanwhile, Dr. Sheila Feinberg is in heat and stalking her pray, and will stop at nothing to get him.

Yeah, it's all pretty goofy, but I liked it. I liked it enough that I'll give more novels in the Destroyer series a go. After all, they were and still are hugely popular among a legion of fans. They're even available in e-format for newer readers who missed out finding the original books in the newstands.

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