The Destroyer (fiction)

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The Destroyer
AuthorWarren Murphy and Richard Sapir
CountryUnited States
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback)<
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The Destroyer
AuthorWarren Murphy and Richard Sapir
CountryUnited States
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback)<

The Destroyer is a paperback series of novels created by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir about a U.S. government operative named Remo Williams. The first novel was published in 1971, although the manuscript was completed on June 25, 1963.[1] Along with Don Pendleton's The Executioner series, The Destroyer is one of the original and longest lasting men's adventure series. It was adapted into the 1985 feature film, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, starring Fred Ward as Williams.[2]



The series was originally co-written by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. Their collaboration took the form of each separately writing a portion of each book. The usual process was for one of them to begin the book and for the other to finish it. In the late 1970s, the relationship between the two men became tense, and Sapir left the series. In the early 1980s, Murphy began using ghostwriters to help with the series, including his wife Molly Cochran. By the mid-1980s, Sapir returned to the series to write some more books.

In the late 1980s, Will Murray took over the sole responsibility of writing the series, after having written several previous books with either Murphy or Sapir. After Sapir died, Murray continued the series until the late 1990s. When Murray left after novel #107, three novels were written by interim ghostwriters (#108 & #110 by Mike Newton; #109 by Alan Philipson). Jim Mullaney took over for novels #111-#131, followed by two more by Newton. Tim Somheil was ghostwriter from #134 through #145.

On July 11, 2006, it was announced that The Destroyer would be moving to Tor Books, part of the St. Martin's publishing group. Along with the change of publisher, Somheil was dropped in favor of Mullaney, who co-wrote the new novels with Warren Murphy. The last novel published by Gold Eagle, Dragon Bones, came out in October 2006. The first Tor novel, The New Destroyer: Guardian Angel, was published in May 2007, accompanied by a re-release of three older novels collected as The Best of the Destroyer. The second novel, Choke Hold, was published October 31, followed by Dead Reckoning in April 2008 and Killer Ratings on July 28 of that year. Due to disagreements between the authors and the publisher, this fourth New Destroyer will remain the last one for the time being.[citation needed]

A few years ago,[when?] Murphy started his own publishing house, Ballybunion, as a vehicle for Destroyer spin-off books. Ballybunion has reprinted The Assassin's Handbook, as well as the original works Assassin's Handbook 2, The Movie That Never Was (a screenplay he and Richard Sapir wrote for a Destroyer movie that was never optioned), The Way of the Assassin (the wisdom of Chiun), and New Blood, a collection of short stories written by fans of the series.

In 2011 the rights to most of The Destroyer novels reverted to Warren Murphy. They are being released in E-book format for the Amazon Kindle.[3] Warren Murphy has stated on his Facebook page that he's writing a new Destroyer story which will also be available for the Kindle.


The series is about Remo Williams, a Newark cop framed for a crime and sentenced to death. His death is faked by the government so he can be trained as an assassin for CURE, a secret organization set up by President Kennedy to defend the country by working outside the bounds of the Constitution. The sitting US President and the head of CURE were initially the only other people that know about the organization, though over the years this circle of people in the know has increased slightly. The head of CURE is Harold Smith, a man selected by the President because of his brilliant mind but more importantly, because of his integrity. Smith was a former law instructor at Yale and served in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.

Remo's trainer is Chiun, a deadly assassin and the last Master of Sinanju. Over the years, Remo and Chiun's relationship has transformed from student-teacher to one more akin to a son and father. It's also been discovered over the years that Remo is the Avatar of Shiva, as prophesied in the legends of Sinanju. In 1985, a companion book entitled Inside Sinanju was published. This was a revised and updated book that was formerly titled The Assassin's Handbook. Most of the book is written in the first person, from Chiun's perspective. It covers anecdotes as well as information on the various villains and story arcs from the series.

