The Shadow's explosive second adventure is paired with a gripping novel of international intrigue in an extra-length special commemorating the 80th anniversary of The Shadow Magazine. The Dark Avenger assumes the identity of Lamont Cranston to investigate serial murders in
"The Eyes of The Shadow", the groundbreaking novel that introduced the Dark Avenger's famous alter ego and his enigmatic agent, Burbank. Then, can The Shadow stop
"The Money Master" before his financial machinations destroy the global economy? This instant collectors' item showcases the classic cover paintings by George Rozen and John A. Coughlin, the original interior illustrations by George H. Wert and Paul Orban, two never-before-published articles by Walter B. Gibson, and historical commentary by Will Murray.
John Olsen Reviews the Stories in The Shadow #48
Review written and copyrighted by John Olsen; used with permission
"The Eyes of the Shadow"
was originally published in the July/August 1931 issue of The Shadow Magazine. One by one, six men who are about to share in a glittering fortune are being brutally murdered. Only the twisted mind of a monster could have conceived such a fiendish plan. And only The Shadow will be able to defeat him.
This is the second Shadow story ever published. That means you should read it if for no other reason that it's a key issue that introduces some series regulars. But there's an even better reason for reading it: it's a very good story! It's appreciably longer than the typical Shadow magazine story. This one weighs in at 63,000 words while most Shadow novels were in the 40,000 - 45,000 range. Stories in the latter run of the magazine could be as small as 23,000 words. The added word count allows the story to be a fuller, richer one. It doesn't seem padded; it keeps you on the edge of your seat for the whole ride.
The style of writing is not typical Walter B. Gibson, as long-time readers will soon recognize. He hadn't acquired the polish at this point that he would demonstrate in later Shadow stories. It reads much like a 1920's story; reminiscent of the mysteries of Mary Roberts Reinhart. Since I always enjoyed the Reinhart stories, I found this one equally entertaining.
As to the story, it all starts as Bruce Duncan returns from Japan to live in his recently deceased uncle's old mansion. Uncle Harvey had died just days before Bruce's return. He died with a secret; a secret of great wealth that was to be split among six men. His task was to divide the Russian fortune when it was secretly delivered to him. But he died before he could complete his preparations. He left a sealed message for young Bruce, and now it's Bruce's job to finish the job that his Uncle had left undone.
He lies in bed in the front room of the lonely old house, when a strange apelike creature climbs through the window. Young Bruce lies strangely frozen in a drugged state while the stoop-shouldered apeman creeps to the fireplace and reveals a secret hiding place beneath a stone. He pulls out a package from the hole, and retreats through the window, while Bruce lies there helplessly drugged.
All this leaves Bruce without a clue as how to continue. But continue he must. He must find the six men, whose names were kept secret. Somehow he must find them and meet at the secret rendezvous with the Russian messenger. But the date and place of the rendezvous are also secret. And the identity of the messenger secret, too. All of this was stolen by the mysterious apeman. And that leaves young Bruce at a dead end.
But there's always that mysterious personage known as The Shadow. He becomes involved in the affair and with his assistance, young Bruce Duncan eventually solves the mystery. But not before murder, terror and madness strike.
The Shadow appears only occasionally in the story. When he does, it's usually in his cloak of black. But he does get to demonstrate his amazing ability at disguise a couple times. He appears as an unnamed thug at the Black Ship, wearing worn khaki pants, an old sweater and a ragged cap. Later, he overpowers a Mexican thug, Pedro. Then, within a minute, The Shadow has turned his face into an exact duplicate of the hulking brute, complete with livid scar on his cheek.
The big disguise, of course, is millionaire Lamont Cranston. This is the first story in which he adopts the guise of Cranston. The "real" Cranston doesn't show up, although we're told there is such a person. We finally meet him in the next issue, "The Shadow Laughs."
The main character is Bruce Duncan, our proxy-hero, aided by The Shadow's secret agent Harry Vincent. The Shadow appears for the first time in his disguise as Lamont Cranston. Other agents of The Shadow appearing, include Claude Fellows, insurance broker and aide for The Shadow, and Burbank, The Shadow's ace communications man. Burbank makes his debut in this Shadow mystery novel. Fellows appeared in the first story, but would be killed off three stories later, and be replaced by Rutledge Mann.
One of the things that annoyed me about this story was the characterization of Bruce Duncan. Duncan is portrayed as something of a weakling. I lost count of the number of times that he passed out. He faints dead away from extreme fear more than once. What a wimp! It should be pointed out that Duncan appeared in two more Shadow stories. The next story was "The Red Menace" in late 1931 and the final one was "Atoms of Death" in mid-1935. And I'm happy to say he grew a backbone in those stories.
