this essay this morning reminded me how much I loved reading this type of novel back in my impressionable early teens. In fact, I'm certain I read at least one of the Killinger! adventures (of which there were two) (and not to be confused with Nick Carter, Killmaster). There is no forgetting that scene of cat-massage.
Mack Bolan, The Executioner. Remo Williams, The Destroyer. Jason Striker, Master of Martial Arts. The Penetrator. The Enforcer. The Marksman. The Sharpshooter. I inhaled these series like nitrous. I also loved the Doc Savage and Richard Benson, The Avenger, novels, but unlike them, these men who more often went by titles rather than names were quick to judge and quicker to kill. There was something liberating in all that.
Back then these books were so popular you could buy them at any CVS. So how did guys like me end up not gun-loving, murdering, nasty pigs? Maybe we got our ya-yas out vicariously and so on. While we imagined ourselves vigilantes and often felt the same way as Travis Bickle--"Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets" (this was years before I became a part of the scum) (yes, I read the novelization of Taxi Driver which, unlike Brian Garfield's Death Wish, is satisfyingly told in first person)--we were nonetheless distinctly aware of the difference between fantasy and reality. I ended up writing vigilante fiction for a long time, none of which I published, all of which is now lost. But the memory of who I thought I wanted to be tickles who I've become.