Aug. 19, 2018

Not one, not two, but THREE pulp heroes!

The Spider: The Doom Legion by Will Murray

In this new adventure of The Spider, Richard Wentworth is joined by two other long-running pulp heroes.

First is Jimmy Christopher, otherwise known as Operator 5 of the US Intelligence agency. He has a trademark flexible rapier in his belt and a skull ring with a deadly poison. He needs this should he be captured and there is no other way out. The Operator 5 magazine ran for 48 issues between 1934 and 1939.

The second hero joining the Spider is America’s Flying Spy, the mysterious G-8. A pilot, Spy, master of disguise and more; G-8 faced many foes during a magazine run of 100 issues from 1933 to 1944. He was a deadly force during WWI, fighting strange sky-battles against foes like Herr Doktor Kruger of the Kaiser’s war machine.

The Spider magazine ran for 118 issues from 1933 to 1943. The Spider was incredibly violent, preferring to kill his foes and mark their heads with a blood-red spider. He is aided by girlfriend Nita van Slone, gigantic Sikh Ram Singh, and Wentworth's chauffeur Raymond Jackson. Professor Brownlee makes some of the Spider’s equipment, and Harold Jenkyns the butler presides over the Wentworth Mansion.

As Richard Wentworth, the Spider is a close friend of Police Commissioner Stanley Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick is positive that Wentworth is the Spider, officially wanted for many murders. Should he ever be able to prove it, he will send Wentworth to the electric chair.

In this novel, a green-glowing meteorite slams into Central Park on Halloween.  Anyone who gets too close to the space stone falls victim to a horrible fate. They become mindless zombies. Even worse, they have glowing green eyes that emit rays that cause fires wherever they happen to gaze. People are going up like human torches as the radiation zombies fill the streets. The only way to stop the zombies is to kill them. The body count grows and grows.

Two foes of our intrepid three are using the meteorite as a deadly weapon. One is the almost seven-foot-tall German madman known as Stahlmaske, or Steel Mask in English. He is an old foe of G-8 and nothing would please him more than eliminating the flying spy. The other fought the Spider as the Dictator and is equally ready to destroy the Master of Men. Gaining control of the glowing stone is their plan, total mayhem is their game.

Operator 5 still regards the Spider as an outlaw, despite his recent pardon by the President. He makes it very clear that he doesn’t want Wentworth anywhere around the crime scenes either. G-8 is a military asset, allowed to investigate only if supervised by Operator 5. This makes for problems with the three men working together…

I think that part of the charm of this novel is that dissension in the ranks of our heroes. In the end, all three will have to fight to the end of their strength to battle an enemy that can create weapons from anyone…

The novel is action-packed from start to finish. If I had one issue with the story, it would be that having three heroes makes it hard for all of them to really shine. There are a lot of chapters where one or the other of them is temporarily out of action. The remaining two manage to team-up with startling results.

At the end of it all, this story is a true winner! I give it five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…