Insanity as a weapon!
The Spider #33: Legions of Madness by Norvell Page writing as Grant Stockbridge
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.
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. In fact, the Spider’s secret identity is pulpdom’s worst kept secret. Almost every issue has the bad guys using Nita against the Spider, well aware that Wentworth and the Spider is the same person.
Proving it is another thing altogether…
Legions of Madness was originally published in the Spider Magazine, June 1936
Richard Wentworth and Nita are preparing to sail for Europe on a short vacation. However. Prior to sailing, a sinister Frenchman named Jules
LeFevre appears in Wentworth’s rooms demanding that he does, indeed sail! He even brings him a paid ticket on the Normandie, the very ship Wentworth intends to board!
A scuffle ensues and LeFevre retreats. Nita arrives and Wentworth and Nita go out for the evening. When they return Ram Singh, Jackson, and old Jenkyns have all been beaten severely and nailed to the wall! Far from spurring Wentworth to take his free ticket and sail away, the Spider is determined to bring LeFevre to justice.
The Frenchman appears to be behind Insanity, Inc. They demand $100,000 from businessmen. If the money is not paid, a member of their families will be given a drug that drives them insane. They become murderous, striking out at anyone close with brutal efficiency.
I have two things against this story.
1) It is stated that there is a factory owner back of LeFevre who wants his competition destroyed. The Spider is said to recognize the voice. We are never given the details directly or even indirectly as far as I can tell with multiple re-reads.
2) It is not as good as The Mad Horde, The Spider #8, which also dealt with using insanity (in the form of hydrophobia) as a weapon. Thus it is a rehash that did not resell.
I will give it three stars.
Quoth the Raven…