Burbank, The Shadow's communications man, made his debut appearance in this story. He's called in to run The Shadow's radio while our hero recuperates from a serious wound. So while Lamont Cranston recuperates, upstairs in the attic radio room, Burbank takes up the sending of radio messages to Harry Vincent. Burbank was a regular fixture in the pulp magazine series from this issue on. He appeared in a total of 248 of the stories, right up until the end of the series in 1949, eighteen years later.
Claude Fellows didn't survive very long at all, by comparison. Fellows was another of The Shadow's agents. His job was to collect information and pass along messages between The Shadow and his subordinates. He appeared in all five of the first five magazine stories, and was killed off in "Gangdom's Doom." He was replaced six issues later by Rutledge Mann who continued appearing regularly through 1949. It's interesting to note that not only did Mann replace Fellows in The Shadow's organization, he also used a similar cover occupation and had similar physical features. Fellows posed as an insurance broker while Mann posed as an investment broker. Both were described as "chubby-faced."
The two men even had nearly the same back story. Each met The Shadow in a time of severe financial need. He came to their rescue, got their business back on its feet, and kept them well-provided with funds. In gratitude for his assistance, both willingly accepted him as their master, and were faithful agents.
You may wonder, if the two were virtually interchangeable, why bother replacing Fellows, the original. The answer lies in character motivation. In "Gangdom's Doom" The Shadow needed some strong motivation for his wiping out all of Chicago crime in such a grisly manner. His motivation was that one of his agents had been killed by the Chicago mob.
Claude Fellows sends his reports to The Shadow via the "B. Jonas" office in the empty office in the old building on Twenty-Third Street. The name "Jonas" isn't mentioned in the story, but it's definitely the same location as introduced in the previous issue. The first few times he sends messages there, he sends his stenographer to deliver them. That was a bit off-putting, since the stenographer wasn't an agent of The Shadow. But finally, Fellows delivers the final message himself. And in future stories, he always delivered the envelopes personally.
There was one other recurring character in this story. That was the crook named Steve Cronin. He originally appeared in the first story "The Living Shadow." After "Eyes of The Shadow" he went on to also show up in the next magazine issue, "The Shadow Laughs." And, after skipping an issue, he appeared in "Gangdom's Doom." And that was the end of Steve Cronin.
We get to visit The Black Ship, an underworld dive of ill-repute. Red Mike is the owner and proprietor. This underworld hangout appeared in a total of twenty-four Shadow stories between 1931 and 1937. This was it's first. After a period, Red Mike opened his own dive called, appropriately "Red Mike's." He appeared in the series until 1945, after which he was unaccountably ignored. Maybe he finally got sent up the river?
Two minor recurring characters who appear here are employees of Lamont Cranston. Stanley, the chauffeur, and Richards, the valet, both make their debut appearance in this story. Neither were agents of The Shadow, but were recurring characters who innocently assisted The Shadow while believing him to be their master, the true Cranston.
Police Commissioner Ralph Weston is not in this story. He wouldn't make his first appearance until 1932's "Hidden Death." But interestingly enough, there is a character in this story who is named Weston. One of the six men who are entitled to share in the treasure is a Hubert Weston, a major in the British army during the war. Apparently, even at this early stage in the magazine series, creator Walter Gibson liked the name Weston. And the following year, he decided to make give a regularly appearing character that name.
Let's talk about gadgets. The Shadow stories aren't renowned for the scientific gadgets, as were those pulp stories of Doc Savage. But this one features a short-wave radio set and an early television broadcasting apparatus. Unique for 1931, this apparatus sends a flickering picture from the mountains of Pennsylvania to Lamont Cranston's short-wave room in New Jersey. The television transmitter was never used again in a Shadow story, much to the shame.
And death traps! Ah, those wonderful death traps! Rooms filled with poisonous gas. Trap doors that drop a victim into a bottomless pit. Slowly moving walls, coming together to crush their victims. The curtain of steel that falls from the ceiling, killing all beneath it. And let's not forget being buried alive, six feet underground! All of these ideas were used in later Shadow novels as well. But in this, the second Shadow story ever written, the ideas were fresh and exciting.
This story is filled with the things for which The Shadow stories eventually became well-known. The blue ink that fades when exposed to the air. The Black Ship, tavern in the bad section of Manhattan which caters to the most ruthless thugs of the underworld. The Shadow is seen piloting his own airplane.
It seems that back in the 1930s everybody knew Morse Code by heart. Whenever the occasion called upon it, some character would easily tap out a message in the International Code, and some other character would easily understand it. I'm not sure if familiarity with Morse Code was really all that common back then, or if it's just a convenient plot device. Just like people back then always seemed to have smelling salts handy in their pockets or purses. I bet if you stopped a hundred people on the street today, you'd be lucky to find one who knows Morse Code... or carries smelling salts!
