Friday, February 19, 2016

Death Merchant #65: Mission Deadly Snow

The Cuban Connection

Somewhere under the rich canopy of the Colombian jungle is the nerve center of the world's largest drug operation. And right now twenty thousand kilos of cocaine are being processed for shipment to Havana -- to be used as a weapon of subversion against the U.S.

Determined to put a stop to the plan, the CIA has established a base in Peru. But Richard Camellion isn't satisfied with that. For behind the cocaine, backed by the whole might of the KGB, stands a man whose name is whispered in fear, a shadowy legend. And the chance to seek out and destroy his archenemy El Cobra is more than a challenge. For the Death Merchant it's a sacred mission ...


In late 1985, Pinnacle - which had published the previous 64 Death Merchant books (dating back to 1971) - went out of business. Joseph Rosenberger retained the rights to his character and took his business to Dell, which published #65 (originally titled Operation Snow Job) as Mission Deadly Snow. The cover image of Richard Camellion looks far more like Rambo than the non-buff guy pictured on any of the last 64 books. In addition to making Camellion look more like a typical mid-80s mercenary, Dell also re-wrote (updated) the back-cover introduction to the character:
Volume #65 in the nonstop, high-voltage adventures of Richard Camellion. Totally fearless, a warrior-for-hire at the services of America's most secret security operations, he operates internationally with savage ease. Weapons and martial-arts expert supreme, he executes missions with stone-cold cunning. His enemies can do no right. His friends can do no wrong. A lone master of lethality, destruction, and disguise, he'll go anywhere, stop at nothing to get the dirty work done, to earn the name you know him by: The Death Merchant.
The back cover copy actually does a good job of relating the plot. From a secret US base in Peru, the Death Merchant plans an attack on La Niebla, the Colombian headquarters of the Partners' drug smuggling operation. Fidel Castro (with the backing of the Russians and the KGB) has ordered 20,000 kilos of "snow" from the Partners with the expressed intent of introducing it into the US, thus "wreck[ing] the morals of American society". Camellion's two-part mission: destroy La Niebla and kill "Adrian Mirocco", aka the Cobra, who is arranging the deal for Castro.

After Camellion's initial attempt to get close to the Partners by posing as a drug-buyer fails in the opening chapter, the Death Merchant resorts to more traditional means. While using Nightwalker, a series of interconnected caves in the Sangre Mountains of Peru, as a base of operations, Camellion learns that the Partners are set to receive thousands of pounds of both ether and acetone, products necessary to process Castro's cocaine. They attempt to thwart this delivery off the Pacific coast, but are unsuccessful. Then Camellion and his men have to defend Nightwalker as the powerful Cobra bribes officials high in the Colombia Air Force to fly across the border into Peru and attack the American base. After surviving that attack, the only thing left to do is invade Colombia and destroy La Niebla, where the cocaine is being processed.

Rosenberger is all business in this volume, offering relatively few of his usual political, social, and/or mystical digressions. Also, for the first time in years, he includes no footnotes. (There are a couple of brief scenes of a sexual nature, though neither of them involve the Death Merchant. I wonder if Dell's editors requested their inclusion to spice up the usual asexual DM adventures.)

Rosenberger also spends more time than usual describing the various slugs the men are using in their weapons:
Galen Shuck was also proving that one American is worth far more than two greasers south of the Texas border. In a stance that was a half-crouch, he coolly fired his Star M-30 PK pistols, putting three 9-millimeter hollow points into Eduardo Simón Yglesias as Wayne Augustine, a prematurely bald Alpha Force commando with a Bob Hope ski nose, fired a Smith and Wesson .38 Police Special. He was too busy to be afraid and too angry to even think of death.

The best loads for a .38 Police + S revolver are 95- and 110-grain hollow points. Augustine, however, was using 110-grain .38 Hydra-Shok HP Copperheads in the revolver. In less time than it takes to say ¡Madre de Dios! Augustine had pulled the trigger and had blown away Gilberto Lersundi, the .38 Hydro-Shok projectile going all the way through the Tiger commando's stomach and hitting his spine, breaking his back and cutting the cord.
During the gun battle, Rosenberger actually halts the action completely to provide information on Camellion's Arcane slugs:
It was also all over for Rafael Gonzalez, who had triggered the FAL, and for Tuñón Estrada, who had tried to use the Uru SMG. Both had been hit by Camellion's .357 Arcane projectiles.

