Greetings from The Raven!

Jul. 7, 2019

The Spider #8 The Mad Horde by Norvell Page writing as Grant Stockbridge

Volume eight in this latest Spider series!

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. Proving it is another thing entirely…

The Mad Horde was originally published in May 1934 in The Spider Magazine

Wentworth is in a small city in Ohio. Wentworth seeks a man who purchases 5,000 dogs! A horrible threat has been released in American towns. Hydrophobia! The disease is spread by an army of animals: rabid dogs, cats, mice, rats, and even bats! Anyone infected by this deadly strain becomes a raving madman who only serves to further spread the contagion.

The hidden power behind this plague is rightly termed the Horde Master. Laboratories that produce medicine to fight rabies are blown to bits. What could anyone possibly gain through this madness!

This story is the Spider meets a horror movie. The action is non-stop, and the fear and horror are almost tangible. I did wonder what the Horde Master planned to do to stop the madness after he obtained his goal. After all, each new victim would only produce more victims. It is useless to extort money unless you are going to be able to spend it…

I give the story four stars…

Quoth the Raven…

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Jun. 24, 2019

The Spider #6 The Citadel of Hell 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. Proving it is another thing entirely…

The Citadel of Hell

This story was originally published in the Spider Magazine in March 1934.

Many places are burning to the ground with a heavy loss of life. All locations have one thing in common: they are somehow connected to the food industry. Warehouses, factories, distribution centers, stores—all are fair game for the Food Destroyers! The Red Mask and other like-minded villains are systematically driving up prices—and this is the Great Depression!

Hunted by the police (when is he not?) Wentworth first takes the identity of Tito Caliepi the hunchbacked violinist, and we begin to see the Spider’s trademark look. The pace is frantic and the death toll massive.

I think it one of the better Spider novels. I do wish Page had somehow made the Spider’s secret identity a lot more secret. The whole idea of a secret identity is to conceal who is behind the mask. Hey, Superman came along only four years later and didn’t have this kind of problem when all he did was wear glasses!

I give the book five stars…

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here directly from Altus Press>

 

Jun. 24, 2019

The Spider #10 Corpse Cargo 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. Proving it is another thing entirely…

The Corpse Cargo

Pirates are at work, on land instead of by sea. Entire trains are struck by artificial green chain lightning. No one survives, the lightning strikes several times to make sure. The crooks then board and rob passengers and cargo, blasting the train afterward with a final burst of green flame! The lightning is the invention of Jonas Curley, and the life of his family is threatened.

Their leader is the enigmatic woman calling herself Captain Kidd. She plans well enough to stymie the Spider and capture him! Nina’s life hangs in the balance, also plaguing the Spider.

The story is fast paced, and the villain well developed. The final reveal was handled nicely, with a twist that the reader may not see coming. Altogether a satisfying read!

I give the story five stars…

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here directly from Altus Press>

Jun. 21, 2019

The Spider #2 The Wheel of Death by RTM Scott 

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. Proving it is another thing entirely…

The Wheel of Death

This story was originally published in November 1933 in The Spider Magazine.

Someone is trying to control politicians in New York using a variety of vices. From drugs to prostitution to gambling debts to even murder, the pressure is applied to assure the men have no choice but to obey.

A young woman whose father has been framed for murder and scheduled for the electric chair dares to fight back. And Richard Wentworth has vowed to see her father freed and the true killers caught.

 

Frankly, much of this story tends to drag. Possibly a good bit of the middle could be omitted without much damage to the plot. I also was at a loss for how the title really fitted into the story. It is my opinion that if Scott had continued with the series it, it wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did.

This early story was written before Norvell Page set the standard for writing the Spider novels. There are a number of problems that would later be retconned. For example, the Spider wears a silk mask to cover his face instead of the iconic disguise Page invented. Ram Singh is unable to speak English well, and there is something cringing about his portrayal. One must remember this story is a product of its time. Scott gets the violence ok, but not up to the series level once Page took over.

I give this story only three stars…

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here Directly from Altus Press>

 

Jun. 21, 2019

The Spider #4 City of Flaming Shadows 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. Proving it is another thing entirely…

City of Flaming Shadows

This story was originally published in January 1934 in The Spider Magazine.

The Tarantula is in full battle with the Spider! Cloaked in concealing black, the one identifying mark of this villain is his hands. Long thin fingers covered in thick hair, the hands look as if they are alive independent of the master crook’s body!

The Tarantula strikes by shutting down a city’s electrical grid. While light, bank alarms, telephones and such are down, the Tarantula’s gang cut their way into vaults using a powerful electrical torch. No bank is safe, not even the vaults that belong to the Federal Government!

I originally read this story early on in my discovery of the Spider novels. Only the second one created by the peerless Norvell Page; it could easily be the best of the entire series! It conceals the villain to the very last moment, and the story runs smoothly and at breakneck speed! If you like pulp fiction, you’ll enjoy this one I am sure!

I give this excellent adventure five stars plus! Wow!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here directly from Altus Press>