I’m not sure I can tell you what the appearance of Dr. Banzai on the public scene did for me back when I was twenty years old. A guy with one foot in two worlds at birth grew up to have all his feet, and his friends’ feet, in all the worlds as an adult.
Hitting me at just the right time, assuring me that it was a chaotic and unfeeling world that was the problem, and men like John Whorfin and Hanoi Xan a symptom that could be dealt with with smarts and action and your pals and your pearl-handled revolvers. It didn’t hurt that the whole thing was presented like a modern DOC SAVAGE that had been going on this whole time and we just hadn’t noticed until the Red Lectroids tried to take New Jersey, again.
I read the paperback over and over and over, showing a world I didn’t know was out there with a stilted writing style that echoed Burroughs (Edgar Rice, not William) but spiced with modern mores and intrigue, if you can imagine such a thing.
Anyway, BUCKAROO BANZAI was the thing that hit me at a time when I didn’t know there were people like me and my small circle of misfit, spectacular geniuses that were my friends and revealed that not only we were not alone but easy to imagine getting a call from Pecos or Reno or Pinky Carruthers, or maybe Mrs. Johnson, saying to drop what we were doing because Buckaroo needed help only we could provide. Again.
And then, you know, adulthood and parenting and the Hong Kong Cavaliers are still doing their thing in the multiverse somewhere, and maybe you’d hear they were trying to figure out the rights, and then Kevin Smith circled it and there were some glimmers, but how commercial, really, is a 1930s pulp action piece with a 1980s sensibility going to be in the modern day?
And then the immortal evil of Hanoi Xan shows up, and Reno writes it down and I get a copy of AGAINST THE WORLD CRIME LEAGUE as the prophecy was foretold and damn if it isn’t exactly a 30s pulp with an 80s heart but a 2020s archness that still sounds like what was good in the old days seen through the not-yet jaundiced and bitter eyes society seems to view the present state of affairs.
But not Dr. Banzai. He and his friends don’t have the time for that sort of pointless introspection. I’m along for the ride. And so is Rob Lavender (my college roommate). Because Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers and the Blue Blaze Irregulars, and the Kolodny Brothers, and the Rug Suckers are out there doing their thing. But no strike teams, Tommy. Because we’re out saving the world.