Title: Mutants Amok (Volume 1 of 5)
Tagline: “They were Created to serve, now they’re dedicated to destruction!”
Author: Mark Grant (David Bischoff)
Published: March 1st, 1991, AVON)
Plot:“They had been bred as the perfect killing machines. Mutant warriors–vicious. Fearless…and unstoppable. Genetically designed soldiers created to triumph on the battlefields of the 21st century. But something has gone wrong…horribly wrong. The mutant servants have revolted. The earth has caught fire–and the flames are fed by the blood of the one-time masters. Now a small band of human rebels is the last hope of the besieged planet. Courageous guerrilla fighters, they must prevent the unthinkable, the ultimate nightmare: the total annihilation of humankind!”
In a dystopian future reminiscent of Terminator / Planet of the apes-esque, humans live enslaved by genetically engineered mutant humanoids who wield totalitarian control. However, not all humans dwell on mutant governed complexes. Out there stalks a renegade band of freedom fighters striving to recapture the halcyon age where humans were free to build, free to read, free to choose, free to live.
Immediately, readers are treated to a frenzied salvo of militant carnage. Max Turkel, legendary among human hopefuls, leads an attack on a mutant owned airplane hangar. Bullets rip through bodies, skulls splatter open, guts paint the runway as the war is heated. After blowing up the airport, Max escapes in a wounded plane.
We’re enticed to believe this gung-ho fray and intense violence will traverse the book cover-to-cover. Sadly, the action settles down dramatically as Max’s plane, having ate too many bullets, crashes into a rural part of Iowa. The location isn’t too far from a mutant owned farming complex. Humans till the fields and only know of the outside conflicts as fantastical fables.
The year is around 2017, a few decades removed from the massive mutant upheaval. Governments had agreed nuclear warfare would be mutually catastrophic, same way chemical warfare was outlawed after the repugnance of WW1. Thus the race to design alternate weapons channeled militaries into creative avenues. South African Biochemists designed humanoids bred of human germ plasm for infantry battle. After massacring the black race of their country, they began selling these servile soldiers to third world countries. Eventually traitors sold secrets to the mega governments–Russia, USA, China.
Each mutant has a specialty design, or a singular function as its purpose. For example, there are mutant pilots, doctors, generals, weapons specialists, commanders, etc. All them have varying levels of intelligence.
Like the machines in the Terminator franchise, these artificial warriors eventually turn on them, murdering and enslaving mankind. Now with the politics of the world introduced, one would hope for an advancement in action. Unfortunately, our hero Max Turkel remains injured for the duration of the book, being nursed back to health by a human slave, Jack, who discovers him in the outskirts of the ranch. Jack takes Max to a nearby treehouse. For the bulk of the book, Max spouts off vulgarities and raunchy jokes targeted at the naive Jack. The hottest topics being bandied are sex and the human revolt against the humans. Nah, but mostly just sex as Jack is a sexually frustrated young man living in a world where the mutants only breed humans out of necessity.
The tone of this book feels like a cheesy Troma film gone outlandishly Mad max. And with the setting being isolated in a tree house for a heavy portion, you’d think this had the hindrances of a low-budget b-flick. The buffoonery of the ruthless mutants has its spates of entertainment. Braingeneral Torx–the novel’s arch villain, a gelatinous hulk of modified matter–mostly fulminates about the vain dragnet to catch Max Turkel after blowing up the airplane hangar. There’s a brilliant random scene of him challenging a captive to a gladiatorial clash in which he hacks with a chainsaw.
After a string of odd and uncomfortable sexual exploits, Max convinces Jack to join the coup to invade the mutant compound. Really Jack joins to save Jenny, his girlfriend who the mutants perform a fatal experiment on. The action picks up in the novel’s culmination. It’s well written with a strength in creative metaphors intertwined.
Overall, with a vivid world and the bizarre politics established, the novel missed out on an expansion in the storyline. As this is only the first of five in the series, it’s possible this series focused solely on characters just as a set-up for the rest of the series. At a measly 208 pages, the thin length results in a limited arc.