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  Shadow Volume 16 [Pulp Reprint] #5040



 
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The Shadow
Volume 16

Pulp fiction's legendary Knight of Darkness returns in two of his most engrossing adventures. First, Lamont Cranston enters a "City of Crime" to bring the shadow of justice to hidden plotters. Then, a near-fatal attack on Kent Allard sets The Shadow on the trail of a criminal Napoleon who plots an assault on Alcatraz to launch a criminal empire in "Shadow Over Alcatraz". This collector's item volume reprints both classic pulp covers by George Rozen and all the original interior art by legendary illustrator Edd Cartier. Walter Gibson reveals secrets about The Shadow's true identity to pulp-historian Will Murray, while series editor Anthony Tollin examines the mystery behind the 1939 disappearance of cover artist George Rozen.
Special Feature:
John Olsen Reviews the Stories in The Shadow #16
Review written and copyrighted by John Olsen; used with permission

"City of Crime" was originally published in the October 1, 1936 issue of The Shadow Magazine. Westford was a city of crime. Crime had infiltrated to the very highest levels of city government and it would take all the power and abilities of The Shadow to defeat the mobsters who ruled with impunity.

Our story forsakes the locales of New York and Manhattan to move to the thriving metropolis of Westford, a city of two-hundred thousand citizens. The story opens in Westford, stays in Westford and ends in Westford. We aren't told exactly where Westford is, but it looks like a prosperous and flourishing city. At least, from the outside. But that's just exterior gloss. Beneath the surface, the inside of Westford is rotten, through and through.

Westford is in the hands of mobsters, starting with low-lifes like Lance Gillick who runs the Club Adair as a gambling joint, and his lieutenant Beezer Dorsch. Gillick and Dorsch are getting away with murder... literally! Yes, Beezer Dorsch guns down reformer Prescott Dunson and gets away with it. Prescott Dunson was a candidate for district attorney who promised he would clean up corruption. So, he had to go.

How does such a crude gorilla get away with murder? And how does his boss, gambler Lance Gillick, get away with running a casino in the Club Adair? It's all simple when the Director of Police Kirk Borman is one of the mobsters running the show. And he's created the Flying Squadron, a special khaki-clad force of forty officers who are in actuality hand-picked thugs. To the public, this is a special task force that can be rapidly deployed into action against crime. But in reality, it's a cover-up squad that covers for crooks and guns down any innocents in the way.

Is this sinister Kirk Borman answerable to no one? What about the mayor? Well, you guessed it. Mayor Elvin Marclot is another of the crooks. His administration is hailed as one of the greatest in the history of the city. But it's all a sham. Marclot is just as big a crook as Director Borman and club-owner Gillick. But all these men are tools of one master crook.

Rising above all these figureheads, is the true power in Westford. The secret criminal master mind ruling all, is Stephen Ruthley, Westford's big philanthropist and champion of reform. None but his most trusted lieutenants know that Stephen Ruthley is the real political boss. Westford is a true city of crime!

Is there no one to be trusted? Is there no honest man in Westford? Well, there's Prescott Dunson. He had the proof that Westford is in the hands of rogues. And he was planning on running for district attorney, to replace Louis Wilderton, the current ineffectual one. And for that, he was killed.

Old Judge Martin Benbrook, who has been long retired from the bench is an honest man. But the crooks have bribed his doctor into feeding him opiates, to keep him out of action. Judge Benbrook and his beautiful young daughter Estelle trust Doctor Lunden, and don't realize the doctor is in on the whole evil plot.

Another honest man is lieutenant of police James Maclare. He's a veteran police officer in charge of the first precinct. But he's been fooled just like the rest of Westford. He has no idea of the corruption that has spread throughout the metropolis.

And there's current district attorney Louis Wilderton. He's an innocent dupe that the crooks like to keep in office because he's so easily manipulated. He's honest, but can be easily swayed by smart lawyers. The secret criminal underground wants to keep him around as a puppet.

Luckily there's another honest man in town. A man by the name of Theo D. Shaw. He recently moved to town, and has gotten the goods on the crooks hiding in high places. Because, Theo D. Shaw is... The Shadow! This is one of The Shadow's many disguises, and in case you didn't notice, his name is an anagram for The Shadow. Just rearrange the letters.

The Shadow is on the case. And it's a good thing, because without The Shadow, the entire town of Westford would fall under the evil sway of the mobsters hidden in the guise of high-level officials. This is the story of The Shadow's fight against the established powers of Westford. Powers that every good citizen of Westford wants to uphold, not realizing the corruption hidden beneath the surface. It takes The Shadow to finally rip away the mask of respectability and reveal the mobsters for who they really are.

During most of the story, The Shadow works alone in Westford. He works in his disguise as Theo D. Shaw, described as a tall, haggard-faced individual, whose eyes were restless. But this character is soon framed by the corrupt officials, and is on the run, himself. So The Shadow shows up next in another disguise; that of Trig Callister, a New York gangster and trigger-man.

