Jan. 14, 2017

The Bronze Man and the Master of Darkness face Shiwan Khan!

Doc Savage Empire of Doom by Kenneth Robeson

Four times the Shadow has battled the Golden Master, Shiwan Khan. During their final battle, recorded in the Shadow Magazine: Masters of Death (May 1940); it seemed that the oriental mystic had perished. Evil still breathed…

Shiwan Khan raises a gang of misfits which he uses to gain possession of decommissioned US Destroyer Bransfield’s. The ship is in the Brooklyn Naval Yard being completely refitted to be transferred to British Command during WWII. After stealing the ship, Shiwan Khan takes it up the Hudson River.

There he fires upon the Hotel Blackwell in Times Square. Afterwards he discharges lightning at the hotel. The hotel is the residence of a certain man Khan believes to be the greatest foe he has ever faced—The Shadow! And it might be true for the Shadow’s Sanctum is discovered in the basement and robbed by Khan’s forces.

Much like Doc Savage had discovered when facing John Sunlight, taking super-weapons created by defeated foes and storing them is not the best idea. Shiwan Khan gains control of a vast array of weapons the Shadow has confiscated through the years. Before leaving New York, Shiwan Khan makes one final move—he fires lightning at the skyscraper headquarters of Doc Savage!

Frankly, Doc Savage or the Shadow makes for exciting reading on their own. Combining them in a common cause is sheer genius! I was thrilled to recognize the plethora of gadgets from the different Shadow novels as they were used one after the other! I also thought it sublime that the Shadow remains the Shadow—he isn’t going to take orders, not even from Doc Savage! He also isn’t going to definitively reveal his actual identity. Just when everyone thinks they have the Shadow figured out, poof!

The action is fast and furious. Doc Savage is forced to confront things the scientist in him says are impossible. He is faced with telepathy, mind control, mental constructs that seem very real and a man vanishing, cloaked in the effects he uses to cloud men’s minds.

It is a full-fledged adventure that should be a delight to fans of both Pulp Heroes. Winding from New York to a cavern under the mountains in China Khan calls Xanadu, our heroes are close to death on many occasions. Surprises occur all along the way, even to the very end.

I give the book five stars plus! Bravo, Will!

Quoth the Raven…

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