May. 31, 2019

The first issue that was written by Norvell Page!

The Spider: Wings of the Black Death by Norvell Page writing as Grant Stockbridge

The Spider was created in 1933 by Harry Steeger and published by Popular Publications. Riding the success of Street and Smith’s the Shadow, in many ways the Spider was identical and in other ways unique.

The Spider is Richard Wentworth, a wealthy criminologist. Backed up by his manservant Ram Singh, his old war pal Jackson, and his fiancé Nita van Slone, Wentworth takes on crime at the street level. In his war on crime, the Spider has no scruples about killing. The criminals who cross the Spider die and their foreheads are marked with a scarlet spider. The Spider is wanted by the police, and his friend Commissioner Kirkpatrick suspects Wentworth. Hardly surprising, as everyone seems to know the Spider’s secret. Proving it is another thing entirely…

The violence in the Spider novels is over the top. Sometimes thousands die and many more are wounded. Sometimes minds are destroyed by fiends using strange science experiments. Women are killed and tortured with wicked glee…

Wings of the Black Death was issue #3 of the Spider Magazine, published in December 1933.

People are dying all over New York. A new criminal calling himself The Black Death sends extortion letters to persons whose loved ones are kidnapped. You either pay or the plague will strike! A fast-acting form of the disease that ravaged Europe, the people struck by the plague die within 24 hours.

The Spider is framed for murder and his allies naturalized! The city is now held to ransom for one billion dollars!

The story is exciting, and it is good to see the beginning of Page’s takeover of the character. Other writers sometimes wrote Spider stories, but it was Page who really fleshed the character out. This story marks the beginning of the Spider’s trademark look. The character goes from hiding behind a simple silk mask to constructing a complete second identity. While things like the Spider’s fright wig, the fangs, and the hunched back are still to come, the lipless mouth and beaked nose start here.

I give the book five stars and look forward to many more from this publisher…

Quoth the Raven…

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