I can strongly recommend this story. It's exciting and fun to read; it's a key issue that introduces some new characters. I know you'll find it well worth your time.
"The Money Master"
was originally published in the December 15, 1942 issue of The Shadow Magazine. Enormous evil is afoot, in the form of the Money Master. This man is Eric Zorva, a master of international finance who must be stopped before he plunges the entire world into financial collapse.
As this story was published, the entire world was at war. American was fighting Germany, and thus The Shadow's superfoes were often German. It wasn't spelled out in exactly those words, but since the master villain was referred to as "Herr Zorva," there was little doubt.
It all starts when Bert Cowder, a one-man private detective agency, is engaged by a client by the name of Elvor Brune. Brune is a refugee who had to dodge out of his own country before the Nazis grabbed it, with whatever dough he could bring along. Nazi agents would like to get him. So he's hired Cowder to protect him.
Cowder knows that recently refugees have been robbed or swindled by Manhattan crooks who, so far, had kept their identity covered. In every instance, the victims had complained after crime was done, but their accounts had been too meager to supply a trail that would serve The Shadow or the law. So Cowder figures this is his chance to crack the case.
Before Cowder can get any headway in the case, Elvor Brune is killed. Shot through the heart by Wip Jandle, a thug working for an unknown boss. He tracks down Jandle, who dies in the ensuing gun battle. Looking through Elvor Brune's cash box, held tightly in the dead Jandle's grasp, Bert Cowder finds one strange bank note. It's a Ten Tarka note. Just what is a tarka?
The Tarkon is one of the special units of currency created by the evil Eric Zorva. He controls billions of dollars which he exchanges for various national currencies when the exchange rates are favorable. He's amassed such wealth that he's created his own currency, its units the Delthon, Tarkon, and Zorvon, worth in dollars, one thousand, one hundred thousand and ten million dollars, respectively. Incredible though it seemed, wealthy men of many nations have turned in reams of their own money in return for Zorva's notes. In the current times of war, it seems prudent for wealthy men of questionable morals to seek a more stable currency which will weather the uncertainty of war.
A French freedom-fighter by the name of Pierre Dulaine seeks to track down the evil Zorva and end his war profiteering. Entire nations are being destabilized by Zorva's sinister manipulations. He accepts huge investments of wealthy men who fear their countries are about to be invaded. But he uses the money to help finance the very invasions that the men who supplied the money feared! Eric Zorva must be stopped! But Dulaine can't do it all alone. He needs help. Help from the most fearless of all fighters, The Shadow!
Pierre Dulaine rescues The Shadow from a death trap and enlists his aid. Dulaine's organization and The Shadow's organization join forces to fight this international evil. And what a battle it is! It's one of the best Shadow stories from the war years. One you won't want to miss!
Featured in the story are The Shadow's agents Cliff Marsland, Hawkeye, Harry Vincent, Moe Shrevnitz, and Jericho Druke. Commissioner Ralph Weston, Inspector Joe Cardona, and government agent Vic Marquette represent the forces of law and order. Margo Lane is mentioned, although she isn't part of this story. And then, of course, there's Lamont Cranston.
The real Lamont Cranston shows up in this story. The Shadow, in his disguise as Lamont Cranston, runs into the real Lamont Cranston. For a moment, there are two Lamont Cranstons looking at each other, face to face. What an opportunity; one that The Shadow can't pass by. So he enlists Cranston's aid in forming a unique alibi where The Shadow can appear at the same time as Cranston. This should satisfy the nagging feeling on the part of some people that Cranston and The Shadow are one-and-the-same.
As mentioned earlier, this was a war-time story, and so various mention is made throughout the story of Nazis and Manhattan under dim-out conditions. These stories were meant to be escapist fun, but not to the point of denying the current world situation. War was raging, and the pulp stories acknowledged the fact.
Two final points of interest. The famous rubber suction cups appear in this story; those concave disks whose powerful grip allow The Shadow to climb sheer walls. And reference is made to a special counting system that The Shadow uses to accurately time various events. This system is accurate to within one-fifth of a second, and The Shadow uses it in this story to determine the combination of a lock on an unbreakable vault.
It's mentioned that The Shadow developed this system as one phase of his training for his career as a crime hunter. Exactly what training that refers to isn't explained. Was this perhaps part of his alleged spy training during World War I? We aren't told, but the speculation is intriguing...
So there you have a top-notch pulp mystery of The Shadow from the war years.
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.