Although the series settled down into its formula by around the third book, there are many elements which are not present in the first book, Created, The Destroyer. Many of these have, however, been "retconned" into later stories about the early days of Remo's training. In the first book, the word Sinanju is not used at all to describe the martial arts that Chiun teaches Remo. Zen, karate, aikido and judo are used instead. Remo has many trainers for other aspects of being an undercover operative; he is taught to use different types of firearms, and trained in close-quarters assassination. He smokes tobacco, drinks alcohol, and eats red meat, all activities that would later prove harmful or impossible as his body became changed by the harsh Sinanju training regime. Remo uses a gun to shoot somebody, although it is only to wound, and all his actual kills are hand-to-hand. He does make a conscious choice not to use weapons, after a fight in which he kills a man who had been pointing a gun at him. He realizes that Chiun never carried a gun and is over 70, whereas MacCleary, who had told him to always carry a gun, is dead. The retelling of Remo's origin in the story "The Day Remo Died" in The Assassin's Handbook and in Destroyer #120-121 square his origin more fully with later developments.

Chiun is a minor supporting character who appears only briefly in this book in an early training sequence, and is not referred to again. Much of the humour that comes in the later books from the relationship between Remo and Chiun is correspondingly absent. The book also lacks the 'signature' touch, in that the first line of chapter two does not start with the words: 'His name was Remo'.


Remo and Chiun have encountered a number of colorful villains, both human and superhuman. Their foes have run the gamut of pulp fiction, from mobsters to mad scientists. Given their talents as assassins, few have survived their encounters with Remo and Chiun, but some of their more powerful foes have managed to survive, such as the sinister android Mr. Gordons, former animator cartoonist Uncle Sam Beasley and his animatronic hand, super-soldier Elizu Roote, the computer program known as Friend, renegade Sinanju practitioner Nuihc the Renegade(backwards spelling of the name Chiun), and his protege Jeremiah Purcell, a.k.a. the Dutchman, the death goddess Kali, and a Chinese vampire known as The Master. Some of the more colorful one-shot villains include Dr. Quake, Dr. Lithia Forrester, Ms. Kathy Hahl and Dan Demmet, Colonel Baraka, The Blissful Master, James Orayo Fielding, The Cult of Uctut, the Junior Assassins, Generallissimo Sacrist Corazon, Sparky (a "walking molotov cocktail"), Elmo Wimpler, Chuzhoi Zarnista a.k.a. The World Master, The Krahseevah, Director X (who tried using his daring gene splicing abilities and maniplulation to assassinate Bill Clinton and reenact the assassination of John F Kennedy) and many others.

Other media


In 1985, The Destroyer concept was adapted for the theatrical movie Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, starring Fred Ward as Williams and Joel Grey as Chiun. The film shows the first meeting of Remo and Chuin, and centers on a corrupt weapons manufacturer who is selling guns to the US Army. The film did not follow the source material very closely, much to the disgust of some fans[weasel words] and the authors of the Destroyer series.[citation needed] Several Destroyer books actually make fun of the film and its promotional materials.[citation needed]

New film

In 2009, Dark Horizons suggested that a new Remo movie may be in the works, produced by The Dark Knight producer Charles Roven and Transporter producer Steve Chasman, in association with Columbia Pictures. Charley Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides are writing the screenplay.[4]


In 1988, an American television pilot, Remo Williams, aired but did not lead to a series. It was a follow-up to the movie incorporating footage from the movie in the opening credits and music from the movie throughout. It starred Jeffrey Meek as Williams, Roddy McDowall as Chiun, and Stephen Elliott as Harold W. Smith and is loosely based on the novella "The Day Remo Died".[5] Set one year after the events of the feature film, the pilot episode (titled "The Prophecy") was directed by Christian I. Nyby II and the teleplay written by Steven Hensley and J. Miyoko Hensley. The episode featured guest stars Carmen Argenziano, Judy Landers, and Andy Romano. Music by Craig Safan.

The television pilot had not been seen since 1988 until the Encore cable television channel began airing it in the summer of 2009.

