Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Spider, Master of Men

The Spider: CITY OF DOOM, Norvell Page, Baen Books, $7.99, 690 pages, ISBN: 9781439132869, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

In the immortal words of an old radio show, “Return with us to the days of yesteryear…” to the days of the classic pulp magazines. The days of The Shadow, Doc Savage, G-8 and his Battle Aces, and Richard Wentworth, The Master of Men, also known as The Spider. I was too young to meet this cast of crime fighters in their original incarnations, but managed to discover most of them in their 1970s revival. Now, Baen is helping to introduce a new generation of readers to one of the best of the bunch.

There are three adventures included in this volume, The City Destroyer (1935), The Council of Evil (1939), and The Faceless One (1940).

In The City Destroyer, a chemist is murdered for his invention that turns steel into an easily breakable substance. This allows villains the ability to break into any safe, destroy the framework of buildings, or anything made from steel. It is up to The Spider with the aide of Ram Singh – his manservant, and Nina Van Sloan – his main squeeze to stop the criminals and save the day.

The Council of Evil is a group of gangsters that join together to fill their coffers with gold and other ill-gotten gain, using mind control and explosions only to have The Spider step in to stop them.

The Faceless One is a man from The Spider’s past, a man known as Munro – the man of a thousand faces. He is able to impersonate anyone and has always managed to escape before anyone realizes who he is. In Monro’s efforts to gain revenge on The Spider, he uses Nina for bait with her life in the balance.

Each of the adventures is action packed and there is even some humor thrown in. If you are not familiar with The Spider, this is a wonderful pace to start and I hope Baen has some more adventures waiting in the wings.

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