Pendleton was often asked about Mack Bolan’s Warwagon by his
readers or interviewers, and I have received questions about it, also.
Often those questions have
been from those who know of The Punisher Comics and the somewhat similar
story line that The Punisher took in the late seventies and beyond.
Of course, Don created his
Mack Bolan character and his “signature
pieces” in his Executioner novels long before The
his way into Comics in 1974 with the debut of the character in a Spiderman
Marvel Comic. In the Marvel Preview # 2, 1975, introducing The Punisher,
was also a long and exclusive interview with Don Pendleton by David Anthony
Kraft, titled, “The Executioner Speaks Out!” This interview
was about Don’s writing career and life as a writer. It had nothing
to do with The Punisher and there was no mention of the new comic character
in the interview.
In 1993, Don Pendleton was interviewed by Advance
Comics, James Eisele
and the interview was published in their July 1993 issue.
Pendleton had this to say
about The Punisher: “Let’s just
say The Punisher has taken a lot of liberties with my work. Anyone who
knows the history of The Executioner has known that all along. I elected
many years ago to just let it pass, feeling that there is room for both
of us in this industry. Of course, new Executioner readers may get the
impression that I have “borrowed” from The Punisher, but
let me set the record straight: War Against the Mafia debuted in 1968,
and has been a flagship of action/adventure in all mediums throughout
these years. Sad to say, my own publisher at Pinnacle began the trend,
firing off invitations to various writers with copies of my books and
stating that he would be interested in considering similar stories for
his publication. The way this business works, practically every other
major publisher jumped on the bandwagon. Of course, I have no bitterness
or sense of loss from any of that; it is the highest form of complement
for a writer to become a standard-bearer, and certainly The Executioner has remained in that special place all these years, and worldwide.”
James Eisele had asked, “They weren’t
taking stories that you had written?”
Pendleton continued, “No, not exactly chapter and verse, but The
Punisher took alot of what I consider “signature pieces” including
Bolan’s War Journal, the War Wagon, and various situations which
The Punisher incorporated. I created the high tech War Wagon in 1973,
after using a much simpler version in previous books. The new War Wagon was built around a gutted GMC motor home put together by Bolan with the
help of engineers who were sympathetic to his cause. It was a fantastic
vehicle with high tech weapons on board.”
For those you have not read
all of Don’s early Executioner’s,
Mack Bolan’s War Journal came into play in the opening of the book
of the series in 1968 and was used throughout the books. Don Pendleton
introduced the high tech version of the Warwagon in Executioner # 20,
New Orleans Knockout (written in 1973, published 1974) and writes about
it in detail in The Executioner’s War Book, published in 1977.
The basic vehicle is a 26-foot GMC motor home with a slightly modified
455 cubic inch Toronado power plant; front traction, automatic transmission;
tandem rear wheels with airbag suspension; complete with galley,
bunk space, toilet and shower; self-contained electric generator
the usual power requirements for the combat systems.
As modified by friendly aerospace
engineers, working to Bolan’s
concept, the vehicle is a $100,000-plus marvel of space-age technology–providing
the warrior with a battle cruiser which is also a mobile base camp, command
post, field headquarters, armory, spy ship, home. The spacemen dubbed
it a “terran module.”
Wraparound glass windows have
been replaced by a system of replaceable panels with strategically
positioned one-way-vision portholes. The war
room features a foldaway light-table for combat plots, a central command
console whose computerized functions may be remoted to the control deck
forward (driver’s seat). The aft section contains a weapons lab
and armory with concealed storage for munitions and weapons.
Heart of the electronic intelligence-gathering gear involves computerized
selection and switching circuits to control radio pickups, sensitive
audio and optic scanners functioning within the telemetry systems which
feed into the console for synchronizing, time-phasing, sorting, editing,
re-recording and micro-storage of collected intelligence data.
Navigations systems utilize
a “shared-time” concept with
other electronics, allowing complete instrument control in zero-visibility
situations. The heavy-punch capability is embodied within a swivel-platform
retractable rocket pad concealed below the roof. This system is operated
from the command deck, features highly sophisticated fire control gear
with night-bright optics as well as laser-supplemented infra-red illuminators,
with automatic target acquisitions via video or audio sensors.
Upon command, the launch platform
rises through roof panels to lock into firing positions. Control may
be remoted for “Extra Vehicular
Activity” (EVA). Also, targets may be pre-selected for auto-fire
via time or video controls. This system delivers massive destruction
at impressive range and with pinpoint accuracy, whether the target be
stationary or moving.
