top of page

Q&A on the classic paperback series 'The Destroyer'

Pulp Pulpit

Devin Murphy

When the Destroyer series of men's action paperback books came out in the early 70s', it broke the mold.

The big boy on the block for that particular genre was Mack Bolan -- AKA the Executioner -- a Marine sniper who returns from Vietnam and becomes a vigilante after his family is victimized by mobsters (sound familiar?). The character, who is still being published, spawned a trend that included other characters such as the Death Merchant, the Butcher, the get the general idea.

Warren Murphy and Richard Saphir, both now deceased, introduced Remo Williams -- a Marine who returns from Vietnam and becomes a Newark cop. A top secret crime-fighting organization dubbed CURE and led by ex-CIA agent Harold Smith eventually frames Remo for the murder of a drug dealer, fakes his execution and transports him to an asylum. He undergoes plastic surgery and is trained in the fictitious martial art of Sinanju by Chuin -- an aged Korean from an ancient line of assassins.

Chuin trains Remo to become virtually superhuman, but this doesn't stop him from engaging in humorous banter with his trainer and bickering with his penny-pinching boss when he is not saving the nation from a variety of villains (the bad guys in these books range from drug dealers to ancient gods). The writers also take satirical potshots at a variety of targets -- although the men's action genre traditionally leans rightwards regarding politics, no one and nothing is ultimately spared. There was also a 1985 movie with Fred Ward titled 'Remo Williams: the Adventure Begins' that was based on the series.

We chatted with Devin Murphy, Warren's son and the current caretaker of the series, about the books.

1. What is the current status of the Destroyer series?

Many people were worried when Warren Murphy passed away — what would happen to the Destroyer? The answer is that the Destroyer series is still alive and kicking! Book #151, Bully Pulpit, was published last year (paperback and digital), and I am editing book #152 now — it will be ready soon. It's my great honor and privilege to keep the series going, and I'll continue to do so.

2. The series is notorious for satire that often defies notions of political correctness, although the right wing sometimes takes a humorous drubbing too. What can we expect from future volumes in that regard?

Whether you like him or not, the fact that Donald Trump (who himself was satirized in book #90, "Ghost in the Machine") is POTUS is stranger than fiction. With so many opportunities for satire in the world today — the screeching and unhinged media, the insane dumpling heading North Korea, the unbridled hysteria surrounding all things Russia, and so much more — the hardest part of developing new books is picking what topics to satirize. We're spoiled for choice.

As you mentioned, the humor in the Destroyer series often falls outside the bounds of political correctness. That certainly won't change. Part of what makes satire so effective is that it shines a light on societal absurdities. Since we now seem to live in an age where gender is considered a construct (while also being a spectrum), and where college students are learning about "microaggressions" and being told that using an incorrect pronoun is hate speech, I'm perfectly content for the series to be considered politically incorrect. If anything, that just means we're sane.

3. Will there be any significant changes regarding the current roster of supporting characters?

Remo and Chiun and Smith will be in it forever; there's no way the series could continue without any one of them. Remo's kids — Winston Smith and Freya Williams — made a few appearances in the series. Warren Murphy and Gerald Welch worked together to make a new series called "Legacy," features these kids, but they may make appearances in the Destroyer series and vice versa. Beyond that, I don't want to give away any surprises!

4. There have been a few memorable recurring villains in the series. Will any of them be returning?

You'll definitely see some familiar faces. With that said, the series has to look forward, not backward — and, again, with all the potential for satire in the world today, there are plenty of opportunities for new characters.

5. How many writers are currently working on the series?

R.J. Carter is currently writing the Destroyer series, and Gerald Welch is writing the Legacy series. Jim Mullaney, who wrote many superb volumes in the series, is currently working on a Destroyer movie. The first movie ("Remo Williams: the Adventure Begins") was a near-miss; much of it was good, and stayed fairly close to the series, but the villain was terrible. For an action movie, that's an unforgivable error. But Jim Mullaney understands the series and understands the characters. Most importantly, he understands the need for a strong villain. The new movie is in good hands with him. But with any Hollywood project, there's a lot of waiting, so that's what I'm doing now. As we have more news — new books, old books in the series being released as e-books, movie news, and anything else that's related to the Destroyer — we'll post it on our website, (as well as The Destroyer series has many, many years ahead of it — I'm absolutely thrilled to be able to keep it going.

bottom of page