A sinister oriental mastermind matches wit with a G-Man and an investigative reporter!
The Mysterious Wu Fang The Case of the Yellow Mask by Robert J Hogan
The Mysterious Wu Fang initially launched in September 1935. This title was the third of the magazine run. The series saw Robert J. Hogan, creator of flying ace G-8 and other air ace series for Popular Publications, dive into the world of Oriental intrigue.
Addressing the elephant in the room, it is hard not to compare this villain with Doctor Fu Manchu, Sax Rohmer's masterful Lord of Death. The two Chinamen are virtually identical. Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard take the roles held by Dennis Nayland Smith and Doctor Petrie.
There is a beautiful woman, Mohara, who, like Romar's own Kâramanèh, sympathizes with Jerry and helps all she can without completely deserting Wu Fang. Newsboy Cappy is the one truly unique character and helps elevate the story beyond a mirror image of Fu Manchu. He is in the thick of things, selflessly aiding the investigators.
That isn't to say that Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard are not characters that stand on their own, nor are they simply clones of Smith and Petrie. The addition of Cappy adds an element of child endangerment that makes Wu Fang all the more wicked. Mohara is more than a clone of Kâramanèh, possibly not as brainwashed as the later. Only Wu Fang appears too much like the character that obviously inspired him.
In this story, Wu Fang is after the golden mask of Unga, said to be so powerful that the wearer can control the masses with the power of his mind! Kildare, Hazard, and the ever-present Cappy are determined that Wu Fang will never see the mask.
The investigators are captured several times and are in danger of the little death dealers of Wu Fang. They also face a paralyzing drug, and even becoming a sacrifice to Chaing Li, the God of lost souls!
Even with the apparent mirroring of the Fu Manchu stories, I liked this one a lot!
I give it five stars!
Quoth the Raven…