A magnum bullet is bad enough. A .357 mag projectile that is also an Arcane bullet is awesome. Arcane comes from the Latin arcanus and means "mysterious." However, there isn't anything mysterious about the deadly Arcane bullet that was invented by the Germans during World War Two. The Nazis produced the Arcane in 9-millimeter to be used in their Schmeisser SMGs, wanting a round that could penetrate the side armor of American half-tracks. Fortunately for the Allies, the war ended before German Arcanes could roll off the production lines.

The Krauts had intended to use solid zinc tips. It is far different with modern Arcane ammo: made of pure copper, each bullet is a full-metal slug that is sharply angled and has a straight slope and a sharp point, all of it resembling a tiny pyramid. Arcane bullets do not have a soft metal outer coating, nor is there any other type of metal in the center of the slug. Lighter than most bullets of the same caliber, an Arcane slug is different from ordinary ammo, different not only because of its shape, but also because it combines the most desirable effects of both hollow point and armor-piercing ammunition.

For these reasons Estrada and Gonzalez looked as if they had been hit in the chest by blasts from a double-barreled shotgun at close range.
And later:
It was these ten [Colombian] mercs who were first spotted by Alpha Force recon scouts, two of whom were killed in a short firefight that followed in the forest that was turned into a free-fire zone, but not for any length of time. Firing Valmet M-76 and SIG PE-57 assault rifles, Bombaro's men peppered the area with 7.62 (X 51 NATO) and 7.5 X 55-millimeter projectiles, the storm of steel-cored slugs effectively pinning down both White and Blue companies, until three 91-millimeter warheads from AT-4 launchers exploded and turned the ten mercs into chunks of bloody flesh that ended up decorating the trees, the kappa grass, and scores of earthstar and lilac puffballs. This area of southern Colombia was similar in flora and fauna to northern Peru.
In the end, the processing plant and the cocaine are destroyed, but the Cobra escapes into the jungle. The series' next volume - The Cobra Chase - will be the second half of this adventure.


Slurs used to describe people in Colombia and Peru: spics, spic-heads, chili-peppers, chili creeps, rice-and-chili eaters, pepper-and-garlic snappers, chili-bean boobs, taco-heads.

"The Death Merchant's HP 9-millimeter slug hit him in the abdomen, bored through his colon and stirred up the steak he had had for dinner."

Vernon Cole, hiking through the verdant Colombian jungle: "Shit, this is like being at the bottom of a bowlful of salad."

"A thin individual with a long face and sad hazel eyes, he made one think of a punch-drunk caboose that had gotten lost and missed the gravy train of life."

Cole: "Fuck the United Nations! The UN is nothing but a group of nigger nations and commie lovers who do nothing but run down the United States. If Washington had the sense of a retarded ape, it would tell all those American haters to get their asses to Moscow. They'd soon learn what communism really is."

"A realist, Cole said exactly what he thought and when he felt like saying it. By normal standards, he was an oddball, a nonconformist who considered the entire human race an obscenity. A complex individual, the only thing he hated worse than a conformist was another nonconformist who didn't conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity."

It turns out that The Cobra shares Cole's (and Camellion's and every other character's!) opinion that the United States has a foolish belief in the equality of the races. "Only the Americans had the naivete of children in regard to the world picture, to the geopolitics of power. They were so obsessed with making the races of the world 'equal' that they were not only destroying their own country but permitting the Soviet Union to strangle them with amazing rapidity. The childish Americans were even supplying the rope!"

"Silvers was as calm as a drugged clam."

"The Death Merchant also spotted the man not far from Bombaro and wondered how the lard-butt had become a mercenary in the first place. The balloon belly had to weigh three hundred pounds—And all of it fat! That blubber gut will die yelling for a waiter! Muttering, "Rest in pizza!" Camellion raised the Desert Eagle and pulled the trigger. Lard-Butt's head exploded, brain and bone, flesh and blood, soaring outward in one complete mess."

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