Comic books

There have been several Destroyer comic book and magazine series published by Marvel.[6]

Audio book

The series is being released in audiobook format by GraphicAudio[7]

Series listing

  1. Created, The Destroyer
  2. Death Check
  3. Chinese Puzzle
  4. Mafia Fix
  5. Dr. Quake
  6. Death Therapy
  7. Union Bust
  8. Summit Chase
  9. Murder's Shield
  10. Terror Squad
  11. Kill or CURE
  12. Slave Safari
  13. Acid Rock
  14. Judgment Day
  15. Murder Ward
  16. Oil Slick
  17. Last War Dance
  18. Funny Money
  19. Holy Terror
  20. Assassin's Play-Off
  21. Deadly Seeds
  22. Brain Drain
  23. Child's Play
  24. King's Curse
  25. Sweet Dreams
  26. In Enemy Hands
  27. The Last Temple
  28. Ship of Death
  29. The Final Death
  30. Mugger Blood
  31. The Head Men
  32. Killer Chromosomes
  33. Voodoo Die
  34. Chained Reaction
  35. Last Call
  36. Power Play
  37. Bottom Line
  38. Bay City Blast
  39. Missing Link
  40. Dangerous Games
  41. Firing Line
  42. Timber Line
  43. Midnight Man
  44. Balance of Power
  45. Spoils of War
  46. Next of Kin
  47. Dying Space
  48. Profit Motive
  49. Skin Deep
  50. Killing Time
  51. Shock Value
  52. Fool's Gold
  53. Time Trial
  54. Last Drop
  55. Master's Challenge
  56. Encounter Group
  57. Date With Death
  58. Total Recall
  59. The Arms of Kali
  60. The End of the Game
  61. Lords of the Earth
  62. The Seventh Stone
  63. The Sky Is Falling
  64. The Last Alchemist
  65. Lost Yesterday
  66. Sue Me
  67. Look Into My Eyes
  68. An Old-Fashioned War
  69. Blood Ties
  70. The Eleventh Hour
  71. Return Engagement
  72. Sole Survivor
  73. Line of Succession
  74. Walking Wounded
  75. Rain of Terror
  76. The Final Crusade
  77. Coin of the Realm
  78. Blue Smoke And Mirrors
  79. Shooting Schedule
  80. Death Sentence
  81. Hostile Takeover
  82. Survival Course
  83. Skull Duggery
  84. Ground Zero
  85. Blood Lust
  86. Arabian Nightmare
  87. Mob Psychology
  88. The Ultimate Death
  89. Dark Horse
  90. Ghost in the Machine
  91. Cold Warrior
  92. The Last Dragon
  93. Terminal Transmission
  94. Feeding Frenzy
  95. High Priestess
  96. Infernal Revenue
  97. Identity Crisis
  98. Target of Opportunity
  99. The Color of Fear
  100. Last Rites
  101. Bidding War
  102. Unite and Conquer
  103. Engines Of Destruction
  104. Angry White Mailmen
  105. Scorched Earth
  106. White Water
  107. Feast or Famine
  108. Bamboo Dragon
  109. American Obsession
  110. Never Say Die
  111. Prophet of Doom
  112. Brain Storm
  113. The Empire Dreams
  114. Failing Marks
  115. Misfortune Teller
  116. The Final Reel
  117. Deadly Genes
  118. Killer Watts
  119. Fade To Black
  120. The Last Monarch
  121. A Pound of Prevention
  122. Syndication Rites
  123. Disloyal Opposition
  124. By Eminent Domain
  125. The Wrong Stuff
  126. Air Raid
  127. Market Force
  128. The End of the Beginning
  129. Father To Son
  130. Waste Not, Want Not
  131. Unnatural Selection
  132. Wolf's Bane
  133. Troubled Waters
  134. Bloody Tourists
  135. Political Pressure
  136. Unpopular Science
  137. Industrial Evolution
  138. No Contest
  139. Dream Thing
  140. Dark Ages
  141. Frightening Strikes
  142. Mindblower
  143. Bad Dog
  144. Holy Mother
  145. Dragon Bones

The New Destroyer series

  1. Guardian Angel (May 2007)
  2. Choke Hold (October 2007)
  3. Dead Reckoning (April 2008)
  4. Killer Ratings (July 2008)


Dec., 2007: Guardian Angel, Choke Hold and The Best of the Destroyer make Bookgasm's top ten list of the best crime novels of 2007.

See also


External links