The Executioner’s War Book, pages 112-115. Copyright © 1977
by Don Pendleton. All Rights Reserved. Published by Pinnacle Books,
Don Pendleton introduced the later version of his Warwagon, Mack Bolan’s
high tech version, in The Executioner # 20, New Orleans Knockout, published
1974. Here is an excerpt from the novel:
CHAPTER 9: INSTRUMENT RANGE
Bolan’s warwagon for the New Orleans operation was something new
and special–a uniquely outfitted and beautifully integrated GMC
motor home, a sleek low-profile 26-footer designed with the sportsman
in mind. Bolan was no sportsman; for this warrior, the fabulous new vehicle
represented a comfortably appointed mobile command post, a field headquarters,
an armory, and electronics surveillance unit, all in one–it was
Most of the cost–about $100,000 of easy-come, easy-go Mafia-donated
warchest funds–had been spent for special equipment and installation.
The electronics were courtesy of the space program and incorporated
the most sophisticated developments of space-age science. A moonlighting
NASA engineer provided the labor and materials for the basic radio gear.
A technical genius from a local electronics firm did the rest, even to
designing, building, and installing the computerlike selection an switching
gear; highly sensitive directional audio pickup equipment; concealed
or disguised antennae; optic marvels; a console for synchronizing, storing;
sorting, editing; time-phasing, and even re-recording collected intelligence.
He even had a mobile telephone and a simple radar unit.
The NASA engineer admiringly
dubbed the completed project a “terran
module” comparing it favorably with the best thing yet developed
in lunar modules.
Bolan liked it, though he
was a bit awed by the electronic capabilities of his new war wagon.
It would have blown Gadgets Schwarz’s electronic
mind. What it all meant for Mack Bolan, in gross, was a wider range for
his war effort. The gear in that van, of course, was entirely dependant
on the military capabilities of the man it supported. He could “scan
through” a neighborhood with the audio pickups operating and perhaps
learn a thing or two about the enemy. He could probe for vehicles and
unusual concealed masses of metal with the radar device. He could cruise
within line-of-sight of planted radio bugs and trigger a quick-pulse
collection without even stopping the vehicle–then unscramble, time-pulse,
and play back the recording without leaving the driver’s seat.
But all these capabilities merely widened the scope for the warrior.
They did not fight the battles.
Other special installations in the new warwagon provided the direct
military support. There was a foldaway light-table for mapping and plotting
battle lines, assault and withdrawal routes, and other tactical considerations.
He had a fully equipped weapons lab and armory with concealed storage
for munitions, explosives, tactical gadgets. In that lab he could build,
modify, or repair all types of personal weapons as well as explosive
Large picture windows along the sides were made of one-way glass, thus
affording Bolan plenty of visibility, while effectively shielding the
interior from curious eyes.
Stock features on the vehicle
include a 455-cubic-inch Toronado engine. Slightly modified. Front
traction with automatic transmission freed the
rear tandem wheels from axles and conventional suspension–there
were air bags instead of springs, adjustable from dashboard controls
to raise or lower each side separately and compensate for uneven ground
conditions. For animal comforts there was a galley, shower and toilet,
and bunk space in the rear.
she was a warwagon in every sense and a long-needed complement to Bolan’s
war effort. Hopefully she would deserve the man through many campaigns,
but the sleek module would have been well
worth the money if she carried him through just this one.
Bolan was thinking, in fact,
that she was worth it for the present task alone. He was parked at
the lakeshore within view of the Lanza place–door
open, a dummy fishing pole that was actually a mobile radio antenna clipped
casually to the front bumper, Bolan himself seated in the comfortably
padded high-backed console-type driver’s seat and eyeing a reflecting
plate installed at his right knee, part of the long-range optics capability.
One can only wonder what Don
Pendleton would have done with a warwagon if he had created it with
today’s high technology of the 21st century
instead of thirty-one years ago when some of the technology was just
evolving. I’m sure that it would have been an awesome war vehicle
for Mack Bolan to fight his Mafia war, much the same as Bolan’s “terran
module” was for that time period.
I’ve included illustrations of Bolan’s
high tech war wagon from the 1977 The Executioner’s War Book, which has become a collector’s
Many thanks to Mike Cagle of Indiana for the beautiful art rendering
of Mack Bolan. In 1975,
Don Pendleton commissioned the then young talented artist, Cagle to
drawings of Mack Bolan for him. The drawing on
this page of Mack Bolan is protected under Copyright ownership and
may not be copied or used in any way.
Warwagon Chapter and Warwagon Illustrations from The
War Book, Copyright ©1977 by Don Pendleton. Published by Pinnacle
Books, New York.
Copyright © 2004
by Linda Pendleton, all rights reserved.