Our master of disguise gets to really use his amazing abilities, here. Under his slouch hat, The Shadow apparently wears his Cranston disguise. Although Lamont Cranston is never mentioned in this story, the countenance described beneath the hat is definitely not that of haggard-faced Theo D. Shaw, nor is it the blunt-nosed course features of Trig Callister.

When young Estelle Benbrook assists a wounded Shadow, "his slouch hat fell away, to reveal a hawkish visage, pale despite its masklike contour. The Shadow's face was well-formed, distinguished in appearance." That sure sounds like Cranston's face to me.

Finally, in the last few chapters, The Shadow calls upon his agents for assistance. Harry Vincent, Cliff Marsland, Clyde Burke, Jericho Druke, Hawkeye and Burbank all come out to Westford to assist with the final big gun battle. Yes, Burbank gets out of his little room with the switchboard, and gets some action. It's about time!

And Doctor Rupert Sayre shows up briefly to look at The Shadow's bullet wounds, and to help get poor old Judge Benbrook weaned off those evil opiates that Doctor Lunden was giving him. It's good to see Doctor Sayre again. We don't see enough of him.

There's a touch of romance in this story. Estelle Benbrook, daughter of the judge, seems to develop a crush on The Shadow. Maybe it's the nursing instinct after she bandages The Shadow's wounds. We're told that "She was still overwhelmed with admiration for The Shadow's prowess in tonight's battle," and later: "After all, The Shadow had taken the key that she had offered. That seemed more than courtesy. Sometime - soon, she hoped - the black-clad stranger might return." But by the story's end, she seems to have developed an interest in district attorney Louis Wilderton. I think she'll turn him from a wimp into a real man.

It should be pointed out that The Shadow's disguise as Theo D. Shaw was never used again in any other pulp novel. Apparently it was a throw-away disguise, one which he had no interest in keeping. The character was accused of crimes in the middle of this story, and was never exonerated. So perhaps The Shadow decided it was easier to just abandon the disguise rather than try to prove him innocent of the crimes, just in order to preserve the character for possible future use.

Even though World War II was still a ways off, apparently feeling against Japanese was running high. It shows in the racial slurs in this story. Haija, crime boss Stephen Ruthley's Japanese house-man, is constantly referred to as a "grinning Jap." And The Shadow has opportunity to whip him good, using his own jujitsu against him. American readers probably found satisfaction in that.

This story ends with a little preview of the next story, "Death by Proxy." While this was typical of Street & Smith's "Doc Savage" series, it was most unusual for The Shadow. The editors nearly always included a little advertising blurb in the magazine for the next issue's Shadow mystery. But it was always separate from the story, itself. But this time, the last paragraph teased readers with:

"It marked the end of another life-risking battle against crime, and at the same time it presaged greater difficulties ahead. The Shadow, who escaped death a million times, was to face a new kind of death, and a new kind of crime, in Death by Proxy... A strange menace hung over an ancient family home; death struck with uncanny regularity. Into this scene of fear and danger The Shadow must enter; here he must fight anew that justice would not be misled; that criminals get their deserved punishment - death, real death, not Death by Proxy."

This was a fun little crime drama. No ghosts, mad scientists or exotic locales. Just a straight-forward gangster tale, well told as only Walter Gibson could.


"Shadow Over Alcatraz" was published in the December 1, 1938 issue of The Shadow Magazine. Yes, Alcatraz - The Rock! This is the repository of America's most dangerous criminals, a concentrated population of the world's most sinister masterminds. Where better to find lieutenants for the most devious mastermind of all time! Alcatraz, where America's most hidden master criminal will recruit his evil henchmen for a plot to create a world-wide crime spree.

It all starts in Denver, Colorado, where eccentric old inventor Harvey Lanyon is demonstrating his latest invention. He calls himself "The Rainmaker" because he's created a machine that will end droughts. Or so he thinks. But the invention is a failure; all it does is create a fog. And what good is fog? None, except to that hidden mastermind known as Zanigew. Zanigew has sinister plans for the fog machine. So he sets out to capture Harvey Lanyon and appropriate Lanyon's invention.

Standing in his way is The Shadow. The Shadow, in his undisguised civilian form, is none other than famed aviator Kent Allard. Allard is at the unsuccessful demonstration of Lanyon's rain machine. He follows Lanyon back to his hotel, where an attempt is made to kidnap the old inventor. Kent Allard is overcome by a mysterious gas, and both Harvey Lanyon and his invention are carried off by sinister henchmen in the employ of the mysterious Zanigew.

But the evil Zanigew isn't about to stop there. He has struck before, and he'll strike again. Already he has captured James Dansell, a chemist and inventor. It's from Dansell that he acquired the gas which he used to capture Harvey Lanyon and incapacitate Kent Allard. And next, Zanigew is preparing to capture Glade Tretter, a white-haired old inventor who lives in an abandoned lighthouse on the California coast.

