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O'Leary, Terence X. Terence X. O'Leary was created by Arthur Empey and appeared in forty-seven stories in War Stories, War Birds, and Terence X. O’Leary’s War Birds from 1926 to 1936, beginning with "Under Three Flags" (War Stories, Dec. 1926).
Terence X. O'Leary’s character evolves over time. He begins as an Irish stereotype, the red-headed drunken liar and braggart, all fist and no brain, hating the English and everything that stereotype says he should hate. This O'Leary is active during World War One but is a blunderer, succeeding in the infantry more through luck than anything else. Later O'Leary shapes up and becomes a very competent and fearless action hero. He moves to the "Rainbow Division," in which he sees some action, gets recommended for the D.S.C., and becomes famous.
Then he becomes a sergeant of the Military Police, having had several enlistments in the cavalry. (Empey altered O’Leary’s past and present according to the exigencies of plot). He is suddenly an expert with guns, cited for the Medal of Honor and fluent in German, "having been adopted by a German couple in his youth." O'Leary repeatedly tries to leave the Military Police by getting into action, which he sees quite a lot of, on the front lines and behind enemy lines, even into Switzerland. He discovers that he has a double: a German spy, only without the red hair. O’Leary and the Secret Service make use of this to help plant O'Leary at German High Command. He also turns a group of military convicts into a tough fighting unit and helps tanks crush German pillboxes, among the usual World War One exploits. Much later he trains Ethiopians to fight against the Italians. His devoted, adoring troops called him “the Green Lion of Judah,” and he has good success against Mussolini’s troops.
A later series reveals that O'Leary has not only served four terms of service in the U.S. Cavalry but also in the French Foreign Legion and in the Escadrille Lafayette. He is suddenly an ace pilot, in command of the 411th (or 417th) Squadron, the "Black Wings Pursuit" Squadron. The men in the Squadron are outlaws, destined to life sentences unless they fight hard. Captain Wilkey is nominally in charge of the group, but its real leader is O'Leary, who is ably assisted by Mike Rafferty, O’Leary’s best friend. In these stories O'Leary, his plane Lulu Belle, and his men are opposed by several notable villains, including Baron von Stilzer, “the Green Falcon,” the leader of the Green Circus pilots and a Prussian stereotype; Baron Heinrich von Stilzer, “the Black Eagle,” the brother of the first Baron von Stilzer and twice as bad as the original, as are his men, the pilots of the Black Circus; Count Joseph von Krassner, “the Black Roc,” another vicious Prussian, and a Mad Scientist--he is "Germany's most noted war scientist...responsible for poison gas, liquid fire, and the rest of the hellish inventions." (One of von Krassner’s inventions, an airplane full of explosives (an early version of a V1 rocket), kills most of the Black Wings Pursuit Squadron). After various adventures O’Leary encounters Baron Kofrank von Stoeffen, the London-based head of German espionage. Von Stoeffen uses the Scarlet Death, a lethal poison, to kill Captain Wilkey.
Then the series jumps ahead sixteen years, to 1935. Captain O'Leary and Captain McGuffy are now pilots in the United States Air Force. Unuk, the High Priest of the God of the Depths, is a 500-year-old immortal, quite insane and living, with his brilliant Under Priest Alok, on the Pacific island of Lataki. There they use "chemical mind control" to dominate a group of captured scientists, all of whom create wonderful and highly advanced SCIENCE! weapons for Unuk. Unuk intends to destroy the U.S.A. and England and to CONQUER THE WORLD! O'Leary is the only one who can effectively oppose him. When he is kidnaped and taken to Latakia, he steals Unuk's massive air ship, flies to the U.S., and shoots down what's left of Unuk's fleet of missiles. Much of the U.S. has been destroyed, but much more is saved. When Unuk's armada of airships, armed with "death rays," tries to attack America, O'Leary shoots them down after a number of ferocious air battles. O'Leary manages to kill Unuk and Alok, but then Umgoop the Horrible, High Priest of the sub-aquatic kingdom of Neptunia, teams up with the High Priestess, Satania, and "reconstructs" Unuk and Alok, unleashing them and all the dread forces of Neptunia on America and Ireland. After one hell of a lot of killing--even O'Leary and McGuffy buy it, but they get reconstructed as well--Umgoop, Satania, Unuk and Alok got down to a flaming death, and with that the O'Leary series ends.
* I'm including the Terence X. O'Leary stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because of the imaginative content within them. That content evolves over time, just like O'Leary's character, going from very little at the start to G-8-like during his Black Wings Pursuit Squadron days to full-blown High Pulp science fiction fantasia in the final phase of the O'Leary stories. It's in that final phase that the true wonderfulness appears and the stories become a cross between G-8's wildest adventures and Operator #5's epics--which is about as awesome a thing as it's possible to be, and nearly as good in the reading as in the imagining.
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