Greetings from The Raven!

May. 4, 2020

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 are the same person.

Proving it is another thing altogether…

This is the second issue in the Living Pharaoh series. Despite believing Tang-akhmut had died at the end of The Coming of the Terror, Wentworth soon is forced to admit the man is back. People are menaced by a horde of ugly dwarfs wielding whips and bolas with many poisoned needles attached. The bolas are thrown, they wrap the victim and death follows swiftly. Others are beaten to death with the whips.

Children are kidnapped to gain control of their parents, either for wealth or power. The Living Pharaoh controls the police. Murders are ignored and the police are mainly used to hunt the Spider!

I didn’t think this one quite as good as the previous issue, but it is still pretty good. Once more the Living Pharaoh has managed a disguise that enables him to pass undetected when he wishes. The final reveal actually came as a surprise.

I give the story four out of five stars…

Quoth the Raven…

May. 4, 2020

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 are the same person.

Proving it is another thing altogether…

Once more The Man from the East has survived an encounter with the Spider. Now as he sets up his temples as the Ibis-headed God Thoth, proclaiming that he can return people from the dead! Now his followers do not mind dying, sure that he will resurrect them. He also has imported worshipers of Khali the Thugees of India, the stranglers!

Not as good as the first two, it does have its moments.

I give this one three stars out of five…

Quoth the Raven…

May. 4, 2020

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 are the same person.

Proving it is another thing altogether…

In the final battle of The Spider and Tang-Akhmut, the Man from the East, the Living Pharaoh, Tang-Akhmut has released a new threat—leprosy! Men with the horrible disease stalk the city, snakes painted on their chests, claws attached to diseased fingers. Spurred on by promises to be resurrected in healthy bodies they claw at faces, spreading a form of the illness the Man from the East has made more lethal than ever!

This ending story is better than the previous one but doesn’t come up to the first two. But that’s the difference between Page and Tepperman. The final moments of the Living Pharaoh are very Tepperman, reminding me of The Avenger.

I’ll give it four stars out of five… 

Quoth the Raven…

Oct. 16, 2019

The Mysterious Wu Fang: The Case of the Six Coffins 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, an inventor makes a deadly liquid gas that spreads quickly and is one hundred percent fatal. Wu Fang has a sample only and half of a note that will reveal the name of the genius that created it.

The gas is being shipped in six casks, specially padded to keep the glass bottles from breaking and spreading death. Wu Fang wants those casks.

Wu is armed with a series of human and animal threats. These include tiny poisonous spiders, scorpions, and small rodents with a poison bite. Deathtraps of every conceivable variety fill every hideout Kildare and Hazard manage to infiltrate.

The mystery in the story is fairly good, but in the end, it’s a semi-rip-off of an established author. By the time this story was printed in September of 1935, Sax Rhomer had published seven Fu Manchu novels…

I like the action and am willing to overlook all but the most egregious instances of copying Fu Manchu. I give the book four stars…

Quoth the Raven…

 

 

Oct. 16, 2019

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

The Mysterious Wu Fang: The Case of the Scarlet Feather by Robert J Hogan

The Mysterious Wu Fang launched in September 1935. This title was the second 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 Rohmer's Kâramanèh, sympathizes with Jerry and helps all she can without completely deserting Wu Fang. Newsboy Cappy who aides the pair of intrepid investigators, is the one truly unique character and helps elevate the story beyond a mirror image of Fu Manchu.

That isn't to say that Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard are not characters that stand on their own, nor are they merely 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.

 A deadly weapon in this story is a simple, small scarlet feather. The feather is discovered in the tomb of Akmenatep by archeologists Powell and Carver. Inhaling the dust from a powerful drug that the feather contains causes almost instantaneous death! Several people die before the feather runs out of mojo. But there is a second, and fear grows perhaps Wu Fang can synthesize the drug and weaponize it!

  And again, I love the action and can forgive most of the too-similar characterization of Wu Fang versus Fu Manchu.

 I give the story four stars…

 Quoth the Raven…