Why does Zanigew want Glade Tretter? It seems that Tretter has created a fog-breaking device. This is one more piece of the puzzle. Zanigew has a fog-creating device and now seeks a fog-dispersing one. He also has the strange sleeping gas created by James Dansell. To what use will these devices be put? And who will be next?

Next is Professor Eugene Barreau. Barreau is an electrical wizard - an amazing genius who has created apparatus that can send powerful electrical currents through the air. It can create a protective electrical field around an area which nothing can penetrate. A kind of "force field." It sounds like something that Zanigew could certainly use in his quest for criminal power.

So exactly who is Zanigew and what is he up to? The Shadow had heard the name of Zanigew spoken in hushed tones when certain crooks thought they were alone. Zanigew lurks in the background, directing crime from a safe distance. But now he has acquired the tools he requires, and is about to strike. He has the fog machine, the poison gas, and the protective electrical shield. With them, he plans on attacking Alcatraz and freeing the worst criminal masterminds in captivity.

Can even The Shadow stop this cunning genius of crime? It doesn't seem so, as he hunts for the elusive crime master. With the help of the government, The Shadow tries to track the strange wireless signals used by Zanigew to send orders to his minions. But direction finders lead investigators to barren spots. It seems that Zanigew has a variety of headquarters around the country. From Denver to San Francisco to Idaho to Puget Sound in Washington, The Shadow tracks the elusive Zanigew in an effort to thwart his evil plans.

Zanigew plans crime such as has never before been known; an empire of evil that will stretch throughout the world! It will take the power of The Shadow to stop him. And it will make an adventure that ranks among the very best among the 325 Shadow magazine stories published. It's one you won't want to miss.

Assisting The Shadow in this story are Harry Vincent and F.B.I. agent Vic Marquette. Also appearing in smaller roles are Burbank and pilot Miles Crofton. The Shadow appears only as himself, Kent Allard. There's no sign of his famous disguises, here.

The Shadow does appear in disguise, once, as an unnamed adventurous Easterner who bears little resemblance to Kent Allard. We are told that when he removes the putty-like makeup on his face, the gaunt countenance of Kent Allard emerges. No mention of the "horror face" beneath the makeup that was mentioned in early Shadow novels. Perhaps there was a little judicious plastic surgery performed in the intervening years?

It's good to see The Shadow's autogiro make an appearance in this story. It plays a pivotal part in the climax to the story. This is the "new, improved" autogiro that is completely wingless, capable of making a speed of one hundred and twenty miles an hour. Generally, autogiros were considered to have wings, so this must have been closer to the modern helicopter than an autogiro.

Some of the scenes in this story are a bit more lurid than usual. Not as lurid as those written by Theodore Tinsley, when he penned his twenty-seven Shadow novels. But a bit stronger than Walter Gibson usually wrote. He describes a criminal henchman caught on fire; the odor of seared flesh as the human torch whizzes past The Shadow. Finally, The Shadow stands above the thing that had once been alive, looking at the limbless remains. -gulp-

Walter Gibson also describes a torture device put into use by the evil Zanigew. It's a modern version of the old "Spanish Maiden." It's a glass box designed to the human shape. But instead of spikes, it contains needles set deep in steel studs that cover the inside of the glass coffin. Electrical current slowly pushes those needles inward, at an almost imperceptible rate. In two hours, the needles will penetrate the victim. The torture is described by Zanigew as "exquisite." Not only can the screams be heard through the airholes in the box, but the victim can be seen writhing in agony through the glass walls. Yes, this is truly pulp!

There is one scene in this story that reminds me of the 1980 John Carpenter movie, "The Fog." Glade Tretter lives in a lighthouse, a giant finger shafting eighty feet upward from the low rocks of Point Sonola. His daughter cries out, "Look, dad! That fog is coming from the land against a sea breeze!" Despite the wind, the thick mass crawls toward the lighthouse until it is surrounded. The girl sees shapes that appear suddenly from the fog. They are things like men, but grotesque creatures that might have been created by the fog itself... If you've seen the movie, you'll recognize this scene with a shudder!

And one final note. Did you know that The Shadow can squeeze through steel bars only seven inches apart? It's not easy, but he accomplishes it in this story. Maybe he can dislocate some joints, somewhat like escape-artist Harry Houdini was reputed to do. Get out a ruler and look at seven inches. That's not much space. I'm surprised he could get his head through! Unless... (no, let's not go there.)

This is one of the classic Shadow stories. It's one of the top rated stories.
 


John Olsen was first introduced to The Shadow in the early 1960's, tuning in to rebroadcasts of his adventures on KEX radio in Portland, Oregon. Several years later, John was drawn to a hardback book entitled "The Weird Adventures of The Shadow," containing three Shadow novels reprinted from the old pulp magazines. The pulp Shadow was a far different character from the beloved radio version, but the stories drew him in and opened his eyes to a richer version of the hero. Today, John is retired in Sherwood, Oregon. He has read all 325 of the old Shadow pulp mysteries and enjoys them so much that, as of this writing, he is well over half way through reading them all again for a second time.


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